Label news: Every single note he ever wrote

Label news: Every single note he ever wrote


norman lebrecht

June 24, 2022

Around the middle of the last century, the elegant head f Columbia Records Goddard Lieberson told his friend, the composer Igor Stravinsky, that the label would record every work he wrote, juvenile to old-age, under his own supervision.

Lieberson was as good as his word and the result is an incomparable monument of 20th century culture.

No label has sought to emulate it with a living composer.

Until now.

Nonesuch is about to release the complete works of John Adams, the most successful American composer of our time.

It includes, in addition to the familiar operas and Harmonielehre, such esoteric adventures as ‘Guide to Strange Places’, ‘American Berserk’ and ‘Christian Zeal and Activity.’

My copy has just landed.

See you in a while.


  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Mixed feelings about Mr Adams. I like his Harmonielehre and some other orchestral music that are among the best music composed in America by “all-American” composers, but his operas are boring excepting The Death of Klinghoffer which is simply obscene.

  • msc says:

    He’s written some great things, but also some complete duds (The Gospel according to the other Mary). I won’t be looking into this.

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    Have an earler Nonesuch box of about 10 CDs, which was a great introduction to his music, especially as he was a reasonably fresh voice at the time. I don’t know how I would get on with listening to every note.

    I was at the London premiere of “Why mist the Devil have all the Best Tunes?”. That was great fun with the LAPO, Dudamel and Yuja Wang

    I have a few collected works by other composers to listen through first.

  • Jimmy Herf says:

    No one has tried to emulate it? Apart from Mode’s complete Cage and Feldman editions; the complete Ligeti Edition etc etc

  • music lover says:

    Ordered the box today,though i have already 70 percent of the recordings.But to have it collected in a handsome box,with fascinating documentation….i couldn´t resist.It might become a collector´s item.

  • Just saying says:

    Hmmm, doesn’t John Williams count as a living composer? I’ve lost count of how many collections of his complete scores are out there.

  • sonicsinfonia says:

    So does that need more than one disc, as the rest is pretty much repetition?! 😉

  • Michael B. says:

    It’s not complete at this point. There is another opera, “Girls of the Golden West,” that is not included. As yet, there is no commercially available recording of that work.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      “Cleopatra” has also been commissioned by San Francisco Opera for its centennial. I have the broadcast of “Girls” (Brussels?) – another great piece musically, but another pastiche libretto from Peter Sellars – that’s one ongoing collaboration which I simply don’t understand.

  • Basia Jaworski says:

    Forget my first comment, I made a mistake and put the wrong link.
    This is the right one:

  • Simon Montagu says:

    Is this a comprehensive recording project like the Stravinsky? From the description on Nonesuch’s site it sounds more like a set of reissues from the back catalogue.