'Sometimes I liken the creative act to that of being a good gardener. The musical material itself, the harmonies, rhythms, the timbres and tempi, are seeds you have planted. Composing, bringing forth the final formal arrangement of these elements, is often a business of watching them grow, knowing when to nourish and water them and when to prune and weed.' A book unlike anything ever written by a composer, part memoir and part description of the creative process, Hallelujah Junction is an absorbing journey through the musical landscape of John Adams, one of today's most admired and frequently performed composers. A musician of enormous range and technical command, Adams has built a huge audience worldwide through the immediacy and sincerity of his music, such as his Pulitzer prize-winning memorial for the September 11 attack On The Transmigration of Souls.
Hallelujah Junction isn't so much an autobiography as a fascinating journey through the musical landscape of his life and times, centred around the three highly controversial operas based on social and political issues he has written in the past twenty-five years - Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer and, most recently, Dr Atomic.
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(223mm x 143mm x 30mm)
Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
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US Kirkus Review »
Colorful memoir of both success and failure by Pulitzer Prize - winning composer Adams.As a boy in 1950s New Hampshire, the author played the clarinet and dreamed of becoming a great composer. He didn't realize until it was too late that he would have been better off learning the piano: "I have had to live with only the most rudimentary, self-taught mode of hunt-and-peck [but] I suspect my lifelong frustrations with the piano go hand in hand with the birth of many of my best musical ideas." The book is at its richest when the author recollects his encounters with other composers, especially during his formative years at Harvard during the '60s. He's not necessarily critical of his musical peers and heroes, but rather portrays himself as a fellow traveler in search of his own unique voice. Adams's professed love for popular music and his extreme reservations about the rigidity of the compositional methods associated with serialism that were dominant in the '60s reveal the complexity of a musical era too often stereotyped as monolithically academic. Equally insightful are self-critical passages in which the author details his discovery of personal limitations and sections that delineate his ambivalence toward some transitory compositional fashions and styles, particularly in San Francisco during the '70s and '80s. Adams lucidly and honestly records his reactions to the public reception of his operas Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer and the recent Doctor Atomic, providing indispensible background for a more complete appreciation of these works. Occasionally, he lapses into self-righteous - or at least self-indulgent - solipsism, and his explications of music history are dry and seemingly irrelevant. But readers will enjoy the candor and completeness of the book, which serves as a gateway to an accomplished body of work.Like the author's music: carefully considered, deliberate and often exciting, gathering together many disparate elements of American life. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - John Adams
John Adams was born in Massachusetts in 1947. He is the composer of numerous acclaimed works, including Harmonielehre, Nixon in China, Naive and Sentimental Music, El Nino, The Death of Klinghoffer, The Gospel According to the Other Mary and a memorial for the victims of September 11, On The Transmigration of Souls, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. He lives in Berkeley, California.