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Byron Adams (born 1955) is an American composer, conductor, and musicologist.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Adams was educated at Jacksonville University, the University of Southern California, and Cornell University, where he earned a doctoral degree studying musicology with William Austin and composition with Karel Husa. Adams is a composer of tonal music with a strong stylistic profile who employs individual adaptations of traditional techniques. His music has been performed at the 26th Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music, Bargemusic, the Da Camera Society of Los Angeles, and the Conservatoire Américain in Fontainebleau, France (where he taught in the summer of 1992), as well as by such ensembles as Cantus, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. As a musicologist, Adams specializes in British music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His essays have appeared in journals such as The Musical Quarterly and Music and Letters. In 2007, he was appointed scholar-in-residence for the Bard Music Festival, and edited Edward Elgar and His World (Princeton, 2007). In 2013, Byron Adams was appointed one of the series editors for Music in Britain 1600-2000 published by The Boydell Press. He is a Professor in the Music Department of the University of California, Riverside.
Honors and offices
In 1977, Adams won the Grand Prize of the Delius Festival Composition Competition; in 1984, he was awarded the Raymond Hubbell-ASCAP award for his compositions. He was composer-in-residence for the Colonial Symphony Orchestra from 1990-92. Adams was granted the first Ralph Vaughan Williams Fellowship of the Carthusian Trust in 1985. In 2000, the American Musicological Society recognized his scholarship with the Philip Brett Award. In 2007, Adams was a Visiting Fellow for the Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Studies of the University of London. He is past president of the North American British Music Studies Association; an associate editor of The Musical Quarterly; and scholar-in-residence for the Da Camera Society of Los Angeles. In 2010, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Jacksonville University.
Books and essays
“Thor’s Hammer": Sibelius and the British Music Critics, in the volume Sibelius and His World, ed. Daniel M. Grimley (Princeton University Press, 2011), 125-157.
"Musical Cenotaph: Howell’s Hymnus paradisi and Sites of Mourning", in the volume The Music of Herbert Howells (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press), 285-308.
Scripture, Church and culture: biblical texts in the works of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Vaughan Williams Studies, ed. Alain Frogley, Cambridge University Press, 1996:99-117.
No Armpits, Please, We're British: Whitman and English Music, 1884-1936, in the volume Walt Whitman and Modern Music, ed. Lawrence Kramer, Garland Press, 2000: 25-42.
Vaughan Williams Essays, ed. Byron Adams and Robin Wells, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2003. 280 pp.
Elgar’s later oratorios: Roman Catholicism, decadence and the Wagnerian dialectic of shame and grace in The Cambridge Companion to Elgar, ed. Daniel M. Grimley and Julian Rushton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 81-105.
Edward Elgar and His World, ed. Byron Adams (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 426 pp.
2014 Trittico for piano duet
2013 Eventide for Male Chorus
2013 Partita for Harpsichord
2012 Serenade for Nine Instruments
2011 Sonata for viola and piano
2008 Illuminations for piano solo
2007 Ashes of Soldiers for a cappella mixed chorus
2006 Le Jardin Provençal for flute, oboe, ‘cello and harpsichord
2005 Variationes alchemisticae for flute, viola, ‘cello and piano
2003 Overture to a Lyric Comedy for string orchestra
2003 Praises of Jerusalem (Psalm 122) for chorus and organ
2002 High O’er the Lonely Hills for chorus and organ
2002 The Vision of Dame Julian of Norwich for soprano, harp and string quartet
2001 Concerto for violoncello and orchestra
2000 Psalm XXIII for soprano and oboe
1999 Trois Illuminations for chamber chorus and harp
1999 Trois Poèmes de Ronsard for soprano, flute, harpsichord and ‘cello
1999 Suite on Old Nautical Airs for tuba and piano
1998 Four Holy Songs for baritone and small orchestra
1998 Midsummer Music for orchestra
1996 A Psalm of Blessing for soprano and woodwind quintet
1996 Music for Duke Orsino’s Table for flute, viola and harp
1996 Irises for clarinet, harp, and strings
1995 Suite from Twelfth Night for small orchestra
1994 Set Me as a Seal for unaccompanied male chorus
1994 Canticum amoris for male chorus, horn, piano and double bass
1993 A Passerby for male chorus and piano
1991 An Irish Airman Foresees His Death for unaccompanied male chorus
1991 Quatre Illuminations for soprano and chamber ensemble
1990 Capriccio concertante for orchestra
1988 Intrada and Alleluia for brass and percussion
1988 Magnificat for chorus, trumpet and organ (revised and orchestrated in 1996 for chorus, trumpet, organ and strings)
1987 Three Epitaphs for women’s chorus and piano
1987 Nocturne for soprano, ‘cello and piano
1985 Ballade for piano and orchestra (revised1998-99)
1984 Missa brevis for unaccompanied male chorus
1983 A Joyce Triptych for unaccompanied women’s chorus
1983 Sonata for trumpet and piano
1982 Two Madrigals for unaccompanied male chorus
1982 Requiem Songs for soprano, violin and ‘cello
1981 Concerto for trumpet and strings
1979 Nightingales for soprano, clarinet, ‘cello and piano
Principal Publishers: Southern Music co., Yelton Rhodes Music, E.C. Schirmer, FatrockInc Music Publishers, Editions Bim, and earthsongs
Byron Adams, UC Riverside: http://www.music.ucr.edu/people/faculty/adams/index.html
Byron Adams, Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/drbyronadams?sk=info
Byron Adams’ Music on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/profbyronadams
- Michael Kennedy, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, Fifth Edition (Oxford; Oxford University Press, 2007), 6.
- Kennedy, Michael (2007). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, 5th Edition.
- Strimple, Nick (2002). Choral Music in the 20th Century. 254, 349
- International Who's Who in Music, 11th, 12th, 13th Editions