A tribute to Henze and Carter
In this week’s edition of Music Matters Tom Service pays tribute to two gigantic figures of post-war music who have died in the last couple of weeks: the German composer Hans Werner Henze, who was 86 and the American composer Elliott Carter who was in his 104th year.
Tom is joined in the studio by the critic, author and librettist of Carter's only opera, Paul Griffiths and composers Mark-Anthony Turnage and Detlev Glanert, who studied with Henze. Together they assess the loss to the world of music and what these two very different composers contributed in their decades of ceaseless creativity. We hear Henze's inimitable, urbane voice in interviews he gave for the BBC over the years, showing how this lyrical, expressive composer formed his voice after the horrors of the Second World War, how the avant-grade rejected his music as too conventional, too emotional, and how he refused to toe any narrow party-line of style or of politics to create a musical world that sings and soars, which reflects his times and ours in its thrilling richness, contradictions and poetry.
Elliott Carter's musical universe was completely different from Henze's; but what they shared was an irresistible compulsion to compose. Carter was working right up until his death, and he had written more music in the last couple of decades of his life than in his first 80 years - a unique phenomenon not just in music, but in the entire history of human creativity. Pierre Boulez explains how Carter created “his own environment” and what compelled him to perform and commission music by the composer; Irvine Arditti, founder and leader of the Arditti Quartet, talks about Carter's string quartets and their significance in renewing the genre; and Pierre-Laurent Aimard remembers Carter at recent Aldeburgh Festivals, of which he is the Artistic Director, and how the music Carter composed in his second century had the energy, vivacity, and imagination of that of a young man. Mark-Anthony Turnage talks about how he was influenced by the American composer too.