Elliott Carter was 103 years old. His death was announced by his publishers, Boosey & Hawkes.
His music was ever civilised, a tad abstruse, dry as an autumn leaf.
I had one extended conversation with him, almost thirty years ago, in Peter Heyworth’s London flat. Young and brash, I asked who he thought he was writing for. ‘Anyone who cares to listen,’ he replied. But will they understand? I persisted.
He reflected on this for a moment. Then, with a withering smile, immaculately courteous, he said something about music always being way ahead of public taste. ‘You know, when I was growing up in Boston,’ he related, ‘ people used to say the Exit signs in Symphony Hall meant “this way in case of Brahms.”‘
May he rest in peace.
Here is an agency file obituary, citing his two Pulitzer prizes. My personal picks are the first string quartet and the double concerto. Here is a video clip of his final premiere, which took place last week.
Just in: his last filmed interview.