John Adams To Be Awarded 2019 Erasmus Prize

By Nicole Kuchta

The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, a Dutch cultural institution dedicated to supporting the arts and humanities, announced on Feb. 21 that composer John Adams will be awarded its 2019 Erasmus Prize.

According to the press release, the prize “is awarded annually to a person or institution that has made an exceptional contribution to the field of humanities, social sciences or the arts.” The theme for this year is “Composing for today.”

The Foundation believes that Adams’ fusion of jazz, pop, and classical music “has made contemporary classical music ‘communicate’ again.” They also note that through his incorporation of important social themes throughout his works, he recognizes and promotes “the social function of classical music.”

The prize of €150,000 will be presented in November by the Patron of the Foundation, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. The award ceremony will be complemented by a series of academic and cultural events highlighting Adams’ achievements.

Former laureates of the Erasmus Prize include Marc Chagall (1960), Ingmar Bergman (1965), Olivier Messiaen (1971), and Peter Sellars (1998).