Elliott Carter: A Lifetime of Achievement

By Ruby Cemental

Elliott Carter is recognized as one of the most influential artists of all time in the field of classical music. An innovative and inspired artist, his career spanned more than 75 years and produced more than 150 pieces of work. He was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1960 and 1973, for his works String Quartet #2 and String Quartet #3, respectively.

Early Life

A native New Yorker, Elliott Carter began his career under the encouragement of his mentor, Charles Ives, who was the founding father of American musical modernism. Ives recommend Carter for Harvard University, and Carter was accepted to the competitive school.

Elliot Carter graduated in music at Harvard University and then moved to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger, a French composer and conductor who taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the time. After his time in Paris, Carter returned to the United States, holding teaching positions at many renowned institutions, including Yale University and the Juilliard School of Music.

Musical Career

Carter was the musical director for the Lincoln Kirstein Ballet Caravan and composed his own works. Carter's early musical compositions were written in a neoclassical style. But after World War II, he developed his own musical style that boasted resonance and rhythm.

Interestingly, Carter produced many compositions based on literary works by acclaimed poets, including T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost. The work of these and other poets inspired various pieces, including Three Explorations, a 2011 work based on T.S. Eliot's later poems and parts of his Four Quartets.

Although many seniors retire in their 60s, Carter kept working and even hit his stride later in life. By 1990, Carter was recognized in America as the most revered living composer. Carter continued to work until his death in November 2012, composing more than 60 works after the age of 90! In addition to his incredible talent, he is much to be admired for his tenacity and dedication to his life's work.

Never allowing age or infirmity to stand in the way of his ability to create, he continued to explore his particular genius until the end of his life. His final work, Epigrams (2012), premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2013.

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Tags: Golden Inspirations

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