Harmonium (John Adams)


Harmonium (John Adams)

:"This article is on the orchestral work. For information on other kinds of harmonia, see harmonium (disambiguation)."

"Harmonium" is a composition for chorus and orchestra that could be considered a choral symphony in all but name, by the American composer John Adams, written in 1980-1981 for the first season of Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, California. The work is based on poetry by John Donne and Emily Dickinson. It is regarded as one of the key compositions of Adams' "minimalist" period. [cite journal | url=http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0734-4392(198924)7%3A4%3C430%3AAMIT1%3E2.0.CO%3B2-D | last=Heisinger | first=Brent | title=American Minimalism in the 1980s | journal=American Music | volume=187 | pages=430–447 | date=1989 | accessdate=2008-02-20] The San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, with conductor Edo de Waart, gave the premiere of the work on 15 April 1981, and subsequently recorded it. [cite news | author=John Rockwell | title=Expanding on Minimalist Music | url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D01E7D91639F933A25751C0A963948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all | work=The New York Times | date=10 February 1985 | accessdate=2008-02-20] The UK premiere was on 13 October 1987 at Birmingham Town Hall, with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) conducted by Simon Rattle. [cite journal | url=http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0027-4666(198712)128%3A1738%3C706%3AR%3E2.0.CO%3B2-W | last=Clements | first=Andrew | title=Reports: Birmingham | journal=The Musical Times | volume=128 | issue=1738 | pages=706 | date=December 1987 | accessdate=2008-04-09 | doi=10.2307/964828] Rattle and the CBSO gave the London premiere on 28 July 1990 at The Proms. [cite journal | url=http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0027-4666(199011)131%3A1773%3C606%3AOCAFR%3E2.0.CO%3B2-0 | last=Rye | first=Matthew | title=Opera, Concert and Festival Reports: London, Proms 1 | journal=The Musical Times | volume=131 | issue=1773 | pages=610 | date=November 1990 | accessdate=2008-04-09]

Each movement is a setting of an entire poem:
# "Negative Love" (by John Donne)
# "Because I could not stop for Death" (by Emily Dickinson)
# "Wild Nights" (by Dickinson)

Timothy Johnson has discussed various aspects of the harmonic language of "Harmonium" in detail. [cite journal | url=http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0022-2909(199321)37%3A1%3C117%3AHVITMO%3E2.0.CO%3B2-G | last=Johnson | first=Timothy A. | title=Harmonic Vocabulary in the Music of John Adams: A Hierarchical Approach | journal=Journal of Music Theory | volume=37 | issue=1 | pages=117–156 | date=Spring 1993 | accessdate=2008-04-09 | month=Sep | year=1993 | doi=10.2307/843946] K. Robert Schwarz has noted the influence of the musical techniques of Steve Reich on "Harmonium", and also has commented on the less schematic and more "intuitive" manner of Adams' composition in the work. [cite journal | url=http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0734-4392(199023)8%3A3%3C245%3APVIITR%3E2.0.CO%3B2-C | last=Schwarz | first=K. Robert | title=Process vs. Intuition in the Recent Works of Steve Reich and John Adams | journal=American Music | volume=8 | issue=3 | pages=245–273 | date=Autumn 1990 | accessdate=2008-04-09 | month=Nov | year=1990 | doi=10.2307/3052096]

Instrumentation

Recordings

* ECM New Series 1277: San Francisco Symphony Chorus; San Francisco Symphony; Edo de Waart, conductor
* Telarc CD-80365: Atlanta Symphony Chorus; Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Robert Shaw, conductor
* Nonesuch 79549: San Francisco Symphony Chorus; San Francisco Symphony; John Adams, conductor

References

Bibliography

* Steinberg, Michael, "Choral Masterworks" (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). ISBN to come.

External links

* [http://www.earbox.com/W-harmonium.html John Adams homepage, entry on "Harmonium"]
* [http://www.archive.org/details/MC_1981_10_30_c2 RadioM, Morning Concert, John Adams: "Harmonium" (October 30, 1981)]


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