Bruce Adolphe Composer
Resident Lecturer & Director of Family Concerts, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Composer-in-Residence, The Brain and Creativity Institute, USC
Piano Puzzler on Performance Today, American Public Media
Creative Director, The Learning Maestros
Artistic Director, Off the Hook Arts Festival, Colorado
Photo by Barbara Luisi
Bruce Adolphe is a composer, educator, performer, and author whose music is performed worldwide by renowned artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Fabio Luisi, Joshua Bell, Daniel Hope, Sylvia McNair, Carlo Grante, the Washington National Opera, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Zürich Philharmonia, the IRIS Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Beaux Arts Trio, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, the Brentano String Quartet, the Miami Quartet, the Cassatt Quartet, the Currende Ensemble of Belgium, members of the Silk Road Ensemble, and over 60 symphony orchestras.
Some career highlights include: Itzhak Perlman’s world premiere performances of Adolphe’s solo violin music at The Kennedy Center and Avery Fisher Hall; Yo-Yo Ma playing the world premiere of Self Comes to Mind, a work based on a text written for the project by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, at the American Museum of Natural History; violinist Daniel Hope performing the violin concerto I Will Not Remain Silent with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Kahane in 2017; Joshua Bell performing world premiere of Einstein’s Light with pianist Marija Stroke at UNESCO in Paris as the finale of the United Nations Year of Light, 2015; the Washington National Opera performances of Let Freedom Sing: the story of Marian Anderson (libretto by Carolivia Herron); an evening of Adolphe works at The Kennedy Center; two full-length operas on Jewish subjects at The 92nd Street Y (Mikhoels the Wise and The False Messiah); nine world premieres at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
In the 2017-18 season, Adolphe’s one-act opera for family audiences, Emma and the Blue Baku, with a libretto by James Bradburne, was given its world premiere in Milan, Italy, at the Biblioteca Nazionale di Milan by the Civica Scuola di Musica Claudio Abbado, conducted by Marcello Parolini, stage direction by Kuniaki Ida, with costumes and scenery designed by Angelo Lodi. Also in December, I Will Not Remain Silent was performed by ROCO in Houston, with Scott St. John, soloist, and Michael Stern, conductor. Other premieres in 2017-2018 include Out of the Air (clarinet, cello, piano) at Ocean Reef Festival and then at Off the Hook Arts.
In the 2016-17 season, Adolphe’s Thuenpa Puen Zhi (Four Harmonious Friends), based on a Buddhist story, was premiered at the Off the Hook Arts Festival in Colorado, performed by members of the Silk Road Ensemble —Mike Block, Shane Shanahan, and Kaoru Watanabe — and bass trombonist Steve Wilson (University of Texas, El Paso) with Bruce Adolphe narrating and playing piano. Carlo Grante’s Naxos American Classics CD Chopin Dreams of piano works written for him by Bruce Adolphe was released this season.
Highlights of the 2015-16 season include the world premiere of Chopin Dreams at Alice Tully Hall, played by Italian pianist Carlo Grante, who also gave the European premiere at the Brahms-saal of the Musikverein, Vienna. This season also sees the release of the film Einstein’s Light by Nickolas Barris, featuring Adolphe’s score, which reflects Einstein’s devotion to playing violin and his love of the music of Mozart and Bach. The soundtrack features violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Marija Stroke, who also performed the work live at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton. Sony Masterworks has released a recording of Einstein’s Light with Joshua Bell and Marija Stroke, available as a download or streaming from all the major music sites. This July (2016) Fabio Luisi conducted the world premiere of Adolphe’s Piano Concerto with soloist Carlo Grante and the Zürich Philharmonia. In June, by Eliot Fisk played the world premiere of Suite for Pete, dedicated to the memory and humanitarian work of Pete Seeger, at the Off the Hook Arts Festival in Colorado.
Highlights of the 2014-15 season included the world premiere of Musics of Memory at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC in LA on October 27 and 28, 2014. The work — scored for piano, marimba, harp, and guitar — is structured to reflect the way memory works in the brain. After the performance, there was a discussion about memory, brain, and music with Antonio Damasio, Assal Habibi (director of music research at BCI), and Bruce Adolphe. Also that season, the IRIS Orchestra conducted by Michael Stern gave the world premiere of I Will Not Remain Silent, a violin concerto based on the life of Joachim Prinz, with Sharon Roffman, soloist. On January 19th, 2015, Joshua Bell and Marija Stroke performed highlights of the Einstein’s Light soundtrack live with scenes from the film projected on a screen for the finale of the opening ceremony of The International Year of Light at UNESCO in Paris.
Highlights of the 2013-14 season included performances by the LA Chamber Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Cassatt Quartet at the Crystal Bridges Museum and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, and the premiere of The End of Tonight (poems by Nathalie Handal) for three female voices, three cellos, and piano at the Greene Space in New York. The 2012-13 season included a premiere commissioned for the opening ceremony of MoMath, the only museum of mathematics in America, and a premiere in Lucerne performed by the Human Rights Orchestra, as well as performances from Santa Fe to Lisbon.
Over the past 25 years, Mr. Adolphe has served as composer-in-residence at many festivals and institutions throughout the United States for which he has also created and led educational concerts and workshops for all ages and levels of musical accomplishment. A key figure at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1992, Mr. Adolphe is the founder and director of the Society’s Meet the Music family concert series as well as the Society’s resident lecturer. He has appeared as a commentator on Live From Lincoln Center television and as a regular lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The author of three books on music, he has taught at Yale, Juilliard, and New York University. Since 2002, he performs his Piano Puzzlers weekly on public radio’s Performance Today, hosted by Fred Child. With Julian Fifer, Mr. Adolphe co-founded The Learning Maestros, a company dedicated to creating new works and related curricula that integrate music with other disciplines, including science, literature, history, and issues of social conscience. His book The Mind’s Ear: Exercises for Improving the Musical Imagination was published in a second edition in October 2013 by Oxford University Press. Mr. Adolphe’s music is recorded on many labels, including Bridge, Delos, Telarc, PollyRhythm, Albany, CRI, New World, and Naxos (American Masters series).
Mr. Adolphe was recently appointed composer-in-residence at the Brain and Creativity Institute in Los Angeles, where he works with neuroscientists Antonio and Hanna Damasio and Assal Habibi. He lives in New York City with his wife, the pianist Marija Stroke, their daughter Katja, and Polly Rhythm, the opera-singing parrot.