Thomas Adès is a British composer, pianist and conductor. Born in 1972 in London, he enrolled at Guildhall School of Music & Drama at the age of twelve to study piano with Paul Berkovitz and later composition with Robert Saxton. An imortant stepping stone in his career came in 1989 when he won the second prize in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. He later studied composition at King’s College, Cambridge with Alexander Goehr and Robina Hollowaya. He also trained with Hungarian composer György Kurtág.
Thomas Adès’s artistic career has blossomed instantaneously. In 1999–2008 he served as the artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival, while premiering a series of his pieces. The first staging of his opera Powder Her Face, written in 1995, came in the same year (Almeida Opera, London). A year later the piece was then put on in Magdeburg, Germany. What followed was world-wide recognition and a commission from the Covent Garden.
Since that time Adès has performed as conductor with the world’s best ensembles: Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, or the Royal Concertgebouw and at the most presigious international venues: the Berlin philharmonic hall, the Salle Pleyel in Paris, Carnegie Hall, or the Walt Disney Concert Hall. As for operas, he has conducted The Rake’s Progress at the Royal Opera House, and his second, and last for the time being, opera The Tempest at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Adès has never given up his career as concert pianist.
Despite his young age, Adès is already a Royal Academy of Arts professor, and in 2004 he was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Essex. In 2007 a retrospective festival of his work was presented at the Barbican Arts Centre in London. Adès has been noticed by well-known recording companies already at the start of his career. Most of his works have been recorded by the globe’s best musicians: the Arditti Quartet, Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simone Rattle, Gabrieli Consort with Paul McCreesh, or Ian Bostridge. Among the most important distinctions given to Adès are a recommendation by International Rostrum of Composers and the Grawemeyer Award.
His works are influenced by English renaissance and baroque music. They also carry visible traces of romantic expression, while drawing inspiration from 20th century composers.
photo: Brian Voce