Remembering Elliott Carter: 1908-2012
Even though Elliott Carter was 103 when he died, on November 5, his death seemed to catch many off guard. The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and former Juilliard faculty member had been a major voice in American music for such a long time that, as one Facebook post said, “we thought he’d live forever.” In the New York Times obituary, Allan Kozinn wrote that Carter’s “kaleidoscopic, rigorously organized works established him as one of the most important and enduring voices in contemporary music.”
Born in Manhattan on December 11, 1908, Carter was a major presence at Juilliard before, while, and after he taught here (he was on the composition faculty from 1966 to 1984). Many of his important works were first heard at Juilliard. The 2008 Focus! festival, All About Elliott, celebrated his centennial year. And last year, the day after Carter turned 103, Axiom gave his song cycle Three Explorations its world premiere. Carter was actively composing up to the time of his death; the Seattle Symphony will premiere one of his final pieces in February. The Journal asked several Juilliard community members who knew Carter to share their memories of the man who enriched the American musical landscape in so many extraordinary ways.