Nixon in China and Other Works
American Academy Composer Talk
Composer John Adams, the recipient of the 2003 Pulitzer Prizer for Music, is considered by many to be America’s most eloquent composer. He used the epochal visit of Richard Nixon to China in 1972 as the basis of his highly-charged epic opera Nixon in China. The work inaugurated a new genre of opera by aestheticizing the political through its abstraction as myth. It premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in 1987, in a production by Peter Sellars choreographed by Mark Morris. Academy Dean of Fellows Pamela Rosenberg will discuss with Adams both Nixon in China and Doctor Atomic, a work depicting Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb. Sometimes characterized as an “American Faust,” Doctor Atomic was commissioned by Pamela Rosenberg for inclusion in the "Faust" series she organized as General Director of the San Francisco Opera.
A concert performance of Nixon in China will be conducted by John Adams on September 10, 2012, as part of the Musikfest Berlin. For more information and tickets, please click here.
John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of American music. Over the past 25 years, Adams’s music has played a decisive role in turning the tide of contemporary musical aesthetics away from academic modernism and toward a more expansive, expressive language. Adams’s operatic works are among the most successful of our time. Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, and Doctor Atomic, all collaborations with stage director Peter Sellars, draw their subjects from archetypal themes in contemporary history. Adams has been honored by the Julliard School, Cambridge University, Harvard University, the Yale School of Music, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Northwestern University. On the Transmigration of Souls, written for the New York Philharmonic to mark the first anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Music, and won a rare “triple crown” of Grammy awards: “Best Classical Recording”, “Best Orchestral Performance,” and “Best Classical Contemporary Composition.”