counter create hit Silences So Deep: Music, Solitude, Alaska - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Silences So Deep: Music, Solitude, Alaska

Availability: Ready to download

In the summer of 1975, the composer John Luther Adams, then a twenty-two-year-old graduate of CalArts, boarded a flight to Alaska. So began a journey into the mountains, forests, and tundra of the far north--and across distinctive mental and aural terrain--that would last for the next forty years. Silences So Deep is Adams's account of these formative decades--and of what i In the summer of 1975, the composer John Luther Adams, then a twenty-two-year-old graduate of CalArts, boarded a flight to Alaska. So began a journey into the mountains, forests, and tundra of the far north--and across distinctive mental and aural terrain--that would last for the next forty years. Silences So Deep is Adams's account of these formative decades--and of what it's like to live alone in the frozen woods, composing music by day and spending one's evenings with a raucous crew of poets, philosophers, and fishermen. From adolescent loves--Edgard Var�se and Frank Zappa--to mature preoccupations with the natural world that inform such works as The Wind in High Places, Adams details the influences that have allowed him to emerge as one of the most celebrated and recognizable composers of our time. Silences So Deep is also a memoir of solitude enriched by friendships with the likes of the conductor Gordon Wright and the poet John Haines, both of whom had a singular impact on Adams's life. Whether describing the travails of environmental activism in the midst of an oil boom or midwinter conversations in a communal sauna, Adams writes with a voice both playful and meditative, one that evokes the particular beauty of the Alaskan landscape and the people who call it home. Ultimately, this book is also the story of Adams's difficult decision to leave a rapidly warming Alaska and to strike out for new topographies and sources of inspiration. In its attentiveness to the challenges of life in the wilderness, to the demands of making art in an age of climate crisis, and to the pleasures of intellectual fellowship, Silences So Deep is a singularly rich account of a creative life.


Compare

In the summer of 1975, the composer John Luther Adams, then a twenty-two-year-old graduate of CalArts, boarded a flight to Alaska. So began a journey into the mountains, forests, and tundra of the far north--and across distinctive mental and aural terrain--that would last for the next forty years. Silences So Deep is Adams's account of these formative decades--and of what i In the summer of 1975, the composer John Luther Adams, then a twenty-two-year-old graduate of CalArts, boarded a flight to Alaska. So began a journey into the mountains, forests, and tundra of the far north--and across distinctive mental and aural terrain--that would last for the next forty years. Silences So Deep is Adams's account of these formative decades--and of what it's like to live alone in the frozen woods, composing music by day and spending one's evenings with a raucous crew of poets, philosophers, and fishermen. From adolescent loves--Edgard Var�se and Frank Zappa--to mature preoccupations with the natural world that inform such works as The Wind in High Places, Adams details the influences that have allowed him to emerge as one of the most celebrated and recognizable composers of our time. Silences So Deep is also a memoir of solitude enriched by friendships with the likes of the conductor Gordon Wright and the poet John Haines, both of whom had a singular impact on Adams's life. Whether describing the travails of environmental activism in the midst of an oil boom or midwinter conversations in a communal sauna, Adams writes with a voice both playful and meditative, one that evokes the particular beauty of the Alaskan landscape and the people who call it home. Ultimately, this book is also the story of Adams's difficult decision to leave a rapidly warming Alaska and to strike out for new topographies and sources of inspiration. In its attentiveness to the challenges of life in the wilderness, to the demands of making art in an age of climate crisis, and to the pleasures of intellectual fellowship, Silences So Deep is a singularly rich account of a creative life.

30 review for Silences So Deep: Music, Solitude, Alaska

  1. 5 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Silences So Deep is composer John Luther Adams’s memoir in which he discusses moving to Alaska when he was only 22 and spending the next four decades of his life living and creating music there. In places, this was a touching book, especially as he discussed his friendships with the conductor of the Arctic Chamber Orchestra Gordon Wright and Alaska's poet laureate John Haines; the title of this book actually comes from a John Haines poem: “There are silences so deep you can hear the journeys of Silences So Deep is composer John Luther Adams’s memoir in which he discusses moving to Alaska when he was only 22 and spending the next four decades of his life living and creating music there. In places, this was a touching book, especially as he discussed his friendships with the conductor of the Arctic Chamber Orchestra Gordon Wright and Alaska's poet laureate John Haines; the title of this book actually comes from a John Haines poem: “There are silences so deep you can hear the journeys of the soul, enormous footsteps downward in a freezing earth.” There are definitely beautiful moments in this memoir and I had enough interest to keep reading until the end, but the writing fell fairly flat for me. With such an emotionally resonant title, I did expect there to be more discussion about the author’s connection to the Alaskan landscape and some introspection about how living in this inhospitable part of the world influenced his work. In short, I wanted this to go deeper, and yet it stayed at surface level. The memories selected to be included in the book were more what you could expect from someone telling you his life story at a dinner party rather than someone looking to bare their soul on the page. But if a more simple retelling of events is what you look for out of a memoir, then this very well may be for you. Certainly, if you’re a fan of his music, this would be a good one to pick up, especially since he discusses the creative process of bringing certain works of his to life. Otherwise, this isn’t one to write home about.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I've experienced one of John Luther Adams's works before - Inuksuit - which was performed by over 50 percussionists outdoors at Furman. The audience walks around inside of it, and the music interacts with the sounds naturally in the space. I remember the ending fading into birdsong, which was very cool. Hearing from the author, about his connections to other artists (including Lou Harrison, one of my great loves) and how he has been inspired by the natural landscape of Alaska (or maybe his creati I've experienced one of John Luther Adams's works before - Inuksuit - which was performed by over 50 percussionists outdoors at Furman. The audience walks around inside of it, and the music interacts with the sounds naturally in the space. I remember the ending fading into birdsong, which was very cool. Hearing from the author, about his connections to other artists (including Lou Harrison, one of my great loves) and how he has been inspired by the natural landscape of Alaska (or maybe his creative impulses aligned with Alaskan landscapes, an idea he explores near the end) - for me this was a fascinating read. I had a copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss; it came out September 22nd, 2020.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Christenson

    not sure i would even recommend this so highly to many other people — what i like about it feels so personal — but it resonates with me immensely wrt how to live a life, be an artist, etc. one of my greatest heroes

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Schirmer

    A very tender & personal memoir of living and composing in Alaska. Adam's writing style is plain and direct. Recommended reading alongside a smoky malt and Becoming Ocean on the hifi. A very tender & personal memoir of living and composing in Alaska. Adam's writing style is plain and direct. Recommended reading alongside a smoky malt and Becoming Ocean on the hifi.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chris LaTray

    Last year, after John Luther Adams and his work was mentioned in an interview with Barry Lopez, I acquired Being Ocean and Being Desert. I’ve listened to both recordings relentlessly ever since, but didn’t know much of Adams himself. This wonderful memoir fills in those blanks. I feel kinship to these people who seek out extreme measures of solitude in which to work, and Adams is certainly one of them. I enjoyed reading his book while listening to his music as well; truly a sublime experience. Wh Last year, after John Luther Adams and his work was mentioned in an interview with Barry Lopez, I acquired Being Ocean and Being Desert. I’ve listened to both recordings relentlessly ever since, but didn’t know much of Adams himself. This wonderful memoir fills in those blanks. I feel kinship to these people who seek out extreme measures of solitude in which to work, and Adams is certainly one of them. I enjoyed reading his book while listening to his music as well; truly a sublime experience. What I think I appreciate most, however, is the descriptions of Adams's friendships, mostly with the conductor Gordon Wright and the poet John Haines, both since passed away. These relationships, and the other people who moved in their circle, were cause for deep reflection on similar relationships in my life, and, mostly, the lack of them. They are important; the book inspires me to want to do better at preserving the close relationships I have as well as cultivate new ones. I really loved this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cody

    A compact but rich and well-crafted memoir that’s rooted deeply in place, experience, art, activism, and friendship. Also, a worthy companion to John Haines’s The Stars, the Snow, the Fire, together serving as bookends to a period of life in Alaska that is all but gone, due to political and environmental catastrophes.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Garnett

    A partial memoir the book helped me understand the motivations behind the authors music, and a glimpse into Alaskan society and the impact of climate change. It contains some lovely images and thoughts on how to engage with the arts.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    Loved this book, written by my friend John Luther Adams. Is music really just math?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben Westhoff

    I came to this book, via the Harper's review, for the Alaska porn, and the book delivers on the details: the stunning landscape, the vast wilderness, the bears, and, of course, the cold. Adams describes the cabin in Fairbanks where he lived for years, located not on the south-facing hills, but down below in the permafrost-ed forest, where it's much colder and the sun doesn't even reach for weeks at a time. Often the temperature didn't rise above 40 below. But he loved it! He enjoyed the silence, I came to this book, via the Harper's review, for the Alaska porn, and the book delivers on the details: the stunning landscape, the vast wilderness, the bears, and, of course, the cold. Adams describes the cabin in Fairbanks where he lived for years, located not on the south-facing hills, but down below in the permafrost-ed forest, where it's much colder and the sun doesn't even reach for weeks at a time. Often the temperature didn't rise above 40 below. But he loved it! He enjoyed the silence, the solitude, and the time alone to compose his music, which is not of the European classical tradition, but rather is experimental and often meant to invoke natural sounds. It's not for everyone -- almost none of it contains what we think of as melody -- but it does inspire the imagination, and won him a Pulitzer Prize. His descriptions of his compositional processes mesmerized me as well, and I was all in for the first 2/3rds of this book. Unfortunately it then...fell off a cliff. Adams is not a writer by trade, but his editor should have insisted on a chronological narrative. The book bounces around in time, and sometimes, most painfully, slips into present tense. The final sections concern his close Alaska friends, the conductor Gordon Wright, and the writer John Haines. They both sound like capital fellows, but the (non-sequential, varied-tense) anecdotes often sound like you had to be there. Still, five stars! The writing about Alaska, the cold, and Adams' own art is crisp and compelling. The ending is forgiven. Adams froze his butt off contemplating existence so you don't have to, and I suspect I'll retain his lessons for a long time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Janine

    "Coming here to this cabin in the boreal forest, I imagine that I'm running away from everything. But I'm actually running to everything. Here I will find the home I never had. I will also find my people, a ragtag and sometimes rowdy crew of musicians, poets, fishermen, and other kindred spirits we come to call the Ace Lake Sauna Society. And in time, I will come to discover the full shape of my life's work here." Composer John Luther Adams has written in Silences So Deep a loving and contemplati "Coming here to this cabin in the boreal forest, I imagine that I'm running away from everything. But I'm actually running to everything. Here I will find the home I never had. I will also find my people, a ragtag and sometimes rowdy crew of musicians, poets, fishermen, and other kindred spirits we come to call the Ace Lake Sauna Society. And in time, I will come to discover the full shape of my life's work here." Composer John Luther Adams has written in Silences So Deep a loving and contemplative tribute to interior Alaska and to his dear friends, the conductor Gordon Wright and the poet John Haines. This memoir maps his path to something resembling wholeness as an artist. It was a delight to read. "[...] Find your own private Walden, in the woods or in the city, whatever and wherever it may be. Make your own bad choices. And make them with conviction. For a long time afterward, I viewed my years in the woods as my 'lost decade.' Yet if I had it to do over again, I'd probably make exactly the same mistakes. As difficult as that period was in some respects, it endures in my memory as a kind of dreamtime. This didn't come cheaply, for me or for people I love. It almost lost me the love of my life. But those years in the woods were essential for me, as an artist and as a man. In our shared solitude, I found a sense of community that I doubt I could've found in any other place. And the visions of music and of the world that emerged in that cabin have sustained me ever since."

  11. 5 out of 5

    FL

    Knowing JLA's music at least somewhat, I might have come into this book with the wrong expectations, thinking it might be more music and less memoir. And, to be fair, I have every reason to think that his other books might do that; I haven't read them other than in fragments in the New Yorker. But this book is, on its own, simply...pleasant? I certainly cannot deny that John Luther Adams has led an interesting life, and this book fills me in on how he ended up moving to Alaska and leaving, and gi Knowing JLA's music at least somewhat, I might have come into this book with the wrong expectations, thinking it might be more music and less memoir. And, to be fair, I have every reason to think that his other books might do that; I haven't read them other than in fragments in the New Yorker. But this book is, on its own, simply...pleasant? I certainly cannot deny that John Luther Adams has led an interesting life, and this book fills me in on how he ended up moving to Alaska and leaving, and gives a nice conversational sense of what it was like to live in interior Alaska in the 80s---as another of the reviewers here said, it's a bit like hearing stories at a dinner party. But if a memoir's published like this, you'd expect it to have more of a connection to the author's broader life project, and other than a few hints (the page or two about his interactions with Native Americans and their music), this book is lacking on that front.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rob Hermanowski

    I became interested in exploring the music of John Luther after learning that he had won a Pulitzer Prize for his orchestral piece "Become Ocean." This autobiographical work focuses on Adams' four decades of living in Alaska, and the musical inspiration that he drew from living there. This book strikes a good balance between Adams' description of life under frequently extreme conditions and his compositional process. Although Jim Meskimen does a very good job with the narration, I was a little d I became interested in exploring the music of John Luther after learning that he had won a Pulitzer Prize for his orchestral piece "Become Ocean." This autobiographical work focuses on Adams' four decades of living in Alaska, and the musical inspiration that he drew from living there. This book strikes a good balance between Adams' description of life under frequently extreme conditions and his compositional process. Although Jim Meskimen does a very good job with the narration, I was a little disappointed that Adams himself did not read the book, but this is a minor complaint. John Luther Adams' music is well worth exploring for anyone with an interest in the contemporary classical scene.

  13. 4 out of 5

    June Kim

    Composer John Luther Adams is a captivating writer in this autobiography. He is often associated with being from Alaska and the state’s influences on his musical works, but his conception of music and purpose for composing goes so far beyond a specific place—no matter how grand or reverent. Although technically an autobiography, this book also seemed like a tribute to those he loved, and I found some of the most touching parts to be the narrations of his friendships with Gordon Wright and John H Composer John Luther Adams is a captivating writer in this autobiography. He is often associated with being from Alaska and the state’s influences on his musical works, but his conception of music and purpose for composing goes so far beyond a specific place—no matter how grand or reverent. Although technically an autobiography, this book also seemed like a tribute to those he loved, and I found some of the most touching parts to be the narrations of his friendships with Gordon Wright and John Haines.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Babette

    I was not aware of Adams’ work as a composer when I started reading this book. You could say I came for the silence and Alaska and stayed for the music. This book is as beautiful and lyrical as the poetry he sets to music. I don’t quite understand his details of the works he creates, but my next step is to find recordings of his compositions and understand how it fits together with his life, his endeavors and his environmental activism.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sean Duffy

    When I started this book, the style seemed utilitarian: a practical telling of a progression through life. What emerges is the gradual assembly of an elegy - to life, to art, to friendship Andy to love: love of place, time, and the relationships we develop with all these things and the others we share them with. I finished with tears in my eyes and a deep yearning to build and celebrate the meaning in my own life.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Garnett

    so good, I read half a chapter last night then the rest I read almost solidly this morning from 4am until I'd finished 5or 6 hours later. A must for anyone interested in environmental activism, wilderness, music, composing, the philosophy of art, Alaska and climate change. also it made me want to listen to more of his music. and paint a picture. and be a better version of me. so good, I read half a chapter last night then the rest I read almost solidly this morning from 4am until I'd finished 5or 6 hours later. A must for anyone interested in environmental activism, wilderness, music, composing, the philosophy of art, Alaska and climate change. also it made me want to listen to more of his music. and paint a picture. and be a better version of me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Charming. I loved the descriptions of his life in Alaska; didn't love the explanations of composing music so much, though I guess I should have expected that given the subject of the book. The writing style was not the best but especially towards the end as he reflects on his friendships throughout his time in Alaska, you could really feel his emotions come alive. Charming. I loved the descriptions of his life in Alaska; didn't love the explanations of composing music so much, though I guess I should have expected that given the subject of the book. The writing style was not the best but especially towards the end as he reflects on his friendships throughout his time in Alaska, you could really feel his emotions come alive.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steven Roberts

    Gorgeous and fascinating descriptions of John Luther Adams' life and work in Alaska, including inspirations for his pieces and his friendships along the way. I came away from this book with a deeper appreciation of Alaska, nature it's self and John Luther Adams' music. I hope to listen to much more of his music and do a deep dive into it. Gorgeous and fascinating descriptions of John Luther Adams' life and work in Alaska, including inspirations for his pieces and his friendships along the way. I came away from this book with a deeper appreciation of Alaska, nature it's self and John Luther Adams' music. I hope to listen to much more of his music and do a deep dive into it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Creamer

    Experience, friendship, music. Will enhance future listening to JLA.

  20. 5 out of 5

    bookinglibrarian

    John Luther Adams evocative memoir makes the reader want to see, hear and experience more of nature, art and life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Menke

    Chris’ review echoes my feelings as well. Very enjoyable read about an amazing, admirable person.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    The writing was clunky, but reading about the close relationship between Adams and his friends, Gordon Write and John Haines, was worth it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bob

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Bristol

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Kessler

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anthony D'Agostino

  27. 4 out of 5

    Noah

  28. 4 out of 5

    Klaas

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Good

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hugo Romero

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.