The American composer, conductor and creative thinker John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of American music. His symphonic and operatic works stand out for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. The music of Adams has played a decisive role in turning the tide of contemporary musical aesthetics away from academic modernism and toward a more expansive, expressive language, entirely characteristic of his American surroundings. This music is often classified as minimalistic, however, while Adams employs minimalist techniques, he is not a strict follower of the movement. He categorizes himself as a post-style composer.
Adams is a much sought-after conductor, appearing with the world’s major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He conducts his own compositions, and combines them with a wide variety of repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven to Ives, Stravinsky, Zappa and Ellington. Through his conducting and commissioning of new works, Adams has become a significant mentor of the younger generation of American composers.
Adams is also a highly esteemed writer. He has written for The London Times and The New Yorker, and published his much praised book Hallelujah Junction, containing his memoirs and his commentary on American musical life.
Orchestras and opera companies all around the United States and Europe mark Adams' 70th birthday year, 2017, with performances of his compositions.