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Symphony guide: John Adams’s Harmonielehre
This page was last edited on 16 Novemberat Adams has stated that the piece was inspired by a dream he had in which he was driving across the San Francisco—Oakland Bay Bridge and saw an oil tanker on the surface of the water abruptly turn upright and take off like a Saturn V rocket. Percussion4 players timpani 2 marimbas vibraphone bowed and struck xylophone tubular bells crotales bowed and struck glockenspiel 2 suspended cymbals high and low sizzle cymbal small crash cymbals bell tree 2 tamtams 2 actually referred to as “Medium Gong” in the second movement 2 triangles different pitches bass drum Keyboards piano celesta Strings 2 harps string section.
The next morning, Adams conceived the opening of the piece, the explosive propellant for his own symphonic rocket, which was a commission from the San Francisco Symphony for a large-scale work.
It’s not even called a symphony, I hear you cry! Show 25 25 50 All.
Well, maybe, but John Adams’s Harmonielehre is, as I will now attempt to argue, one of the most significant and sophisticated commentaries on and embodiments of symphonic thinking of the late 20th century. There was another dream, of Adams’s infant daughter careering round the cosmos on the back of a flying harmonielehte theologian, Meister Eckhardt, which inspired the ethereal music that opens the third movement.
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Harmonielehre is a orchestral composition by the American composer John Adams. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that Skimlinks cookies will be set.
It opens with a battering ram of E minor chords. Adams’s title comes from Schoenberg’s great harmony textbookan essential musical tome that gives you the keys not to a theory of composition-withtones Schoenberg’s serialism in other wordsbut to tonal harmonic practice from Palestrina to Bruckner. The composition’s title, German for “study of harmony,” is also the title of several music theory texts, including those written by Arnold SchoenbergHeinrich Schenkerand Hugo Riemannwith Adams explicitly referring to Schoenberg’s.
Adams’s reputation as a young composer was founded on the way he had taken the example of Steve Reich and Philip Glass’s as the inspiration for his own resuscitation of tonality, most notably in Shaker Loops and the ecstatic choral writing of Harmonium.
But the atmosphere of the music’s relationship with these earlier traditions is never cool, detached, or distancing. The other was the epiphany of Adams’s relationship with late romanticism, and especially Wagner.
Webarchive template wayback links All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from April As he says, “in a more traditionally worked-out piece, there would be a modulatory sequence that would present the outcome in a rather dialectical way.
In the context of the West Coast of America in the late s and early 80s, Wagner was as uncool as it got.
Adams’s piece is an attempt to do just that well, in E minor and E flat major…yet as well as its passages that are clear love-songs to symphonic and Wagnerian late-romanticism, his Harmonielehre “Harmony Lesson”, composed in when Adams was in his late 30sis full of surreal dreams and post-minimalist rhythms, glitter, and energy.
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And just because something isn’t called a “symphony” doesn’t mean it isn’t one! But in this case, I simply place the keys together, as if in a mixer, and let them battle it out.
John Adams // Adams: Harmonielehre
The links are powered by Skimlinks. Views Read Edit View history. The emotional and sensual power it possessed was inescapable. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. For a start, it’s cast in three large movements, it includes references and reimaginations of Mahler, Sibelius, and Wagner, and for all its diversity of soundworld and musical material, it creates a harmonielejre musical and dramatic arc in its 40 minutes that is definitively symphonic.
Adams: Harmonielehre by John Adams on Spotify
For the book by Heinrich Schenker, see Harmony Schenker. Retrieved from ” https: Compositions by John Coolidge Adams. And through all the craft – the artifice, if you will – of his composition, I think he manages it: Listen to music like the achingly expressive lyrical theme at the centre of the first movement, which apart from the post-minimalist filigree of some of its orchestral decoration, harmonielebre like a theme culled from Mahler’s or Zemlinsky’s or the romantic Schoenberg’s workshop, circa Loading comments… Trouble loading?
This article contains harmonieleher links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. Until the dream, Adams was in the throes of writer’s block, a scarring experience that the slow harmpnielehre movement, The Anfortas Wound, commemorates and transcends: It was desire itself.
Actually, that’s not quite the right image: Harmonielehre appears in the Modern Era soundtrack of the computer game Civilization IV along with several other pieces by Adams.
Meister Eckhardt and Quackie.