John Adams “Violin Concerto” was commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra, the New York City Ballet and the London Symphony Orchestra. The Minnesota Orchestra, under conductor Edo de Waart and featuring violinist Jorja Fleezanis, performed its world premiere Jan. 19, 1994.
Composed in three movements, the 33-minute work is a free-flowing showpiece for violin that changes speeds, tones and melodies before culminating in a dazzling finale that features “inventive and daring fiddle pyrotechnics,” according to reviewer Michael Steinberg.
“Violin Concerto” is one of several award-winning works from the 48-year-old composer. He collaborated with poet Alice Goodman and stage director Peter Sellars on the opera “Nixon in China.” The recording of that opera won a Grammy Award in 1989 and was named one of the 10 most important recordings of the decade by Time Magazine. His “Chamber Symphony” received the 1994 Royal Philharmonic Award.”
Adams’ orchestral works include “Harmonium” in 1981, “Grand Pianola Music” in 1982 and “Harmonielehere” in 1985.
A native of Worcester, Mass., Adams graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1969 and earned his master’s degree in music composition two years later at the same school.
He taught for 10 years at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and served as the San Francisco Symphony’s first composer-in-residence in 1983.
Adams has conducted orchestras and opera companies in Europe and the United States. He served as music director of the 1991 Cabrillo Festival and the 1994 Ojai Festival and as creative chair with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 1988 to 1990.
He has received the California Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts and the Cyril Magnin Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts.