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 modernist composer. He is one of the most respected composers of the second half of the 20th century, having combined elements of European modernism and American "ultra-modernism" into a distinctive style with a personal harmonic and rhythmic language, after an early neoclassical phase. His compositions are known and performed throughout the world, and include orchestral, chamber music, solo instrumental, and vocal works. Carter was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Born in New York, he had developed an interest in modern music in the 1920s. He was later introduced to Charles Ives, and later came to appreciate the American ‘ultra-modernists’. After studying at Harvard University, he studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in the 1930s, then returned to the United States. Carter 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
Mosaic for ensemble
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Mosaic for ensemble
Elliott Carter
What Next?
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What Next?
Elliott Carter
Epigrams: 2
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Epigrams: 2
Elliott Carter
90+ for piano
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90+ for piano
Elliott Carter
Epigrams: 3
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Epigrams: 3
Elliott Carter
Epigrams: I
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Epigrams: I
Elliott Carter
Instances
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Instances
Elliott Carter
Thoughts about the Piano, No. 2 - Catenaires
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Thoughts about the Piano, No. 2 - Catenaires
Elliott Carter
Musicians Wrestle Everywhere
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Musicians Wrestle Everywhere
Elliott Carter
Heart not so heavy as mine
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Heart not so heavy as mine
Elliott Carter
To Music (1937)
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To Music (1937)

To Music (1937)

Singer
Eva-Maria Schappé
Choir
SWR Vocal Ensemble of Stuttgart
Conductor
Elliott Carter
Interventions (2007)
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Interventions (2007)
Elliott Carter
Three Poems of Robert Frost
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Three Poems of Robert Frost

Three Poems of Robert Frost

Ensemble
Ensemble Speculum Musicae
Elliott Carter
Instances (2012)
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Instances (2012)
Elliott Carter
Tell Me Where is Fancy Bred
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Tell Me Where is Fancy Bred
Elliott Carter
Soundings for Orchestra (2005)
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Soundings for Orchestra (2005)
Elliott Carter
Musicians Wrestle Everywhere
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Musicians Wrestle Everywhere

Musicians Wrestle Everywhere

Choir
SWR Vocal Ensemble of Stuttgart
Conductor
Elliott Carter
Elegy for viola and piano
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Elegy for viola and piano
Elliott Carter
Penthode (Proms 2016)
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Penthode (Proms 2016)
Elliott Carter
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 16
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Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 16
Elliott Carter
Musicians Wrestle Everywhere
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Musicians Wrestle Everywhere
Elliott Carter
Penthode
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Penthode
Elliott Carter
Caténaires
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Caténaires
Elliott Carter
Triple Duo
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Triple Duo
Elliott Carter
Sonata For Piano - 2nd movement
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Sonata For Piano - 2nd movement
Nash Ensemble
Poems of Louis Zukofsky for soprano and clarinet
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Poems of Louis Zukofsky for soprano and clarinet
Elliott Carter
Symphonia sum fluxae pretum spei
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Symphonia sum fluxae pretum spei
Elliott Carter
Boston Concerto
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Boston Concerto
Elliott Carter
Holiday Overture
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Holiday Overture
Arditti Quartet
Quartet No.5
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Quartet No.5
Elliott Carter
Variations for orchestra (1955)
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Variations for orchestra (1955)
Nicolas Hodges
Two Controversies and a Conversation (2010/11) for piano, perc and chamber orch
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Two Controversies and a Conversation (2010/11) for piano, perc and chamber orch
Nicolas Hodges
Epigrams for piano trio (2012)
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Epigrams for piano trio (2012)
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

8 Etudes and a Fantasy for woodwing quartet

Performer
Chamber Orchestra of Europe WInd Soloists
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)
Elliott Carter
Elegy for String Quartet
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Elegy for String Quartet
Elliott Carter
Boston Concerto (feat. BBC Symphony Orchestra)
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Boston Concerto (feat. BBC Symphony Orchestra)
BBC Singers & Elliott Carter
To Music
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To Music

To Music

Performer
BBC Singers & Elliott Carter
Elliot Carter
Sound Fields
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Sound Fields

Sound Fields

Performer
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen
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