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 176-182 of 182 Available Recordings
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  • 176.
    Carter: Piano Concerto, Variations For Orchestra
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80347 Release Date: 12/08/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Thomas LeGrand,  George Hambrecht,  Marna Street-Ramsey,  Barry Green  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Gielen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
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  • 177.
    Songs of America / Jan DeGaetani, Gilbert Kalish
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 79178 Release Date: 05/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Ives,  Aaron Copland,  William Bolcom,  Aaron Jay Kernis  ... 
    Performer:  Joyce Robbins,  Jan DeGaetani,  Gilbert Kalish
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  • 178.
    Carter: String Quartets 1 & 2 / Composers Quartet
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 71249 Release Date: 05/07/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Composers String Quartet
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  • 179.
    Carter: The Four String Quartets / Juilliard String Quartet
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 47229 Release Date: 09/26/1991   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Robert Mann,  Christopher Oldfather,  Joel Smirnoff,  Samuel Rhodes  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
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  • 180.
    Carter, Babbitt, Powell: String Quartets / Composers Quartet
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: CD606 Release Date: 12/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Milton Babbitt,  Mel Powell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Composers String Quartet
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  • 181.
    Carter: Emblems; McKinley, Sheng, Amlin / John Oliver Chorale
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: KIC 7178 Release Date: 01/24/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Bright Sheng,  Martin Amlin,  William Thomas McKinley
    Conductor:  John Oliver
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Oliver Chorale
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  • 182.
    Carter: To Music, Tarantella, Harvest Home / John Oliver Chorale
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: 7415 Release Date: 11/17/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Annette Anfinrud,  Frank Corliss,  Martin Amlin,  Alan Brody
    Conductor:  John Oliver
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Oliver Chorale,  Orchestra
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Elliott Carter


MOST POPULAR WORKS
I. ?
II. ?
I. -
II. -
I. Maestoso
I. Allegro scorrevole (from bar 356)
II. Allegro scorrevole
II. Adagio (from bar 57)
III. Variations
Introduction -
I. Allegro fantastico -
I. Cadenza for viola -
II. Presto scherzando -
II. Cadenza for cello -
III. Andante espressivo -
III. Cadenza for violin I -
IV. Allegro -
IV. Conclusion
I. Moderato
II. vivace, molto leggiero
III. Adagio
IV. Alllegro
WORKS
1. Drammatico
2. Allegro Appassionato
3. Giocoso
4. Lento
5. Maestoso
6. Tranquillo
7. Allegro Fantastico
Carter: Clarinet Concerto - Scherzando
Carter: Clarinet Concerto - Deciso
Carter: Clarinet Concerto - Tranquillo
Carter: Clarinet Concerto - Presto
Carter: Clarinet Concerto - Largo
Carter: Clarinet Concerto - Giocoso
Carter: Clarinet Concerto - Agitato
Concerto for Orchestra: Introduction (Misterioso)
Concerto for Orchestra: I. Allegro non troppo
Concerto for Orchestra: II. Presto volando
Concerto for Orchestra: III. Maestoso
Concerto for Orchestra: IV. Coda
Concerto for Orchestra: Coda (Allegro molto)
I. ?
II. ?
Violin Concerto: I. Impulsivo
Violin Concerto: II. Angosciato (violin)
Violin Concerto: III. Scherzando
I. -
II. -
I. Maestoso
II. Quietly
III. Adagio possibile
IV. Vivace
V. Andante
VI. Allegretto leggero
VII. Intensely
VIII. Presto
Fantasy: Tempo giusto
No. 1. Statement: Remembering Aaron
No. 2. Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi
No. 3. Rhapsodic Musings
No. 4. Fantasy: Remembering Roger
I. Maestoso
I. Allegro scorrevole (from bar 356)
II. Allegro scorrevole
II. Adagio (from bar 57)
III. Variations
Introduction -
I. Allegro fantastico -
I. Cadenza for viola -
II. Presto scherzando -
II. Cadenza for cello -
III. Andante espressivo -
III. Cadenza for violin I -
IV. Allegro -
IV. Conclusion
Duo II: Maestoso (giusto sempre) - Duo I: Furioso (quasi rubato sempre) -
Duo I: Giocoso (bar 90) - Duo II: Scorrevole (bar 106) -
Duo I: Leggerissimo (bar 136) - Duo II: Giusto, meccanico (bar 151) -
Duo I: Giocoso (bar 197) - Duo II: Maestoso (bar 219) -
Duo II: Largo tranquillo (bar 254) - Duo I: Leggerissimo (bar 277) -
Duo II: Scorrevole (bar 366) - Duo I: Andante espressivo (bar 380)
Appassionato -
Scherzando (stesso tempo) -
Lento (stesso tempo) -
Presto
Introduction
I. Giocoso
Interlude I
II. Lento espressivo
Interlude II
III. Presto scorrevole
Interlude III
IV. Allegro energico
Interlude IV
V. Adagio sereno
Interlude V
VI. Capriccioso
I. Allegretto
II. Allegro giocoso
I. Moderato
II. vivace, molto leggiero
III. Adagio
IV. Alllegro
I. Risoluto
II. Lento
III. Allegro
Carter: Symphonia: Sum Fluxae Pretium Spei - 1. Partita
Carter: Symphonia: Sum Fluxae Pretium Spei - 2. Adagio tenebroso
Carter: Symphonia: Sum Fluxae Pretium Spei - 3. Allegro scorrevole
I. Moderately, wistfully
II. Slowly, gravely
III. Vivaciously
Three Occasions for Orchestra: A Celebration of some 100 x 150 Notes
Three Occasions for Orchestra: Remembrance
Three Occasions for Orchestra: Anniversary