Silences So Deep: Solitude, Music, and Alaska

John Luther Adams. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-26462-8
Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Adams (Winter Music: Composing the North) delivers a colorful memoir of finding his artistic voice. He was born in 1953 Mississippi and had a childhood marked by frequent moves and his parents’ alcoholism. He found refuge in the music of John Cage, John Coltrane, and Edgard Varèse, and after graduating from the California Institute for the Arts in 1973, he moved to Alaska—inspired by pianist Glenn Gould’s radio documentary The Idea of North and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. He eventually settled in Fairbanks, where he became an environmental activist; met his future wife, Cindy Marquette; and grew close with fellow composer Gordon Wright and poet John Haines. After realizing “someone else could take my place in politics, but no one else could make the music I imagined but me,” Adams wrote Strange and Sacred Noise, a piece informed by fractals and chaos theory, which he discusses in great depth. The deaths of Wright in 2006 and Haines in 2011 compelled Adams and Marquette to relocate to New York City and Mexico in 2014. “Wherever my wife is, that’s home. And the music itself has become a kind of home for me,” he writes. Classical music aficionados will most appreciate Adams’s thoughtful recollections. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/22/2020
Release date: 09/22/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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