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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Browse 1-25 of 186 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Golden Era of Living Stereo: Remastered Collector's Edition
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 532174 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Pietro Nardini,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Stuart Sankey,  Ania Dorfmann,  Leonid Kogan,  Andrei Mitnik  ... 
    Conductor:  Howard Mitchell,  Arthur Fiedler,  Arturo Basile,  Robert Shaw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Festival Quartet,  Portland Symphonic Choir,  Choir Of The Abbey Of Mount Angel  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
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  • 2.
    Sonata-Song / Milisavljevic
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3519 Release Date: 07/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Krzysztof Penderecki,  Elliott Carter,  John Harbison  ... 
    Performer:  Milan Milisavljević
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  • 3.
    A Place Toward Other Places / Hawkins, Weiss, Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble
    Label: Oberlin Music   Catalog: 13 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  William Albright,  Aaron Helgeson
    Performer:  Richard Hawkins
    Conductor:  Timothy Weiss
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble
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  • 4.
    Hypersuite 2: Music for Solo Cello / Adkins
    Label: Oberlin Music   Catalog: 13 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Elliott Carter,  Osvaldo Golijov,  Arne Nordheim  ... 
    Performer:  Darrett Adkins
    CD: $14.99
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  • 5.
    Maximum, Minimum, Modern / Cho
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1617 Release Date: 03/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Corigliano,  Michael Ippolito,  John Adams,  Lowell Liebermann  ... 
    Performer:  Sung-Soo Cho
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 6.
    Mikka and Other Assorted Love Songs / Eric Rynes
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1614 Release Date: 02/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Elliott Carter,  Kotoka Suzuki,  Giacinto Scelsi  ... 
    Performer:  Eric Rynes
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  • 7.
    American Works for Cello and Piano
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10881 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Leonard Bernstein,  Elliott Carter,  George Crumb  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Watkins,  Huw Watkins
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  • 8.
    Cadenza!: Modern American Duos for Clarinet or Basset Horn & Piano
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1598 Release Date: 11/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Elliott Carter,  Arthur Berger,  John McDonald  ... 
    Performer:  Ray Jackendoff,  John McDonald
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  • 9.
    Pictures / Tao
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552763 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Conrad Tao,  Elliott Carter,  Toru Takemitsu  ... 
    Performer:  Conrad Tao
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  • 10.
    Musica Viva 20: Elliot Carter, Charles Ives
    Label: Neos   Catalog: 11420 Release Date: 08/21/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Charles Ives
    Conductor:  Emilio Pomŕrico,  Stefan Asbury
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Orbit: Music for Solo Cello (1945-2014) / Haimovitz
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186542 Release Date: 08/14/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Philip Glass,  David Sanford,  Osvaldo Golijov,  Luciano Berio  ... 
    Performer:  Matt Haimovitz
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  • 12.
    Paradiso E Inferno
    Label: Mg Music   Catalog: 640849 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Folke Rabe,  Franz Schubert,  Iannis Xenakis,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Francois Killian,  Matthew Gee
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  • 13.
    Soli / Tamsin Waley-cohen
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 416 Release Date: 06/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  George Benjamin,  Krzysztof Penderecki,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Tamsin Waley-Cohen
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  • 14.
    Schumann: Kreisleriana; Carter: Night Fantasies; Stravinsky: Trois Mouvements de Petroushka / Huebner
    Label: New Focus   Catalog: 159 Release Date: 04/14/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Elliott Carter,  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Eric Huebner
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  • 15.
    Pierre Boulez: The Complete Erato Recordings
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 2564619048 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  Igor Stravinsky,  Pierre Boulez,  Luciano Berio  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre Amoyal,  Peter Serkin,  Simon Estes,  Ann Murray  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ensemble InterContemporain,  BBC Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $84.49
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  • 16.
    Distance / James Austin Smith
    Label: Twopianists (Label)   Catalog: 1039183 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Hindemith,  Peteris Vasks,  Elliott Carter,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  James Austin Smith,  Bridget Kibbey,  Luis Magalhaes
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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    New Music For Double Bass And Oboe
    Label: Phil.harmonie   Catalog: 6032 Release Date: 10/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heinz Holliger,  Roland Moser,  Elliott Carter,  Alexander Jemnitz  ... 
    Performer:  Edicson Ruiz,  Heinz Holliger
    CD: $21.49
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  • 19.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
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    CD: $138.49
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  • 20.
    Nataraja
    Label: New Focus   Catalog: 154 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jonathan Harvey,  Josh Levine,  Christopher Dietz,  C.R. Kasprzyk  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Rosenkranz,  Conor Nelson
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  • 21.
    American Chamber Music / Ehnes, Seattle CMS
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4129 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Charles Ives,  Leonard Bernstein,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Orion Weiss,  James Ehnes,  Amy Schwartz Moretti,  Ricardo Morales  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    The Complete Nashville Symphony Recordings / Schermerhorn
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 501108 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Heitor Villa-Lobos,  Morton Gould,  Elliott Carter,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  José Feghali,  Rosana Lamosa,  Mark Wait,  Lori Phillips  ... 
    Conductor:  Kenneth Schermerhorn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nashville Symphony Orchestra,  Nashville Symphony Chorus
    On sale! $99.99
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  • 24.
    Ives: Symphony No 2; Carter: Instances; Gershwin: An American In Paris / Morlot
    Label: Seattle Symphony   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
    Recommendation
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  • 25.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $22.98
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