Personalities | Elliott Carter | Contemporary | Classical

American composer

An early relationship with Charles Ives (1874–1954) and a period of study with Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979) led to a synthesis of European modernism and American ultra-modernism, which can be heard in the String Quartet No. 1 (1950–51). By the second quartet (1959), Carter was following an entirely different style: the four string players are instructed to sit as far apart as possible so they appear to be playing different works. This middle period is characterized by Carter’s increased development of polyrhythm (several rhythms performed at the same time) and tempo modulation (an evolutionary change of speed). Carter composed more rapidly and prolifically in later years, producing during the 1990s a number of short pieces for solo and small chamber groups, while also building up the three movements of what would become his largest orchestral canvas, the Symphonia (1993–96). He continued fulfilling commissions until his death, making him without doubt the first composer active beyond the age of 100.

Recommended Recording:
Concerto for Orchestra, Violin Concerto, Three Occasions, Ole Böhn, London Sinfonietta (cond) Oliver Knussen (EMI/Warner)

Introduction | Contemporary | Classical
Personalities | George Crumb | Contemporary | Classical


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