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Biography

John Coolidge Adams is an American composer and conductor of classical music and opera, with strong roots in minimalism.

Among over 60 major compositions are his breakthrough piece for string septet, Shaker Loops (1978), his first significant large-scale orchestral work, Harmonielehre (1985), the popular fanfare Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986), and On the Transmigration of Souls (2002), a piece for orchestra and chorus commemorating the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2003. He has written several operas, notably Nixon in China (1987), which recounts Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China; the controversial The Death of Klinghoffer (1991), based on the hijacking of the passenger liner Achille Lauro by the Palestine Liberation Front in 1985 and the hijackers' murder of 69-year-old, wheelchair-bound, Jewish-American passenger Leon Klinghoffer; and Doctor Atomic (2005), which covers Robert Oppenheimer, the Manhattan Project, and the building of the first atomic bomb.

In addition to the Pulitzer, Adams has received the Erasmus Prize, five Grammy Awards, the Harvard Arts Medal, France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and six honorary doctorates.

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