Massachusetts-born composer John Coolidge Adams was born on February 15, 1947. A graduate of Harvard University, he moved to California and taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. There he built a reputation for innovative advocacy of contemporary works which led to a position as adviser to the San Francisco Symphony, and then, from 1979 to 1985 as the orchestra's composer-in-residence.
It was in this position that Adams' established himself as a composer beginning with the controversal opera Nixon in China premiering in 1987 and winning the 1989 Grammy for "Best Contemporary Composition". His second opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, was first performed in 1991.
Instrumental works by Adams include the Harmonium (1980), Shaker Loops (1978/83), Grand Pianola Music (1982), The Chairman Dances (1985), the fanfare Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986), Fearful Symmetries (1988), Chamber Symphony (1992), Violin Concerto (1993), Gnarly Buttons (1996), Century Rolls (1997), and Naive and Sentimental Music (1998). His On The Transmigration of Souls for Choruses, Orchestra, and Electronic Sound won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Adams is among the the most frequently-performed living American composers.