Elliott Carter (1908-2012)


Dec 11 2011 - 12:00am

Elliott Cook Carter, Jr. celebrated his 103rd birthday December 11, 2011.*

Some of America's most distiguished composers of the twentieth century are among ACA's earliest members, including Elliott Carter. Before he was signed to a contract by a commercial publisher,  the bulk of his works were managed and distributed by ACA for about 25 yerars from the time he signed his ACA agreement in 1944. Carter also served on the Board of Governors for ACA, and as the Treasurer for its executive committee, and continued to serve in these capacities in support of the Alliance off and on for many years.

photo by Roberta Hershensonphoto by Roberta HershensonDuring the earlier years of his career, Carter split his time between composing and writing music criticism for various publications.

An excerpt of his article on fellow ACA composer Wallingford Riegger from the February 1952 issue of the ACA Bulletin reveals his thoughtful, steadfast support for a colleague:

While Riegger has been quietly composing music, a host of aggressive, younger composers has appeared, most them more impatient than he to gain acclaim, or more cynical the he about the public's ability to recognize the good from the bad, or perhaps less sure than he that their music was of a quality that would eventually be noticed... However, a number of still younger musicians, feeling the need for a change from points of view prevalent in the 1930's and '40's have recently found him out, and begun to take his music with the seriousness it deserves. So whatever success Riegger has had (and it is growing rapidly) has been purely on the basis of his music. - Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter has been the recipient of the highest honors a composer can receive: the Gold Medal for Music awarded by the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the National Medal of Arts, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and honorary degrees from many universities. Hailed by Aaron Copland as "one of America's most distinguished creative artists in any field," Carter has received two Pulitzer Prizes and commissions from many prestigious organizations.

We wish continued good health to this uncommonly gifted and treasured musical voice and advocate for American music.

*Update - Elliott Carter passed away in New York City on Nov. 5, 2012.