Composer, conductor, and pianist, Thomas Adès is one of the most diversely talented musical figures of his generation. His music is performed by great opera companies, symphony orchestras, chamber groups, and music festivals throughout the world. But Adès has resisted public discussion of the creative process behind his musical compositions. Until now, the interior experience that has fired the spectrum of his work—from his first opera, Powder Her Face, to his masterpiece The Tempest and his acclaimed orchestral works Asyla and Tevot—has largely remained unexplained. Here, in spirited, intimate, and, at times, contentious conversations with the distinguished music critic Tom Service, Adès opens up about his work. “For Adès, whose literary and artistic sensibilities are nearly as refined and virtuosic as his musical instincts,” writes Service, “inhabiting the different territory of words rather than notes offers a chance to search out new creative correspondences, to open doors—a phrase he often uses—into new ways of thinking in and about music.”
The phrase “full of noises,” from Caliban’s speech in The Tempest, refers both to the sounds “swirling around” Adès’s head that are transmuted into music and to the vast array of his musical influences—from Sephardic folk music, to 1980s electronica, to Adès’s passion for Beethoven and Janáček and his equally visceral dislike of Wagner. It also suggests “the creative friction” essential to any authentic dialogue. As readers of these “wilfully brilliant” conversations will quickly discover, Thomas Adès: Full of Noises brings us into the “revelatory kaleidoscope” of Adès’s world.