Thomas Adès (born in London, 1 March 1971) is a British composer, pianist and conductor.
Adès studied piano with Paul Berkowitz and later composition with Robert Saxton at Guildhall School,London. He graduated in 1992 from King's College, Cambridge after studying with Alexander Goehr and Robin Holloway. His degree was classified as "double starred first", indicating outstanding academic distinction. He was made Britten Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, and in 2004 was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Essex.
In 2007 a retrospective festival of his work will be performed at the Barbican Centre in London and he was the focus of Radio France's annual contemporary music festival Présences. The festival will include the UK premiere of a new work for Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic called Tevot. In the same year The Tempest will return to the Royal Opera House.
Orchestral compositions and performances
Five Eliot Landscapes, Adès' first opus, was published in 1990.
In 1993, at the age of twenty-two, Adès gave his first public piano recital in London as part of the Park Lane Group series of recitals.
Asyla, for orchestra, was premiered in Symphony Hall, Birmingham in October 1997 by Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the 1999 BBC Proms
Adès conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the London premiere of the work while, on September 7,2002, Simon Rattle gave his first concert as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra with Asyla and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5, both of which have also been released on CD and DVD by EMI. Asyla has since been performed across the world, including on a recent tour of the Far East by Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic.
Arcadiana, a seven-movement, 20-minute string quartet (Op. 12) was recorded in 1998 along with other work from the 1993 to 1994 period.
America: a Prophecy was commissioned for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's Millennium Messages in November 1999 and it received its UK premiere at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2000. A recording of the work is available on EMI Classics (2004).
Concentric Paths, Adès' violin concerto, received its premiere in September 2005 with a performance by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, with Anthony Marwood as soloist which received critical acclaim.
Piano Quintet, with Adès on the piano and the Arditti Quartet (plus Schubert's Trout Quintet -with Belcea Quartet- as its companion) was released in 2005 on CD by EMI.
Powder Her Face, Adès' 1995 chamber opera with a libretto by Philip Hensher, won both good reviews and notoriety for its musical depiction of fellatio. The opera was commissioned by Almeida Opera, and has since been given new productions by chamber opera groups around the world. The Duchess depicted in the opera is the notorious Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll whose scandalous behaviour in Britain in the early 1960s was revealed during her divorce trial with the introduction into evidence of photograhs of her various sexual acts.
The Tempest, with a libretto by Meredith Oakes adapted from Shakespeare's play, was premièred to critical acclaim at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in February 2004, followed by productions at the Strasbourg Opera and the Copenhagen Opera House later in 2005. Its US premiere staging by the Santa Fe Opera took place on 29 July 2006. The opera was revived by Covent Garden in March 2007 to great acclaim.
Other musical activities
Ades is Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival and Musical Director of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
He is also a noted pianist, having been a runner-up in the BBC's Young Musician of the Year competition in 1990. EMI has released a CD of Adès as a solo performer called "Thomas Adès:Piano" and several CDs as an accompanist, frequently with Ian Bostridge, Steven Isserlis and others.
Powder Her Face was made into a film by Channel 4 and shown on Christmas Day 1999 in the UK. The film was released on DVD in the UK for Christmas 2005, including a documentary film about Adès made by Gerald Fox at around the same time. It is also available in the US.
Asyla (along with Mahler's 5th Symphony) formed Sir Simon Rattle's opening concert with the Berlin Philharmonic. The two concerts given were recorded and released as a DVD in 2002.
Audio CD as composer
Life Story (1997)
Living Toys (1998)
Powder Her Face (1999)
Ades/Schubert: Piano Quintets (2005)
Janacek: The Diary of One who Disappeared (with Ian Bostridge) (2002)
Thomas Adès: Piano (2004)
The Music of Poul Ruders, vol.4 (2004)