One of the 20th century’s most prolific composers, he showed no signs of slowing down in old age.
December 11, 1908 – November 5, 2012
Limelight‘s interview, one of the last Elliott Carter gave this year.
The doyen of American composers, Elliott Carter, has died of natural causes at his home in New York, according to his assistant Virgil Blackwell. Just a month shy of his 104 thbirthday, Carter was still composing prolifically until the end. His most productive period, a flourishing in his late eighties, saw the pinnacle of his style – a blend of intricate American “ultra-modernism” and a European aesthetic – in mercurial music of searing intensity.
Carter was born into a wealthy New York family but spent much of his early childhood in Europe, learning to speak French before he could read English. As a teenager, the American premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Springmade a lasting impression; he recalls meeting the French composer Edgar Varèse at a speakeasy during the prohibition; and Charles Ives became a friend and mentor.
Unsatisfied with the rigour of Harvard’s music program, Carter went to Paris to study with the formidable Nadia Boulanger for three years in the early 1930s. There,...