Composer John Adams Wins 2019 Erasmus Prize

By Megan Westberg

It was announced yesterday that the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation—a Dutch cultural institution that supports the humanities, social sciences, and the arts—will award composer John Adams with its 2019 Erasmus Prize, which includes €150,000 in prize money. This year’s theme was “Composing for Today.”


Citing his creation of a new music idiom, by the fusion of jazz, pop, and classical music, the foundation, in a statement, praises Adams’ achievements in making contemporary classical music “communicate,” in addition to the importance of the social and humanist themes he weaves so often into his work.

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, the foundation’s patron, will present the award to Adams in November. Former laureates include Marc Chagall, Ingmar Bergman, Olivier Messiaen, and Peter Sellars.

For more about Adams’ music, read “John Adams’ Development as a Composer Can Be Charted in String Music.”