Faber Members get 10% off their first order

Hallelujah Junction

John Adams

Hallelujah Junction: Composing an American Life by John Adams is a witty, warm and wise autobiography from the hugely important and admired modern composer of Nixon in China, Shaker Loops, and much besides.

Out of stock

Buy from
Date Published
All orders are sent via Royal Mail and are tracked: choose from standard or premium delivery.

Sometimes I liken the creative act to that of being a good gardener. The musical material itself, the harmonies, rhythms, the timbres and tempi, are seeds you have planted. Composing, bringing forth the final formal arrangement of these elements, is often a business of watching them grow, knowing when to nourish and water them and when to prune and weed.

A book unlike anything ever written by a composer, part memoir and part description of the creative process, Hallelujah Junction is an absorbing journey through the musical landscape of John Adams, one of today’s most admired and frequently performed composers. A musician of enormous range and technical command, Adams has built a huge audience worldwide through the immediacy and sincerity of his music, such as his Pulitzer prize-winning memorial for the September 11 attack On The Transmigration of Souls.

Hallelujah Junction isn’t so much an autobiography as a fascinating journey through the musical landscape of his life and times, centred around the three highly controversial operas based on social and political issues he has written in the past twenty-five years – Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer and, most recently, Dr Atomic.

Critic Reviews

'Absorbing, frank and often amusing.'

Ivan Hewett, BBC Music Magazine *****
Critic Reviews

A particular fascination of this book is the winding road on which [Adams] absorbed everything while slowly discovering his voice ... Adams suggests that Frank Zappa's memoirs stand alongside Berlioz's as "one of the few genuinely original literary works about music"; Hallelujah Junction is in their vicinity.

Christopher Hawtree, Daily Telegraph
Critic Reviews

This new book confirms that Adams is not in the least self-regarding; he is a populist in the most disciplined and widely read sense. The reader needs to look no further than the significant episodes in American 20th-century history that have formed the backbone of his compositions to appreciate the breadth and significance of his works ... this exciting text should turn the reader back to the music.

Gavin Plumley, Classical Music ****
Critic Reviews

Adams is affable and opinionated; a serious composer embraced by the mainstream and an optimist attracted to the dark side for his operatic subjects. Great artists are defined by contradictions and Hallelujah Junction revels in the aesthetic cross-wires that have formed the US's most successful contemporary composer.

Philip Clark, Classic FM Magazine
Critic Reviews

John Adams's Hallelujah Junction radiates a calm, Californian confidence, letting its ideas unfold at a gentle pace. I'm actually describing the piano piece that the American composer wrote in 1977, but I could be talking equally well about this memoir. Adams's unique touch finds its literary analogue in a style of rare precision. Excoriated as the fast-food king of classical music, and hailed as the rescuer of that art from serialist pseudo-science, he here emerges as a storyteller ... One of Adams's purposes in writing this engaging book is to clarify his intentions, and in this he has admirably succeeded.

Michael Church, Independent
Critic Reviews

In this good-natured biography, Adams takes the reader through the creative process for all his major works ... Unlike many composers who, when writing about their own music, confuse the lay reader with scientific jargon, Adams has a simple, direct style that not only illuminates the works, but places them within his own story, and that of the music of our time.

Patrick O’Connor, Literary Review

Born and raised in New England, John Adams was exposed to both classical and jazz music from an early age. After graduating from Harvard during the tumultuous period of the late sixties he moved to San Francisco and has lived in northern California ever since. Adams’ music, rooted in the driving pulses and emotional directness of American popular music, was…

Read More