Carter at 100
December 10, 2008 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Elliot Carter, American Composer, turns 100 Born in 1908, Carter's life is a virtual biography of twentieth century music. He attended the US premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring and studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Perhaps a slow developer, Carter didn't write his first opera until he was over the age of 90. He turns 100 tomorrow, December 11th.

A brief and two longer overviews of his career and a transcript of a fairly recent interview. Also, there are plenty of celebration concerts this season.
posted by ob (17 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. I guess there goes Carl Ruggles's record for longest-lived American composer.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:11 PM on December 10, 2008

What's amazing about Carter is he's so uncompromising. He started as an English major at Harvard, took a course on Harmony and was laughed at. This interview shows him as a jolly grandfather type with a personality quite different from his music. Any recommendations of his works?
posted by bodywithoutorgans at 3:22 PM on December 10, 2008

Well I guess that the Concerto for Orchestra is one of his most famous works, but there are some others that are worth checking out before that. Indeed his recent music is much more transparent than his earlier pieces, and this is a good thing. I think out of the recent pieces the Symphonia is the one to check out. I'm really not an expert on Carter, but I think that his recent pieces (especially the orchestral pieces) are the place to start.
posted by ob at 3:35 PM on December 10, 2008

Someone quick go add him to Wikipedia's list of famous centenarians.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:36 PM on December 10, 2008

The Music of Elliot Carter: first edition came out in 1983, around the time I was taking a music theory course (3 students in the class!) from David Schiff, a pretty jovial composer himself. This version was updated and revised 10 years ago, so it is relatively recent.
posted by Araucaria at 3:57 PM on December 10, 2008

IIRC, it was Gore Vidal writing in Palimpsest who said that outliving one's enemies was one of the few things to be said in favor of great longevity.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2008

Twenty years ago, in the time before the Blue, music scribes paid tribute to Carter's 80th birthday. What's so great about Carter is he was just hitting his stride at 80 and some of his best work was yet to come. While I admit I don't listen to Carter at home, I love seeing/hearing his work in performance. His music seems to require presence, from both players and audience.

He's an inspiration in life and work. I hope to be reading 120th birthday tributes in 2028.
posted by grounded at 4:11 PM on December 10, 2008

I wrote a 10000 word undergraduate project in music analysis on his Four Lauds for Solo Violin. It's certainly an interesting set of works; I'm particularly fond of Statement and its Copland-homage-ness.

N.B. I did not use the term Copland-homage-ness in my project.
posted by Lotto at 4:19 PM on December 10, 2008

Thanks for this; Elliot Carter was one of the first composers to break through my hesitance about classical music, and showed me there was lots of joy to be had in the modern classical world. I think of him as sharp, angular and engaging. I'm far from an expert, but I think this Sonata for Cello and Piano performance (found via bodywithoutorgans' interview link) sounds great. It's a good intro to what I think of, anyway, as The Sound Of Elliot Carter (though I tend to prefer more spare, smaller group stuff in general).
posted by mediareport at 7:01 PM on December 10, 2008

I was lucky enough to meet Carter at a premier of an orchestra piece dedicated to his wife five years ago at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Amazing man, amazing music. All hail metric modulation.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:25 PM on December 10, 2008

Mediareport: That was only the 4th movement. In order, they are 1,2,3,4
posted by schyler523 at 8:51 PM on December 10, 2008

Also, my music appreciation course just glanced over him, my professor expressed dismay that our course wasn't split in to two courses...too much material for one semester.
posted by schyler523 at 9:04 PM on December 10, 2008

Awesome, schyler523. Thanks.
posted by mediareport at 5:07 AM on December 11, 2008

On Charlie Rose last night, with Barenboim and Levine.
posted by nax at 5:20 AM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

If anyone is still reading this, I see that Carter now has a myspace page which is a great place to listen to snippets before delving into full pieces...
posted by ob at 10:01 AM on December 12, 2008

And also, Carter on the front page of today's NY Times.

I'll stop now!
posted by ob at 1:09 PM on December 12, 2008

I really do not want to be that busy on my 100th birthday.
posted by nax at 6:45 AM on December 13, 2008

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