Samuel Hans Adler (born March 4, 1928) is an American composer and conductor.
He was born to a Jewish family in Mannheim, Germany, the son of Hugo Chaim Adler, a cantor and composer, and Selma Adler. The family fled to the United States in 1939, where Hugo became the cantor of Temple Emanuel in Worcester, Massachusetts. Sam followed his father into the music profession, earning degrees from Boston University and Harvard University (where he studied with Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, Paul Pisk, Walter Piston, and Randall Thompson and earned an M.A. in 1950). He studied conducting with Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood in 1949. Adler has been awarded honorary doctorates from Southern Methodist and Wake Forest Universities, St. Mary's College of Notre Dame and the St. Louis Conservatory of Music.
While serving in the United States Army (1950–1952), Adler founded and conducted the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra. After his military service he was offered a conducting position just vacated by Leonard Bernstein on the faculty of Brandeis University but instead accepted a position as music director at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas, where the rabbi, Levi Olan, was a friend of Adler's family. Adler began his tenure in Dallas in 1953. At the Dallas temple he formed a children's choir and an adult choir and made the latter a prominent part of the religious services, often performing contemporary Jewish choral works that might otherwise have been neglected. From 1954 to 1958 Adler conducted the Dallas Lyric Theater. Adler is married to Dr. Emily Freeman-Brown of Bowling Green State University, who serves as Director of Orchestral Activities. From 1957 to 1966, Adler served as Professor of Composition at the University of North Texas College of Music. Between 1966 and 1995, Adler served as Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music. Since 1997, Adler has been a member of the composition faculty at Juilliard and, for the 2009–10 year, was awarded the William Schuman Scholars Chair.
Adler has given master classes and workshops at over 300 universities worldwide, and in the summers has taught at major music festivals such as Tanglewood, Aspen, Brevard, Bowdoin, as well as others in France, Germany, Israel, Spain, Austria, Poland, South America and Korea. He is also the author of three books, Choral Conducting(Holt Rinehart and Winston 1971, second edition Schirmer Books 1985), Sight Singing (W.W. Norton 1979, 1997), and The Study of Orchestration (W.W. Norton 1982, 1989, 2001; Italian edition edited by Lorenzo Ferrero for EDT Srl Torino, 2008). He has also contributed numerous articles to major magazines, books and encyclopaedias published in the U.S. and abroad.
Adler has been awarded many prizes, including a membership into the American Academy in Berlin and Institute of Arts and Letters awarded in May 2001, the Charles Ives Award, the Lillian Fairchild Award, etc. In May, 2003, he was presented with the Aaron Copland Award by ASCAP for Lifetime Achievement in Music (Composition and Teaching). In 2008 he was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. In 1999, he was elected to the Academy of Arts, Berlin for distinguished service to music. In 1983, he won the Deems Taylor Award for his book on orchestration; in 1984, he was appointed Honorary Professorial Fellow of the University College in Cardiff, Wales, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 1984–85. He has been a MacDowell Fellow for five years between 1954 and 1963. In 1986 he received the "Distinguished Alumni Award" from Boston University.
The Music Teachers' National Association selected Adler as its "Composer of the Year 1986–87" for Quintalogues, which won the national competition. In the 1988–89 year, he has been designated "Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar." In 1989, he was awarded The Eastman School's Eisenhart Award for distinguished teaching, and he has been given the honour of Composer of the Year (1991) for the American Guild of Organists. During his second visit to Chile, Adler was elected to the Chilean Academy of Fine Arts (1993) "for his outstanding contributions to the world of music as composer, conductor, and author." He was initiated as an honorary member of the Gamma Theta (1960, University of North Texas) and the Alpha Alpha (1966, National Honorary) chapters of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and in 1986 was named a National Arts Associate to Sigma Alpha Iota, international music fraternity for women. In 1998, he was awarded the Brock Commission from the American Choral Directors Association.
Adler's catalogue includes over 400 published works in all media, including five operas, six symphonies, ten string quartets, at least eleven concerti (organ, piano, violin, viola or clarinet, cello, flute, guitar, saxophone quartet, woodwind quintet), many shorter orchestral works, works for wind ensemble and band, chamber music, a great deal of choral music and songs.
Since 1997 he has been a member of the composition faculty at the Juilliard School in New York City. Among his most successful students are composers Fisher Tull, Kamran Ince, Eric Ewazen, Claude Baker, Marc Mellits, Robert Paterson, Gordon Stout, Chris Theofanidis, Michael Glenn Williams, Gordon Chin and Roger Briggs.