Carter, Elliott

▪ American composer
in full  Elliot Cook Carter, Jr. 
born Dec. 11, 1908, New York, N.Y., U.S.
 American composer, a musical innovator whose erudite style and novel principles of polyrhythm, called metric modulation, won worldwide attention. He was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music, in 1960 and 1973.

      Born of a wealthy family, Carter was educated at Harvard University (1926–32), where he first majored in English and later studied music with Walter Piston (Piston, Walter) and Gustav Holst (Holst, Gustav). His interest in music dated from his teens and was fostered by the composer Charles Ives (Ives, Charles), who was Carter's neighbour in 1924–25.

      Carter began composing seriously in 1933, while studying in Paris with Nadia Boulanger (Boulanger, Nadia). His early works displayed an original diatonic style that was strongly influenced by the rhythmic and melodic patterns of Greek music and prose. Among his early works were choral and instrumental pieces and a ballet. His Symphony No. 1 dates from 1942, as does an especially representative work of this period, The Defense of Corinth, for narrator, men's chorus, and two pianos.

      His Piano Sonata (1945–46) marked a turning point in Carter's stylistic development; in it he used a complex texture of irregularly cross-accented counterpoint within a large-scale framework. In the Cello Sonata (1948) the principles of metric modulation were well established. In a 2002 radio interview, Carter said, “Everybody hated it. I couldn't get it published. Now it's taught in most universities and it's played all the time.” The composer's innovative rhythmic technique culminated in his String Quartet No. 1 (1951), characterized by the densely woven counterpoint that became a hallmark of his style. Both that quartet and the String Quartet No. 2 (1959; Pulitzer Prize, 1960) became part of the standard repertory. The Variations for Orchestra (1954–55) marked another phase of Carter's development, leading to a serial approach to intervals and dynamics. The Double Concerto for harpsichord, piano, and two chamber orchestras (1961), which won rare praise from Igor Stravinsky (Stravinsky, Igor), displayed Carter's interest in unusual instrumentation and canonic texture (based on melodic imitation). The conflict generated between the two orchestral groups and the great difficulty of the concerto were mirrored in his Piano Concerto (1964–65). Carter's Concerto for Orchestra was first performed in 1970 and the String Quartet No. 3, for which he won a second Pulitzer Prize, in 1973.

      The 1980s began a major creative period for Carter. Some of his more frequently performed works from that and subsequent decades include the Oboe Concerto (1987); Violin Concerto (1990), a recording of which won the 1993 Grammy Award for best contemporary composition; String Quartet No.5 (1995); the playful Clarinet Concerto (1996); the ambitious Symphonia: Sum Fluxae Pretium Spei (1993–96; “I Am the Prize of Flowing Hope”); an opera, What Next? (1999), about six characters in the aftermath of a car accident; the Cello Concerto (2001), first performed by Yo-Yo Ma; and a continuing string of commissions into the composer's late 90s. Major orchestras and other performers around the world increasingly played his music, and he became one of the few contemporary composers whose works entered the standard repertoire.

      Carter was the first composer to receive the U.S. National Medal of Arts (1985); the governments of France, Germany, Italy, and Monaco also awarded him high honours. He became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Referring to the “wit and humour…anger…lyricism and beauty” found throughout Carter's works, the critic Andrew Porter labeled the composer “America's great musical poet.”

      Carter's writings, edited by Jonathan W. Bernard, appear in Elliott Carter: Collected Essays and Lectures, 1937–1995 (1997).

Additional Reading
David Schiff, The Music of Elliott Carter, 2nd ed. (1998).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Carter, Elliott (Cook, Jr.) — born Dec. 11, 1908, New York, N.Y., U.S. U.S. composer. Born to a wealthy family, he studied English and music at Harvard University and later studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. He taught at many institutions, after 1972 primarily at the… …   Universalium

  • Carter, Elliott (Cook, Jr.) — (n. 11 dic. 1908, Nueva York, N.Y., EE.UU.). Compositor estadounidense. Nacido en el seno de una familia acomodada, estudió música e inglés en la Universidad de Harvard y después fue discípulo de Nadia Boulanger, en París. Fue docente en varias… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Elliott Carter — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Elliott Carter Elliott Cook Carter, Jr. (11 de diciembre de 1908) es un compositor estadounidense de música culta. Carter nació en Nueva York. Fue animado cuando era un joven músico por Charles Ives y estudi …   Wikipedia Español

  • Elliott Carter — Portrait von Elliott Carter Elliott Cook Carter (* 11. Dezember 1908 in New York City) ist ein US amerikanischer Komponist. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Carter — /kahr teuhr/, n. 1. Bennett Lester (Benny), born 1907, U.S. jazz saxophonist and composer. 2. Don(ald James), born 1926, U.S. bowler. 3. Elliott (Cook, Jr.), born 1908, U.S. composer. 4. Hodding /hod ing/, 1907 72, U.S. journalist and publishe …   Universalium

  • Carter — (De J. H. Carter, nombre de su inventor.) ► sustantivo masculino 1 MECÁNICA Pieza que protege la cadena de transmisión en la bicicleta. 2 MECÁNICA Caja, generalmente metálica, que protege algunas piezas del motor. * * * cárter (de «J. H. Carter» …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • cárter — (De J. H. Carter, nombre de su inventor.) ► sustantivo masculino 1 MECÁNICA Pieza que protege la cadena de transmisión en la bicicleta. 2 MECÁNICA Caja, generalmente metálica, que protege algunas piezas del motor. * * * cárter (de «J. H. Carter» …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Elliott — /el ee euht, el yeuht/, n. 1. Herb(ert James), born 1938, Australian track and field athlete. 2. Also, Elliot. a male given name, form of Elias. * * * (as used in expressions) Robert Brackett Elliott Carter Elliott Cook Jr. Trudeau Pierre Elliott …   Universalium

  • Elliott Carter — Elliott Cook Carter, Jr. (born in New York City on December 11, 1908) is an American composer from New York City. He studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in the 1930s, and then returned to the United States. After a neoclassical phase, he went… …   Wikipedia

  • Elliott Carter — Naissance 11 décembre 1908 (1908 12 11) (102 ans) New York …   Wikipédia en Français

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