July 29, 2001 |
Like hemlines and stocks, historical reputations rise and fall on the unseen hands of fashion and the market. At the moment, for example, John Adams' reputation is enjoying a raging bull market. Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson's personal stock, once the historical epitome of a blue chip equity, is sinking like a telecom. Adams, in fact, is probably more popular today than when he pushed the resolution for independence through the Continental Congress or was elected president.
October 9, 2008 |
JOHN ADAMS is the voice of America. His instrumental music, and particularly that for the orchestra, conveys the American experience broadly. He is generous in his interests, which include the maverick Yankee-isms of Charles Ives, the populist strains of Bernstein and Copland and the classical jazz of Ellington and Benny Goodman, as well as the more progressive styles of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Pop music -- be it the Beach Boys, Frank Zappa, electronica or grunge -- is on his radar.
March 13, 2005 |
Americans are eager to read about the original "greatest generation," Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and John Adams, as well as some of the lesser lights in the constellation who won the Revolution, drafted the Constitution and inaugurated a government that has endured for more than 200 years. Popular interest in the founding era is certainly greater today than at the time of the noisy observances of the 1776 bicentennial nearly three decades ago.
February 22, 2008 |
When in the course of theatrical events it becomes necessary to address topical concerns, consider "1776" at the Crossley Theatre. If present-day parallels are what you seek, the Actors Co-op chamber revival of the 1969 Tony winner about the birth of our nation fits the bill, superbly. Director Richard Israel, on loan from West Coast Ensemble, treats this unconventional musical as a living diorama (courtesy of Stephen Gifford's elegant set).
March 16, 2008 |
Before taking the lead role in a new HBO miniseries, Paul Giamatti knew what a lot of Americans do about the nation's first vice president and second president -- the one, unlike his revolutionary contemporaries George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who is absent from monuments on the Capitol Mall and from common U.S. coins and currency. "I really knew next to nothing about him," said Giamatti, who remedied the situation by reading much of Adams' voluminous letters and journals.
January 28, 2001 |
In 1997, the year John Adams turned 50, it was already tempting to call him America's leading composer. The country, of course, is too big and diverse for any such label.
February 27, 2013 |
The Walt Disney Concert Hall stage didn't look so hot for Tuesday night's Green Umbrella concert. Rather than the trademark umbrellas being gracefully suspended from the ceiling, they were placed in clumps, like lean-tos, on either side of a stage and so saturated with green light that they appeared covered with AstroTurf. Then again, the Los Angeles Philharmonic may simply be packing early for its upcoming tour and wanted to have those umbrellas handy. This was a showcase concert of the orchestra's New Music Group, and it will be repeated in London the week after next.
April 13, 2008 |
Shortly before he had to transform himself into John Adams, Paul Giamatti was portraying Santa in "Fred Claus." And as TV viewers were getting set to see him in powdered wigs while becoming our second president, he was already on to his latest role, in a comedy about a guy whose soul is extracted and stolen by the Russian mob. That one's called "Cold Souls," though Giamatti refers to it as "the soul-sucker picture."
November 20, 2001 |
Next week at Symphony Hall in Boston, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will perform a program that begins with Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 1, instead of John Adams' "Klinghoffer" Choruses. Therein lies a controversy. Last month, the Boston orchestra managers e-mailed the composer that, for all their admiration of his music, they felt it would not be sensitive to the mood of the times to program the choruses, which are excerpts from the 1991 opera "The Death of Klinghoffer."
October 5, 1997 |
The most dramatic event in the life of John Quincy Adams was his death. The 80-year-old congressman was stricken Feb. 21, 1848, on the floor of the House as he rose to protest the Mexican War. He lingered for two days in the speaker's private rooms before he died. It was a fitting end for Adams, not simply because he had spent virtually his entire life in government service but because he never hesitated to speak his mind, whatever the price.