John Adams

Laureate Erasmus Prize 2019

Theme: Composing for today

The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation has awarded the 2019 Erasmus Prize to the American composer and conductor John Adams (b. 1947). The theme of this year’s Erasmus Prize was ‘Composing for today’.

John Adams is one of the most frequently performed living composers. He receives the prize because he has created a new musical idiom by fusing elements from jazz, pop and classical music. According to the jury, Adams has made contemporary classical music ‘communicate’ again, important at a time when this genre has increasing difficulty in finding a following. Moreover, Adams often addresses social themes in his work, something he sees as the artist’s duty. What distinguishes him furthermore, is the humanistic nature of his themes. Adams is not just a great conductor and composer, he is also a writer who reflects on the social function of classical music. Thus, he calls attention both musically and intellectually to the importance of classical music in our time, reflecting the Erasmian principles that the Foundation seeks to uphold.

Listen here to an interview with John Adams in radio program Podium on NPO4 broadcasted during the Erasmus Prize ceremony on Thursday November 28, 2019.