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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 76-100 of 180 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    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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  • 77.
    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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  • 78.
    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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  • 79.
    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,  Karl Daymond  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  Birmingham Contemporary Music Group,  London Sinfonietta  ... 
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  • 80.
    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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  • 81.
    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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  • 82.
    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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  • 83.
    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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  • 84.
    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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  • 85.
    Elliott Carter - A Labyrinth Of Time
    Label: Juxtapositions   Catalog: 17 Release Date: 09/26/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
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  • 86.
    Sound Vessels - Carter, Helps, Etc / Kluksdahl, Et Al
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2765 Release Date: 06/27/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Richard Wernick,  Robert Helps,  Augusta Read Thomas
    Performer:  Noreen Cassidy-Polera,  Scott Kluksdahl
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  • 87.
    Music Of Elliott Carter Vol 7 / Knussen, Hodges
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9184 Release Date: 12/27/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Nicolas Hodges,  Fred Sherry
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta,  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  ASKO Ensemble
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  • 88.
    Music Of Elliott Carter Vol 6 / Rolf Schulte, Donald Palma
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9177 Release Date: 10/25/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Rolf Schulte
    Conductor:  Justin Brown,  Donald Palma
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Odense Symphony Orchestra
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  • 89.
    Leaving Home - Music In The 20th Century 5 - The American Way
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 102041 Release Date: 10/18/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill,  Aaron Copland,  John Adams,  Terry Riley  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
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  • 90.
    Berg, Carter, Schuman / Juilliard String Quartet
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1374 Release Date: 10/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Schuman,  Elliott Carter,  Alban Berg
    Performer:  Robert Mann,  Isidore Cohen,  Raphael Hillyer,  Claus Adam
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
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  • 91.
    James Levine - Documents Of The Munich Years
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 509 Release Date: 08/01/2005   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Charles Ives,  John Harbison  ... 
    Performer:  Ben Heppner,  James Morris,  Linda Watson,  Birgitta Svendén  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra,  Munich Philharmonic Choir,  Bamberg Symphony Chorus
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  • 92.
    Ravel: Gaspard De La Nuit;  Carter / Aimard
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 62160 Release Date: 06/21/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard
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  • 93.
    The Story Of American Classical Music / Scherer, Et Al
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8558164-65 Release Date: 06/21/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Adams,  Philip Glass,  George Rochberg,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Adele Anthony,  Peter Skaerved,  Mark Wait,  Mike Eldred  ... 
    Conductor:  Marin Alsop,  Takuo Yuasa,  Christopher Lyndon-Gee,  Kenneth Schermerhorn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Sinfonietta Orchestra,  Ulster Orchestra,  Saarbrucken Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 94.
    Carter: Piano Concerto, Concerto For Orchestra, 3 Occasions / Oppens, Gielen
    Label: Arte Nova   Catalog: 277730 Release Date: 06/14/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Ursula Oppens
    Conductor:  Michael Gielen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 95.
    James Levine - The Munich Years Vol 2 - Carter, Et Al
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 502 Release Date: 12/14/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Di Domenica,  Roger Sessions,  Charles Wuorinen,  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Robert Taub
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 96.
    Finnegan's Wake / Wolfgang David
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 680 Release Date: 09/28/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Elliott Carter,  Ching-Chu Hu,  Jeremy Dale Roberts  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang David,  David Gompper
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  • 97.
    American Piano Music Of The 1940s / Sara Laimon
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 685 Release Date: 08/31/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner,  Carl Ruggles,  Leonard Bernstein,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Sara Laimon
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  • 98.
    New Music With Guitar Vol 6 / David Starobin, Et Al
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9144 Release Date: 04/27/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Melinda Wagner,  Elliott Carter,  Paul Lansky,  Gunther Schuller  ... 
    Performer:  David Starobin,  George Crumb
    Conductor:  William Purvis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Speculum Musicae
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  • 99.
    American Classics - Carter: Symphony No 1, Etc / Wait, Et Al
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559151 Release Date: 03/16/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Mark Wait
    Conductor:  Kenneth Schermerhorn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nashville Symphony Orchestra
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  • 100.
    Label: London Sinfonietta   Catalog: 12004 Release Date: 03/01/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Andriessen,  Charles Wuorinen,  Alexander Goehr,  Detlev Glanert  ... 
    Performer:  Bruce Nockles,  Nicolas Hodges,  Rolf Hind,  Paul Silverthorne  ... 
    Conductor:  George Benjamin
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