This piece is da bomb

July 16, 2016 at 10:00 am

On this day, in 1945, the first nuclear weapon, codenamed “Trinity“, was detonated in Alamogordo NM, as part of The Manhattan Project. The project’s leader, J. Robert Oppenheimer, lived a wild life as magical and worthy of any ancient Norse saga. It’s hard not to read about him without invoking an air of mysticism. For one, the codename “Trinity” came from a devotional poem by John Donne: “As West and East / In all flatt Maps—and I am one—are one, / So death doth touch the Resurrection.” andBatter my heart, three person’d God.” More than that, Oppenheimer said the bomb test brought to mind words from the Hindu poem, Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

American composer John Adams was commissioned to write an opera titled Doctor Atomic, in which Oppenheimer was to be portrayed as a modern-day Faust. The opera’s text was taken from declassified military and scientific documents, and sacred poetry. This politically edgy opera made quite a scene when it premiered in 2005, and was later performed at the Met (which is a HUGE deal for any contemporary opera.) Adams later adapted a “Dr. Atomic Symphony” for orchestral concert use. Musically, its style incorporates elements of neo-romanticism, film music, and post-minimalism (ok, I admit, I just made up that last word!)