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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Remembering Avant-Garde Composer Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter reviews his composition, "Horn Concerto" with Boston Symphony Orchestra principal horn player James Sommerville during a rehearsal at Symphony Hall Boston. (Michael Lutch/H&N listener)

Elliott Carter reviews his composition, “Horn Concerto” with Boston Symphony Orchestra principal horn player James Sommerville during a rehearsal at Symphony Hall Boston. (Michael Lutch/H&N listener)

Composer Elliott Carter died Monday at the age of 103. During his lifetime he won numerous awards including two Pulitzer Prizes, but Harvard music professor Tom Kelly says he wasn’t always destined for greatness.

“His music to some people seemed almost impossible to play and impossible to listen to in his early years,” Kelly told Here & Now’s Robin Young.

But Kelly adds, some of Carter’s works have become classics.

Boston Globe classical music critic Jeremy Eichler adds that even though he was over 100-years-old, Carter’s death was still surprising, because he was so vibrant.

“He was so present and so very much with the classical music world,” Eichler said. “He was not only attending performances of his works but he was writing new ones at a speed that just mystified everyone, even his champions.”

We remember the composer and revisit a celebration of his 100 birthday.

Guests:

  • Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe classical music critic
  • Tom Kelly, Harvard Music professor

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Mary

    Yes, this man is quite elderly, but. ,…….            If the samples played in this section is at all representative, then I won’t be buying them.   Some people deem it unplayble, but I would deem most of them unlistenable. There seemed to be no melody line. Ick!
    No wonder classical music is in the state it’s in with orhcestras going under.  For me, the gold standard of any piece of music, is does it have a melody line that you can put on a piano??If not then forget it. (Rap fails in that respect.) 

    • Wolfgang

      It’s wonderful that you’ve expressed your opinion–it’s cute–but the state of  ‘classical music’ and the orchestra isn’t attributed to Elliot Carter’s work. You should really take some time and research orchestras, what they play, and how they operate as a business; you’ll find out some surprising facts. 

  • Marjoriewertz41

    Thank you for sharing some of his pieces, illustrating his development.  His later works challenge the listener to think and engage intellectually; I am reminded of Avo Paart.
    Do you have the reference to the dissertation that was presented to the audience in Paris four years ago?

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