John Adams - The greatest composer ever!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by James McFadyen, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    After listening to John Adams all night while on the Computer, I have come to realise the enormous talent he has - he is, to me, a modern day Gershwin! His pulsating beat drive through his music, almost impossible not to tap your foot to.

    'The Chairman Dances', a Foxtrot for Orchestra is a classic example of his music, absoloutely brilliant.

    Of course, 'A Short Ride in a Fast Machine', probably his most famous work, shows the same domination of the down-beat, almost demonic and relentless, it's always there!

    'Loops and Verses' is equally stunning!

    The only music of his I'm not too keen on, is his operatic works (u know, with the singing) But that's just coz I'm not a fan of Opera.

    Does anyone here have a fav John Adams work and why?
     
  2. BoozyBTrom

    BoozyBTrom Member

    We are currently working on a Ray Farr arrangement of A Short Ride in a Fast Machine.

    Its certainly a challenging piece. Not sure it works for brass band though
     
  3. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    I was going to do it for Brass Band, but I got the score from the RSAMD and I said NO WAY!

    In my view, after reading the score, a Brass Band version would sound terrible and I would challenge even the best composer to try it, because there are too may problems to solve in writing that for Brass Band, it's just more hassle that's worth, and to be honest, anything other than the original Orchestral version will come 2nd best, even the Concert Band arrangment isn't as fiery! And if it shows it's short commings in the Concert Band (where all the problems with Short Ride in a Fast Machine can be solved) then I'm sorry, writing it for Brass Band, will make the arranger fail.

    Although saying that, Ray Farr is a talented arranger, but I remain sceptical that it works until I hear it for myself one day.
     
  4. carlwoodman

    carlwoodman Member

    John Adams

    Mmmm!
    The colours in A Short Ride are just incredible.
    My recording is a quite recent one by the CBSO. When I play it, I have to repeat it several times!

    I would listen to a brass band version out of interest but have to say that I'm sceptical about its' suitability for transcription.
    However, Ray Farr has done some great transcriptions before, think of The Firebird for example. You can't get many more colourful orchestrators than Stravinsky! If anyone can make it work then I'm sure Ray can.
    Maybe he's done it for Ever Ready to play at Brass in Concert this weekend. If it works, then perhaps it will make the highlights CD.
     
  5. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    I also love John Adams' music. I was introduced to it by my composition teacher at Birmingham Conservatoire and I was immediately hooked. I agree that I can't quite hear Short Ride... working for band, but maybe Mr Farr will once more pull the rabbit out of the hat.

    Here's an idea to conjure with - get John Adams to write a test piece for one of the big contests. I for one would love to hear it - anyone else interested?

    Dave
     
  6. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    John Adams

    I'd be very interested in getting a copy of the Ray Farr arrangement when he finishes because Short Ride is fast coming one of my favourite pieces. I hope it'll work successfully because music by those like Adams would be great in introducing "contemporary" music to band musicians.

    As for one of the greatest ever composers ? One of the best Americans certainly, although at the moment I think in my list he would come behind, 1) Charles Ives, 2) John Cage and Copland.
     
  7. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    I'm not big on John Cage, mostly because he is the opposite of my own compositional style.

    I wouldn't call John Adams a contemporary composer, he uses exoctic harmonies, but when people of talk of contemporary in the Orchestral style, they mean atonal, which John Adams certainly isn't.

    There's strong elements of Tchaikovsky and Gershwin in a lot of John Adams' works. He is the only composer I know of that really loves being a minimalist, his peer, Philip Glass, eventually hated the fact that he was called a minimalist composer. John Adams is not strictly minamilist anyway, he uses a lot the melodic shaping that Gershwin used to use.
     
  8. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    I read somewhere that John Adams described himself as "a minimalist who was bored with minimalism", which seems to sum his style up pretty nicely.

    BTW, If anyone's reading this thread and thinking 'Who's this John Adams guy?' then I can't urge you strongly enough to go and check his stuff out. He is apparently the most performed living composer of orchestral concert music, and not without good reason!

    Dave
     
  9. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    Short Ride in a Fast Machine is my favourite, although his other works are just as good... This was the first piece of his I heard after Peter Graham said my music didn't sound a million miles off his style! Showed me this piece, and I was in love... as it were... *cough*
     
  10. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    YUP! Definatly! :D
     
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  12. jafe

    jafe Member

    I think Eric Ball is the best ever composer three of my favourite works by him are;

    1) Journey Into Freedom
    2) Kensington Concerto
    3) Resurgam
     
  13. Mrs Fruity

    Mrs Fruity Member

    Re: John Adams


    I've heard it two or three times and I'm really impressed - I think it does work. You have to hear it from the front of the band, Gareth, it sounds entirely different from when you're sitting in the middle of (or behind) it!
     
  14. BoozyBTrom

    BoozyBTrom Member

    We did perform it at Spennymoor. And to my surprise it was quite well recieved by the audience. A few stunned faces dotted here and there. Oh well wrong about another peice. Not the first and definately not the last,

    Some of the adjudicators comments were excellent. I think one comments was something along the lines of " Great to hear this minimalist classic excellent arrangement played so well"

    Not one of them didnt like it. OOOhhhh
     
  15. Les Wood

    Les Wood Member

    Don't give up on the operas or other vocal pieces by John Adams. Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer are superb pieces (and remember the Chairman Dances is based on Nixon in China), and Harmonielehre, I Looked At the Ceiling and Saw the Sky, and The Wound Dresser are very powerful choral works.

    Other great John Adams pieces for folk to investigate: Hoodoo Zephyr (John Adams does synthesisers!), Naive & Sentimental Music, Harmonium (now there's a last movement to arrange for band!), El Dorado - to name but a few.

    Philip Glass may be classed as a strict minimalist, but I wouldn't make that any reason not to investigate his music - try The Photographer, Mishima (remember that great arpeggio tune in The Truman Show?), Facades. Steve Reich is another minimalist worth getting to know - very percussive stuff.

    Sorry to go on - I'm a bit of a geek with this kind of music!

    Les Wood
    Kirkintilloch Band
     
  16. cornetcheese

    cornetcheese Member

    John Cage is a fascinating composer - the concept of removal of oneself from the compositional process is something I am very interested in! Who gives us the right as composers to let our personality intrude into the music? I experimented a little last year with trying to remove my personality from some of my pieces, yet I realised this was impossible - by creating a framework within which the piece can exist in itself embues the work with the composers personality. For example, the cagian approach alone makes the piece sound full of John Cage's personality!

    I think it's important to class Adams, Glass, Reich et al as contemporary composers - the level of tonality present in their compositional voice doesn't affect the significant effect they have had on the contemporary music scene!

    Besides, "Art Music" is a dying term.....

    Alan Duguid
     
  17. cornetcheese

    cornetcheese Member

    John Cage is a fascinating composer - the concept of removal of oneself from the compositional process is something I am very interested in! Who gives us the right as composers to let our personality intrude into the music? I experimented a little last year with trying to remove my personality from some of my pieces, yet I realised this was impossible - by creating a framework within which the piece can exist in itself embues the work with the composers personality. For example, the cagian approach alone makes the piece sound full of John Cage's personality!

    I think it's important to class Adams, Glass, Reich et al as contemporary composers - the level of tonality present in their compositional voice doesn't affect the significant effect they have had on the contemporary music scene!

    Besides, "Art Music" is a dying (and exceptionally wanky) term.....

    Alan Duguid
     
  18. cornetcheese

    cornetcheese Member

    Oops, forgot to state my favourite composer - at the moment I am really getting into the music of Andreissen, Xenakis and H.K. Gruber!

    In band terms, I have an immesurable amount of respect for Gordon Langford - his writing style is so fluid and his pieces (however simple) are very well crafted! Gilbert Vinter has also done some great (and underatted) stuff for the band medium as has howells, Vaughan Williams, McCabe and Thomas Wilson.....

    Incidentally, I thought Bingham's Prauge was a great piece of music!

    Alan Duguid
     
  19. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    Gruber...allo 'allo!

    Just off the topic slightly, have you a recording of the piece H.K. Gruber did for brass band ? Did Grimethorpe record it on L.P ? I haven't heard the piece but would like to get hold of a recording if possible.

    I'd love to hear an arrangement for band of the Slow movement from Vaughan Williams' 5th Symphony or indeed a chorus and band arrangement of his Sea Symphony.

    Anyway, enough for now,
     
  20. Sellers_Bird

    Sellers_Bird Active Member

    U bein a BOC again mr? Ha ha! :lol:
     
  21. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    Mmmm, I've played a fair amount of Adams and whilst I would agree that some of his works (esp Chariman Dances) are fantastic I have found others to be less effective, and dare I say it 'weak'!
     
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