Thomas Adès has experienced a meteoric rise to international musical prominence. Since his first public piano performance in 1993 at the age of 22, his versatility as pianist, conductor and composer has inspired comparisons to Beethoven, Mozart, Purcell and Britten.
His four-movement, large-scale orchestral work “Asyla” earned him the $200,000 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for the year 2000. The Grawemeyer Award is the largest international prize for composition and has been given annually since 1985 by the Grawemeyer Foundation.
Commissioned by the John Feeney Charitable Trust for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), “Asyla” premiered in 1997 and immediately toured six United Kingdom and European cities. The work then had its U.S. debut with the Minneapolis Orchestra. Renowned CBSO music director Sir Simon Rattle chose “Asyla” for his final performance in 1998.
Born in London in 1971, Adès studied music and composition at London¹s Guildhall School of Music and at King’s College, Cambridge, from which he graduated in 1992. He blossomed first as a pianist, winning second place in the 1989 BBC Young Musician of the Year award. He wrote his first opus, “Five Eliot Landscapes,” in 1990.
Between 1989 and 1999, Adès composed 25 pieces ranging from full orchestral to soprano solo. His works include “The Origin of the Harp,” “These Premises are Alarmed” and “Living Toys,” which has enjoyed more than 50 performances since its 1994 premiere by the London Sinfonietta.
Adès burst onto the international scene when his chamber opera “Powder Her Face,” written in 1995 for the Cheltenham Festival, received acclaim in Germany, California, the Aspen Festival, New York, Brisbane, Helsinki and Sweden.
His most recent work, “America,” was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic’s “Messages for the Millennium” series. It premiered Nov. 11, 1999.
He is the Britten professor of music at the Royal Academy of Music, the artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival and music director of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. He has exclusive relationships with publisher Faber Music Ltd., (www.fabermusic.co.uk) and as composer, conductor and pianist with EMI Classics (www.emiclassics.com).