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Absolute Jest, a new album from John Adams
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John Adams Mines Beethoven's Mind

Updated November 10, 20151:38 PM ET

NPR Staff

All composers have obsessions. For John Adams, a composer who decidedly broke with the past, that obsession is Beethoven, as heard in the new album Absolute Jest.

"We have music that we love so much that we kind of want to get under the skin of that composer," Adams says. "For me taking not so much melodies but just little harmonic fragments, like fractals, from Beethoven and putting them through the black box of my own musical personality was real stimulation to my invention."

This album consists of two works, both distinctly contemporary, inspired by Adams' love of Beethoven. He sat down with NPR's Renee Montagne to talk about the string quartet concerto Absolute Jest and an older piece, Grand Pianola Music.

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