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Elliott Carter

Biography

Born: December 11, 1908; USA   Died: November 5, 2012; New York, NY  
One of the most significant post-World War II American composers, Elliott Carter was a forceful and eloquent voice into his tenth decade. From an early, quasi-neo-Classical style, Carter forged his own complex, dramatically oriented adaptation of serial methods.

His initial education was at the Horace Mann School and at Harvard, where he obtained a B.A. in English, in 1930; two years later, he got his M.A. in Music, after studies
Read more with Walter Piston and Gustav Holst. He also received early encouragement from Charles Ives. From Harvard, he went to Paris, studying at the Ecole Normale de Musique and taking private lessons with Nadia Boulanger. Carter had an interest in modern music almost from the beginning (in fact, he once said that he took his degrees at Harvard so he could be near the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which under Serge Koussevitzky's direction was performing a broad range of contemporary compositions at the time). But he also sang in a madrigal group and conducted choral concerts in Paris, and has pursued interests in mathematics, literature, and languages.

After his return to the U.S., he served as the musical director of the Ballet Caravan from 1937 to 1939. From 1940 on, Carter has held an impressive variety of teaching posts at, among others, St. John's College, Annapolis (1940-1942); the Peabody Conservatory (1946-1948); Columbia University (1948-1950); Queen's College, New York (1955-1956); Yale University (1960-1962); the American Academy in Rome (1963 and 1967); and the Juilliard School (1972). Carter has also been the recipient of many honors and awards, including honorary doctorates from almost a dozen universities, many foundation grants, a Prix de Rome, two Guggenheim fellowships, and Pulitzer Prizes for his second (1960) and third (1973) string quartets.

His ballet Pocahontas, written for the Ballet Caravan, and the Holiday Overture (1944) are representative of Carter's early style, a fusion of Igor Stravinsky's neo-Classicism and the American populism of Aaron Copland. In the mid-'40s, however, Carter decided that the style he had employed to that point avoided some important modes of expression. Subsequent works, such as the 1946 Piano Sonata and the 1948 Cello Sonata, employ more dissonance and rhythmic complexity. Carter developed his notion of "metrical modulation," in which one tempo leads gradually to another through changing the note values in different voices of the ensemble. One starts to hear this process in the String Quartet No. 1 (1951), and colorful works like the Variations for Orchestra (1954-1955), the Double Concerto (1961) and the Quartet No. 2 develop those ideas further. Carter also occasionally develops dramatic scenarios for his compositions. The Quartet No. 3, for example, pits two duos (violin/viola and violin/cello) against one another as they play in different tempos and rhythms; Claus Adam of the Juilliard Quartet, which premiered the work, called it the most difficult work the quartet had ever played.

Carter went on to write a total of five quartets, along with a variety of symphonic works, concertos, chamber and solo pieces and, in the late '70s and early '80s, a handful of vocal works. He continued to be productive late in his life: Carter's Symphonia: sum fluxae pretium spei (1993-1996), which he completed at the age of 88, was received with great enthusiasm. Carter astounded the music world by creating his first opera, What Next? (1998), at the age of 90.
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American Classics - Carter: String Quartets No 1 And 5
Release Date: 01/29/2008   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559362   Number of Discs: 1
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Carter: String Quartets 2, 3 And 4 / Pacifica Quartet
Release Date: 02/24/2009   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559363   Number of Discs: 1
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Carter: Complete String Quartets [3 CDs & 1 DVD]
Release Date: 01/26/2010   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8503226   Number of Discs: 4
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American Classics - Carter: Symphony No 1, Etc / Wait, Et Al
Release Date: 03/16/2004   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559151   Number of Discs: 1
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Elliott Carter 100th Anniversary Release - Mosaic, Dialogues
Release Date: 11/18/2008   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559614   Number of Discs: 2
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Browse 1-25 of 180 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Charles Rosen - The Complete Columbia and Epic Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301476 Release Date: 12/02/2014   Number of Discs: 21
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Charles Rosen,  Paul Jacobs,  Robert Casadesus,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Conductor:  Frederik Prausnitz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Pierre Boulez - The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301333 Release Date: 11/24/2014   Number of Discs: 67
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Alexander Scriabin,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Alban Berg  ... 
    Performer:  Karl Dönch,  Isabel Strauss,  Walter Berry,  Fritz Uhl  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Anton Webern
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers,  Schola Cantorum New York  ... 
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  • 3.
    Leonard Bernstein Edition - Concertos & Orchestral Works
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301330 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 80
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Performer:  Isaac Stern,  Leonard Bernstein,  Harold Gomberg,  William Heim  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Seiji Ozawa,  Maurice Peress
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  New York Philharmonic members,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 4.
    American Chamber Music
    Label: Onyx (Classical Label)   Catalog: 4129 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Charles Ives,  Leonard Bernstein,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  James Ehnes,  Orion Weiss,  Ricardo Morales,  Amy Schwartz Moretti  ... 
    Conductor:  James Ehnes
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  • 5.
    Double Take: American Reed / Double Entendre
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1515 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Timothy Dwight Edwards,  Tina Nicholson,  John Steinmetz,  Judith Shatin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Double Entendre
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  • 6.
    Ives: Symphony No 2; Carter: Instances; Gershwin: An American In Paris / Morlot
    Label: Seattle Symphony Orchestra   Catalog: 1003 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Ives,  Elliott Carter,  George Gershwin
    Conductor:  Ludovic Morlot
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Differential Moods / Jeffrey Loeffert
    Label: Blue Griffin   Catalog: 303 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Marc Mellits,  Christian Lauba,  Elliott Carter,  Benjamin Fuhrman  ... 
    Performer:  Jeffrey Loeffert,  David Dees,  Kimberly Goddard Loeffert,  Johnny [Sax Soprano] Salinas  ... 
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  • 8.
    Elliot Carter: Four Lauds; Figment I; Figment Ii Remembering Mr. Ives; Tre Duetti
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3291 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Caroline Chin,  Brian Snow
    CD: $17.99
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  • 9.
    Legato - The World of Piano / Hamelin, Aimard...
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2059848 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Nikolai Medtner,  Dafydd Llywelyn,  Leopold Godowsky  ... 
    Performer:  Boris Berezovsky,  Roland Pöntinen,  Marc-André Hamelin,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard
    DVD: $58.99
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  • 10.
    Portrait
    Label: Cd Accord   Catalog: 182 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gordon Jacob,  Lubos Sluka,  Edison Denisov,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Katarzyna Zdybel,  Pawel [Double Bass] Jablczynski,  Katarzyna Kluczewska
    CD: $18.99
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  • 11.
    Carter: The Five String Quartets / Juilliard String Quartet
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 303383 Release Date: 03/18/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Samuel Rhodes,  Joel Smirnoff,  Robert Mann,  Joel Krosnick
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
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  • 12.
    Carter, Sessions, Eckardt / Miranda Cuckson
    Label: Urlicht   Catalog: 5989 Release Date: 03/04/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Roger Sessions,  Jason Eckardt
    Performer:  Miranda Cuckson,  Blair McMillen
    CD: $17.99
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  • 13.
    Elliott Carter - 103rd Birthday Concert
    Label: Nmc   Catalog: 193 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
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  • 14.
    Around The World / Emmanuel Pahud, Christian Rivet
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 15399 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ravi Shankar,  Christian Rivet,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Emmanuel Pahud,  Christian Rivet
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  • 15.
    Stopping By / Kyle Bielfield
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3445 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Amy Marcy Beach,  Samuel Barber,  Ned Rorem,  John Woods Duke  ... 
    Performer:  Kyle Bielfield,  Lachlan Glen,  Michael Samis
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  • 16.
    Elliott Carter: Symphonia
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001883902 Release Date: 08/20/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Michael Collins
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
    CD: $13.99
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  • 17.
    American Harp / Yolanda Kondonassis
    Label: Azica   Catalog: 71281 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John T. Williams,  Hannah Lash,  Lowell Liebermann,  Stephen Paulus  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
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  • 18.
    The Seasons / Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 2072 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Jacques Ibert,  Henri Tomasi,  Darius Milhaud,  Charles Koechlin  ... 
    Performer:  Andreas Wittman,  Walter Seyfarth,  Fergus McWilliam,  Henning Trog  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
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    CD: $44.49
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  • 19.
    Elliott Carter Edition, Vol. 9
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9396 Release Date: 05/14/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Tony Arnold,  Steven Beck,  David Starobin,  Rosalind Rees  ... 
    Conductor:  Scott Yoo,  Joel Smirnoff
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Colorado College Festival Orchestra,  Basel Sinfonietta,  Slowind Wind Quintet
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  • 20.
    Carter: Variations For Orchestra, Double Concerto, Piano Concerto / Jacobs, Rosen, Lateiner
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 49994 Release Date: 05/07/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Paul Jacobs,  Charles Rosen,  Jacob Lateiner
    Conductor:  Frederik Prausnitz,  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Adagio - Jose Serebrier
    Label: Alba   Catalog: 341 Release Date: 03/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Leevi Madetoja,  Clark McAlister,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Conductor:  José Serebrier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Michel Strings
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  • 22.
    Bartok: Improvisations On Hungarian Peasant Songs; Rosza: Sonate Fur Klavier; Carter: Piano Sonata
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9388 Release Date: 03/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Miklós Rózsa,  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Martin Perry
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  • 23.
    70th Birthday Concert / Daniel Barenboim
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001809309 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Elliott Carter,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 24.
    John Corigliano, Elliott Carter: American Clarinet Concertos
    Label: Aeon   Catalog: 1230 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Corigliano,  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Eddy Vanoosthuyse
    Conductor:  Paul Meyer
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  • 25.
    Viola Viola / Hsin-Yun Huang
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9387 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Steven Mackey,  Poul Ruders,  George Benjamin,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Hsin-Yun Huang,  Sarah Rothenberg,  Misha Amory
    Conductor:  Steven Mackey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Modern Ensemble,  Evergreen Symphony Orchestra,  Gernot Schmalfuss
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