Elliott Carter
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1908-12-11
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Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter Biography (BBC)

It is hard to think of a precedent for the self-renewing prodigality of Elliott Carter. But then, as a New York schoolboy after the First World War, he grew up at a time when musical modernism itself was still in its youth. Personally encouraged by Charles Ives, and excited early on by the breakthrough masterpieces of Skryabin, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Bartók and Varèse, Carter retains to this day a notion of modernism as an emancipation from convention, a continuing urge towards freshness of sound and expression.

Admittedly, after briefly studying with Holst at Harvard in 1932, he submitted to the rigours of three years under Nadia Boulanger in Paris, an experience which convinced him that radicalism could only communicate if expressed with a coherence that made it worth the effort of performers and audiences. Meanwhile, back in the USA, he had to come to terms with the leftish populist mood of the New Deal and Second World War years, exemplified by the works of Copland.

Following the still-tonal, out-of-doors style of the early First Symphony (1942) and Holiday Overture (1944), with his majestic Piano Sonata (1946) he embarked upon a radical redefining of musical technique, from the most basic elements of rhythm and pitch to the overall ‘time sweep’ of entire musical forms. Unlike some figures of the new avant-garde, Carter never regarded technical innovation as an end in itself but as a means to capture – with a ‘focused freedom’ – the teeming simultaneities and changefulness of modern life.

The result was a slowly appearing succession of vastly detailed masterpieces, ranging from the huge First String Quartet (1951), by way of the coruscating Double Concerto (1961) to the tumultuous Concerto for Orchestra (1969) that established his international reputation. The reward for this heroic middle period has been the increasing ease and spontaneity of his composing in more recent years, enabling him not only to complete the largest orchestral project of his life, Symphonia (1992–6), in his late-eighties, but a dazzling array of concertante works, song-settings, shorter instrumental showpieces – and even (at 90!) his first opera, What Next?.And since then Carter has completed still further major scores such as the Cello Concerto (2001) and his Boston Concerto (2002).

Twice a Pulitzer Prize-winner and central to the repertories of such artists as Pierre Boulez, Oliver Knussen, James Levine, Charles Rosen and the Arditti Quartet, Carter remains a man of formidable culture, and an artist of sometimes tragic vision. But, as the airy, volatile textures of such scores as his Nash Ensemble commission Mosaic (2004) exemplify yet again, he continues to be animated by a mercurial lightness of spirit.

Profile © Bayan Northcott

Elliott Carter Biography (Wikipedia)

Elliott Cook Carter Jr. (December 11, 1908 – November 5, 2012) was an American composer who was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in the 1930s, then returned to the United States. After an early neoclassical phase, his style shifted to an emphasis on atonality and rhythmic complexity. His compositions are known and performed throughout the world; they include orchestral, chamber music, solo instrumental, and vocal works.

He was productive in his later years, publishing more than 40 works between the ages of 90 and 100, and over 20 more after he turned 100 in 2008. He completed his last work, Epigrams for piano trio, on August 13, 2012.

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Elliott Carter Performances & Interviews


Elliott Carter Tracks

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Elliott Carter
Caténaires
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Caténaires
Elliott Carter
Sonata For Piano - 2nd movement
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Sonata For Piano - 2nd movement
The Nash Ensemble
Poems of Louis Zukofsky for soprano and clarinet
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Poems of Louis Zukofsky for soprano and clarinet
Nicolas Hodges
Two Thoughts About the Piano: Intermittences (2005); Catenaires (2006)
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Two Thoughts About the Piano: Intermittences (2005); Catenaires (2006)
Nicolas Hodges
Tri-Tribute for piano: Matribute (2007); Fratribute (2008); Sistribute (2008)
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Tri-Tribute for piano: Matribute (2007); Fratribute (2008); Sistribute (2008)
Nicolas Hodges
Dialogues (2003) for piano and chamber orchestra - Scottish premiere
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Dialogues (2003) for piano and chamber orchestra - Scottish premiere
Elliott Carter
La Musique
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La Musique
Elliott Carter
Instances for chamber orchestra
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Instances for chamber orchestra
Elliott Carter
8 Etudes and a Fantasy for woodwing quartet
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8 Etudes and a Fantasy for woodwing quartet
Onyx Brass
Fantasy about Purcell's 'Fantasy on one note'..
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Fantasy about Purcell's 'Fantasy on one note'..
Alisa Weilerstein
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (feat. Staatskapelle Berlin)
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Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (feat. Staatskapelle Berlin)
Colin Currie
Figment V for percussion (LIVE)
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Figment V for percussion (LIVE)
BBC Singers & Elliott Carter
To Music
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To Music
Elliot Carter
Sound Fields
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Sound Fields
Elliott Carter
Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux
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Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux
Elliott Carter
Adagio Tenebroso
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Adagio Tenebroso
Elliott Carter
Quartet for strings no. 2 (excerpt)
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Quartet for strings no. 2 (excerpt)
Elliott Carter
Penthode (excerpt)
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Penthode (excerpt)
Elliott Carter
Concerto for orchestra (excerpt)
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Concerto for orchestra (excerpt)
Elliott Carter
Piano Sonata
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Piano Sonata
Elliott Carter
The Harmony of Morning (excerpt)
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The Harmony of Morning (excerpt)
Elliott Carter
Partita for orchestra
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Partita for orchestra
Elliott Carter
A Celebration of some 100 x 150 Notes (Three Occasions for Orchestra)
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A Celebration of some 100 x 150 Notes (Three Occasions for Orchestra)
Elliott Carter
Quartet for strings no. 5
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Quartet for strings no. 5
Elliott Carter
Dialogues for piano and chamber orchestra
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Dialogues for piano and chamber orchestra
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