An American composer and conductor born January 1st, 1947.
Born into a musical family, John Adams studied the clarinet and played in wind bands before continuing his training as a conductor and in composition at Harvard University (1965-1971), notably with Leon Kirchner. He subsequently devoted himself to teaching and conducting at the San Francisco Conservatory, as well as to composition, writing for all formations: chamber, orchestral, vocal and electroacoustic.
His earliest works are of the repetitive type (Phrygian Gates for piano, 1977; Shaker Loops for string septet, 1978). The composer makes use of themes and harmonies from post-romanticism, the energy of jazz and rock as well as the rhythms of traditional music, synthesising in this way art and folk music, notated and oral music. His operas are the result of collaborations with Alice Goodman (Nixon in China, 1987; The Death of Klinghoffer, 2011) or Peter Sellars (I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky, 1995; Doctor Atomic, 2005; A Flowering Tree, 2006), with whom he shares a predilection for historical subjects connected to mystification.
In 2003 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for On the Transmigration of Souls, a work commemorating the events of 11 September 2001. Invited and performed all over the world, John Adams has received honorary doctorates from the universities of Cambridge (2003) and Harvard (2012).