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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Carter: The Five String Quartets / Juilliard String Quartet
Release Date: 03/18/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 303383   Number of Discs: 2
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Ives: Symphony No 2; Carter: Instances; Gershwin: An American In Paris / Morlot
Release Date: 04/29/2014   Label: Seattle Symphony Orchestra  
Catalog: 1003   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 51-75 of 175 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Pierre-Laurent Aimard - Not Just One Truth
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2055798 Release Date: 08/25/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Benjamin,  Elliott Carter,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard
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  • 52.
    100 Best 20th Century Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64249 Release Date: 07/28/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  György Ligeti,  John Adams,  George Gershwin,  Aaron Copland  ... 
    Performer:  Wayne Marshall,  Ralph Kirshbaum,  Tasmin Little,  Simon Haram  ... 
    Conductor:  None,  Simon Rattle,  Leonard Slatkin,  Christopher Warren-Green  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Artemis String Quartet,  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 53.
    Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2057338 Release Date: 06/30/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Paul Hindemith,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Barenboim,  Kirill Gerstein,  Elena Bashkirova,  Frans Helmerson  ... 
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  • 54.
    Pleasure Is The Law
    Label: Boston Records   Catalog: 1074 Release Date: 06/09/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Ilja Hurník,  Hector Berlioz,  Kelsey Jones  ... 
    Performer:  Nadine Asin,  Darrett Adkins,  Elaine Douvas,  Steven Beck  ... 
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  • 55.
    The Pierre-laurent Aimard Collection
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 4691492 Release Date: 05/04/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Olivier Messiaen,  Claude Debussy,  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt  ... 
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  • 56.
    American Piano Sonatas / Peter Seivewright
    Label: Divine Art   Catalog: 25052 Release Date: 04/14/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Miklós Rózsa,  Elliott Carter,  Edward MacDowell
    Performer:  Peter Seivewright
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  • 57.
    David Starobin - Favorite Tracks Vol 2 - 20th Century Classics
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9292 Release Date: 04/14/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mario Lavista,  Elliott Carter,  Michael Starobin,  Humphrey Searle  ... 
    Performer:  David Starobin,  Susan Jolles,  Peter Press,  Patrick Mason  ... 
    Conductor:  David Starobin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Speculum Musicae
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  • 58.
    Schein Plays Carter, Copland & Patitucci
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1321 Release Date: 04/14/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Elliott Carter,  John Patitucci
    Performer:  Earl Carlyss,  Ann Schein
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  • 59.
    Carter: String Quartets 2, 3 And 4 / Pacifica Quartet
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559363 Release Date: 02/24/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Masumi Per Rostad,  Simin Ganatra,  Sibbi Bernhardssohn,  Brandon Vamos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
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  • 60.
    Elliott Carter - A Nonesuch Restrospective
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 510893 Release Date: 02/24/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Paul Jacobs,  Joel Krosnick,  Harvey Sollberger,  Jan DeGaetani
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Chamber Symphony,  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
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  • 61.
    American Cello Masterpieces / Prochazka, Lemelin
    Label: Atma Classique   Catalog: 1004 Release Date: 01/01/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Samuel Barber,  Elliott Carter,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Stéphane Lemelin,  Tanya Prochazka
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  • 62.
    Happy Birthday - Elliot Carter! - Swiss Chamber Soloists Edition Vol 2
    Label: Neos   Catalog: 10816 Release Date: 12/09/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Ursula Holliger,  Felix Renggli,  Carolin Widmann,  Edicson Ruiz  ... 
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  • 63.
    American Classics - American Piano Sonatas Vol 1 / Peter Lawson
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 34465 Release Date: 11/24/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Ives,  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland,  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Peter Lawson
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  • 64.
    Elliott Carter 100th Anniversary Release - Mosaic, Dialogues
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559614 Release Date: 11/18/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Peter Pavlovsky,  Max Christie,  Virgina Barron,  Douglas Stewart  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Aitken
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Music Concerts Ensemble
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  • 65.
    Carter: Chamber Music - Figments And Fragments, Etc / Martens, Rensvik
    Label: Two-l   Catalog: 54 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Kjelsaas Kwetzinsky,  Johannes Martens,  Tom Ottar Andreassen,  Andjei Maevski  ... 
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  • 66.
    The Edition - Boulez, Carter, Glass, Messiaen, Pärt
    Label: Juxtapositions   Catalog: 3078398 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Philip Glass,  Elliott Carter,  Pierre Boulez,  Arvo Pärt
    Performer:  Philip Glass,  Patricia Rozario
    Conductor:  Alan Johnson,  Pierre Boulez,  Ed Spanjaard,  Myung-Whun Chung
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  Nieuw Ensemble,  Voices of Europe
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  • 67.
    American In Rome - Beaser, Barber, Thompson, Etc / Six For Five Wind Quintet
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9271 Release Date: 10/14/2008   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Roger Sessions,  Scott Lindroth,  Vittorio Giannini  ... 
    Performer:  Tony Arnold,  Susan Narucki,  Christopher Trakas,  Donald Berman  ... 
    Conductor:  Scott Yoo,  Jeffrey Milarsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Colorado College Festival Orchestra,  Chamber Ensemble
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  • 68.
    Oppens Plays Carter - The Complete Piano Music
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 108 Release Date: 10/14/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Ursula Oppens
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  • 69.
    Odd Couple / Matt Haimovitz, Geoffrey Burleson
    Label: Oxingale Records   Catalog: 2015 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Augusta Read Thomas,  Elliott Carter,  Samuel Barber,  David Sanford
    Performer:  Matt Haimovitz,  Geoffrey Burleson
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  • 70.
    Simon Rattle Edition - American Music
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 15014 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  John Adams,  George Gershwin,  Elliott Carter,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Performer:  Wesley Warren,  Jonathan Holland,  Wayne Marshall,  Simone Sauphanor  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  Birmingham Contemporary Music Group,  London Sinfonietta  ... 
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  • 71.
    Carter: Violin Concerto, Concerto For Orchestra / Ole Böhn, Oliver Knussen
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6629 Release Date: 06/24/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Ole Böhn
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
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  • 72.
    Edition Klavier-festival Ruhr - Mozart, Variationen & Neue Klaviermusik
    Label: Cavi Music   Catalog: 8553067 Release Date: 04/08/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Krzysztof Meyer,  John Harbison,  John Dowland  ... 
    Performer:  Various,  Peter Serkin,  Lars Vogt,  Robert Levin  ... 
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  • 73.
    American Classics - Carter: String Quartets No 1 And 5
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559362 Release Date: 01/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
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  • 74.
    Cage, Carter, Babbitt, Schuller / Levine, Chicago SO
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 431698 Release Date: 08/29/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Gunther Schuller,  Milton Babbitt,  John Cage
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 75.
    Changes Chances - Cage, Carter, Riley / Elena Casoli
    Label: Stradivarius   Catalog: 33718 Release Date: 03/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Terry Riley,  Elliott Carter,  John Cage
    Performer:  Elena Càsoli
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