John Adams to receive Erasmus Prize for 2019
The Erasmus Prize, one of Europe’s most prestigious cultural honors, will be awarded this year to John Adams. Adams will be only the third composer—and the first American composer—to be chosen in the Prize’s sixty-one-year history. The Prize is for “Notable contributions to European culture, society or social science,” and previous winners include film maker Ingmar Bergman, artist Marc Chagall, philosopher Martin Buber, actor Charlie Chaplin, anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and composer Olivier Messiaen. The Prize of €150,000 will be presented by the King of The Netherlands to John Adams in November 2019. To mark the presentation of the Erasmus Prize, the Foundation is organizing a varied program of events related to the work of John Adams.
Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?
Pianist Yuja Wang premiered new piano concerto by John Adams on March 7, 2019 at Disney Hall the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel followed by performances in Seoul and Tokyo.
Adams says of the piece, “In the same way that I first encountered the name ‘Hallelujah Junction’ and knew that I had to write a piece with that title, when I saw the phrase ‘Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?’ I thought to myself, ‘that’s a good title just waiting for a piece.’ The phrase suggested a ‘Totentanz,’ only not of the Lisztian manner, but more of funk-invested American style.”
The concerto will be reprised by Dudamel and Wang at the Hollywood Bowl on July 25, and it will return to Disney Hall for two performances November 7 and 8, during which time the work will be recorded for commercial release.
The first recording of John Adams‘s 2005 opera, Doctor Atomic, is out now on Nonesuch Records. Longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars created the libretto, drawing from original sources. The composer leads the BBC Singers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in this recording, which features a cast led by Gerald Finley, who originated the role of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer.
The Boston Globe described the work as having “the qualities of intelligence, craftsmanship, and quirkiness that have always marked the composer and his work; this time Adams also mingles virtuoso show with soul, popular appeal with the staying power that comes from intellectual interest,”