The great American composer Elliott Carter died Monday at age 103. He lived through cataclysmic changes in classical music (think about it: he was age 4 when “Le Sacre du Printemps” inspired a riot in Paris in 1913) and stayed true to a modernist idiom that demanded (and rewarded) attention. One highlight of my Boston time was getting to hear James Levine conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Carter works, including pieces commissioned for his 100th birthday. The reports don’t mention it, but I bet he was composing until the end of his life.
A wire service story has appeared on the NYTimes (busy night around there, I’m sure) and many tributes to follow, no doubt.
His “Enchanted Preludes” courtesy of YouTube.
From the Times piece:
As he turned 100, he recalled a visit to the hall in 1924 to see the New York premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s revolutionary work “The Rite of Spring.”
“I thought it was the greatest thing I ever heard, and I wanted to do like that, too,” Carter recalled. “Of course, half the audience walked out, which was even more pleasant to me. It seemed much more exciting than Beethoven and Brahms and the rest of them.”