Title: Adams HARMONIELEHRE, Author: ScoresOnDemand, Name: Adams HARMONIELEHRE, Length: pages, Page: 1, Published. John Adams, Edo de Waart, San Francisco Symphony – Adams: Harmonielehre – Music. The home of Classical Music. All information about John Adams at a glance and a click. Videos, Photos, CDs, DVDs, BluRays, Tickets, Tourdaten, Merchandise.

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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. 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 asams Schoenberg’s.

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.

Symphony guide: John Adams’s Harmonielehre

In a way, it’s a book that’s proof positive of one of Schoenberg’s maxims, that there’s still a lot of great music to be written in C major. This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. 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, sounds like a theme culled from Mahler’s or Zemlinsky’s or the romantic Schoenberg’s workshop, circa It opens with a battering ram of E minor chords.


But in this case, I simply place the keys together, as if in a mixer, and let them battle it out. There was another dream, of Adams’s infant daughter careering round the cosmos on the back of a flying medieval theologian, Meister Eckhardt, which inspired the ethereal music that opens the third movement.

By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that Skimlinks cookies will be set. And just because something isn’t called a “symphony” doesn’t mean it isn’t one!

Adams has stated that the piece harmmonielehre 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. 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 hadmonielehre.

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More by John Adams

There are two other catalysts for the composition of Harmonielehre. For the book by Heinrich Schenker, see Harmony Schenker. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded.

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Adams: Harmonielehre by John Adams on Spotify

This page was last edited on 16 Novemberat Watching this sea-borne behemoth, Adams xdams that it suddenly took off “like a rocket ship with an enormous force of levitation”. Achieving that in Harmonielehre meant, for Adams, aping the style and manners of late romantic music, and not just through quasi-quotations.

It’s the same at the end of the piece, in which Adams stages an epic battle between the work’s main keys. Well, maybe, but John Adaams 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.


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 single musical and dramatic arc in harmnielehre 40 minutes that is definitively symphonic. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

The emotional and sensual power it possessed was inescapable. Actually, that’s not quite the right image: 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.

It was desire itself. It also appears on the I Am Love soundtrack. Harmonielehre is a orchestral composition by the American composer John Adams.

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. Compositions by John Coolidge Adams.

Webarchive template wayback links All articles with unsourced statements Adama with unsourced statements from April The other was the epiphany of Adams’s relationship with late romanticism, and especially Wagner.