Hallelujah Junction: Composing an American Life by John Adams. Hardcover book published by Faber and Faber 2008.
After writing about Mr Wagner’s family, I’ve decided it might be appropriate to write about another opera composer whose work I have also enjoyed. In this case, contemporary composer John Adams. My first introduction to John’s work was through his opera Nixon in China. This was about the time of it’s initial CD release on Electra Nonesuch and to this day I love it. It’s such a great concept. Richard Nixon (yep, the dodgy US president) goes to China (yep, the communist country) in 1972 and hangs out with some of the Chinese bigwigs… Yeah, I know, this is a very simplified explanation of what happens. If you want more info click here. What I love about all of this, is that it’s sort of bordering on the absurd. Do we need to hear Richard Nixon singing to Communists in an operatic setting? Yes we do.
I’ve never seen a performance of Nixon in China. I mentioned recently that I saw some of the New York Metropolitan Opera HC transmissions locally here in rural Victoria. Last years season did have a performance of Nixon in China, but I didn’t go. I’m not sure why, but I now wish I had of gone, particularly after seeing how well they do this things (they’re very professional). One day it will happen.
This book looks at John Adams’s life and work and has been written by the man himself who is a bit of an authority on the subject. It covers a lot more than Nixon which is a good thing as he has done more than write the one opera. I found this book sitting very innocently in a pile of some not very exciting books and nearly missed it as the name John Adams doesn’t really ring the same sort of bells as a Karlheinz Stockhausen or Conlon Nancarrow. In other words “John Adams” is a very normal sort of name (… no offence meant to this John Adams or any other John Adams). My concern now is whether it will be missed by the book buying public.