John Adams wins 2019 Erasmus Prize

The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation (PEF) has awarded the 2019 Erasmus Prize to the John Adams. Not only does Adam get another shiny object for his mantelpiece – he already has a Pulitzer Prize and five Grammys – but he also gets a cheque for €150,000.

In its citation, PEF said that: “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.

“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.”

His most famous works include Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986), Nixon in China (1987) and Doctor Atomic (2005). A recent violin concerto, Scheherazade.2, called attention to the oppression of women around the world, while his latest opera Girls of the Golden West will make its European debut in Amsterdam on 28 February.

EFP awards the Erasmus Prize each year to a person or institution, “that has made an exceptional contribution to the field of humanities, social sciences or the arts.” Former winners include Adams’ long-time collaborator Peter Sellars.

The award will be presented in November 2019.