John vs. John Luther

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lennygoran
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John vs. John Luther

Post by lennygoran » Sat Oct 10, 2015 8:26 am

Does anyone have an opinion on which composer writes better music or is it just a matter of personal taste? I had never even heard of John Luther Adams but read this at wiki:

"In 2014 Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his orchestral piece Become Ocean, which Alex Ross of The New Yorker called "the loveliest apocalypse in musical history."

I'm listening to this work right now thanks to you tube! Regards, Len


piston
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Re: John vs. John Luther

Post by piston » Sat Oct 10, 2015 10:39 am

The difference between the two is that "John," like the near totality of composers, writes anthropocentric music and "John Luther" writes environmental music or, more accurately, he is interested in "sonic geographic." To my knowledge, the only human variables that have entered John Luther Adams' world of sonic geography are Native American ones, such as in his work "Inuksuit." So you may as well be comparing apples and oranges.

In other words, JLA is an artistic descendant of Messiaen whose interest in bird music culminated in his magnificent "From the Canyons to the Stars." But whereas Messiaen collected bird songs in his backyard, JLA tapped into the environmental sounds of Alaska where he spent much of his adult life.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

John F
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Re: John vs. John Luther

Post by John F » Sat Oct 10, 2015 11:54 am

Another way of putting it, though less friendly, is that John C. Adams's music sounds like music, while at least some of John L. Adams's music doesn't, or not so much. Last year, JLA's “Sila: The Breath of the World” was performed at the Lincoln Center reflecting pool, near the library.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/arts/ ... .html?_r=0

Some of us sat in for a while. But after a long time when little seemed to be happening musically, we gave up and went home.
John Francis

karlhenning
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Re: John vs. John Luther

Post by karlhenning » Sat Oct 10, 2015 8:24 pm

lennygoran wrote:Does anyone have an opinion on which composer writes better music or is it just a matter of personal taste? I had never even heard of John Luther Adams but read this at wiki:

"In 2014 Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his orchestral piece Become Ocean, which Alex Ross of The New Yorker called "the loveliest apocalypse in musical history."

I'm listening to this work right now thanks to you tube! Regards, Len

How did you like it, Len? I listened to it perhaps two-three weeks ago.

I found much to like, but still had a couple of compositional quarrels with the piece . . . which, come to think of it, is no great distance from how I feel about Jn C. Adams's work ; )

Cheers,
~k.
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

lennygoran
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Re: John vs. John Luther

Post by lennygoran » Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:35 pm

piston wrote:The difference between the two
Thanks for this explanation-I may try to listen to some more of JLA's work at some point. Regards, Len

lennygoran
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Re: John vs. John Luther

Post by lennygoran » Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:40 pm

karlhenning wrote:How did you like it, Len?
Karl pleasant enough-still I find John Adams more exciting for my taste-I may try some more of JLA though. Regards, Len

jbuck919
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Re: John vs. John Luther

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 10:28 pm

I wrote a John Adams (the composer) question for Academic Bowl last Wednesday. No, I haven't lost my mind. "The composer John Adams wrote an opera about what president who is known for opening up US relations with China?" or something like that. They got it.

For my next act :) maybe "Giuseppe Verdi wrote an opera in which the character Riccardo is the mayor of what largest city in Massachusetts?"

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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piston
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Re: John vs. John Luther

Post by piston » Sun Oct 11, 2015 6:32 am

It seems to me that if one is writing about the songs of the sky (Canticles of the Sky) its environmental "metabolism" is very slow compared to us humans, and particularly so for urban dwellers. After two or three days of being completely "unplugged" in the wilderness and cut off from any and all other human activities, we also slow down a lot, adjusting to the natural environment.

Often, JLA's music reflects nature's slower pace, as though he were standing, motionless, in the middle of some vast Alaskan landscape or skyscape. Not exactly the kind of music that's going to grab the attention of metropolitan dwellers in the middle of their day of running around.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: John vs. John Luther

Post by karlhenning » Sun Oct 11, 2015 6:34 am

jbuck919 wrote:I wrote a John Adams (the composer) question for Academic Bowl last Wednesday. No, I haven't lost my mind. "The composer John Adams wrote an opera about what president who is known for opening up US relations with China?" or something like that. They got it.
Nice!

When I was in Rochester, a small CD shop (not by the Eastman School, but off in a renovated industrial space) was, predictably, staffed by musically knowledgeable sorts, and they often had a jokey flier at the register.

Once, part of the flier announced the completion of John Adams's trilogy: Nixon in China, Reagan in Santa Barbara, and now, (or, then, really) Bush in Kennebunkport.

Cheers,
~k.
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

karlhenning
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Re: John vs. John Luther

Post by karlhenning » Sun Oct 11, 2015 6:36 am

piston wrote:It seems to me that if one is writing about the songs of the sky (Canticles of the Sky) its environmental "metabolism" is very slow compared to us humans, and particularly so for urban dwellers. After two or three days of being completely "unplugged" in the wilderness and cut off from any and all other human activities, we also slow down a lot, adjusting to the natural environment.

Often, JLA's music reflects nature's slower pace, as though he were standing, motionless, in the middle of some vast Alaskan landscape or skyscape. Not exactly the kind of music that's going to grab the attention of metropolitan dwellers in the middle of their day of running around.
I am alive to (and largely sympathetic to) that aspect of his work. Call it one composer's particular viewpoint, but I do have the occasional quibble with Become Ocean. But still, overall I think it a good piece, and deserving of the prize.

Cheers,
~k.
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

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