Friday, June 25, 2010

John Adams, filtered

John Adams, this country’s highest-profile composer of orchestral music and music-drama, maintains a blog . . .

. . . that is candid and funny, and offers the reader unusual insight on what, musical and otherwise, is going on in the mind of an active creative figure.

Compare Adams’ posts on "Hell Mouth" with the Adams portrayed by The Guardian’s Peter Conrad, who rather snarkily sketches a figure intent on self-promotion and prone to riffs of Grand-Old-Mannerism:

I don’t care to guess which is the "real" John Adams – I’ve talked with him face-to-face twice, and twice more on the phone, hardly sufficient grounds for character assessment; but the difference between the first-person Adams of "Hell Mouth" and Adams-via-Conrad is pretty striking.

As more creative figures take to speaking for themselves through media such as blogging, the versions of them strained through old-media filters appear more suspect. Or do they? Adams certainly wouldn’t be the first celebrity to craft a persona and selectively flesh it out using media that he controls.

If that’s what Adams is doing with "Hell Mouth," though, he does it better than most.