Adams: To be a composer, I gave up political activism

Adams: To be a composer, I gave up political activism


norman lebrecht

February 25, 2015

John Luther Adams, this year’s Pulitzer and Grammy winner, reflects on his change of priorities:

john luther adams


When I was younger, I was a full-time environmental activist. In the 1970s and ’80s I worked for the Wilderness Society, the Alaska Coalition, and the Northern Alaska Environmental Center…. But the time came when I realized that I had to choose between a life as an activist and a life as an artist. In that moment, I decided that someone else could take my place in politics; and no one could make the music I imagined but me. So I took a leap of faith, in the belief that music and art can matter every bit as much as activism and politics. And over the years, as climate change and other global environmental threats have accelerated, and as our political systems have become increasingly dysfunctional, I’ve come to believe that, fundamentally, art matters more than politics.

Read the full, fascinating article here.


  • Hilary says:

    Quite an image change!