Donald Stark's Story

RIP Elliott Carter, Maestro of Thorny Complexity

November 08, 2012

“When’re you going to slow down, Donald?”
And I’d reply, “Look at Elliott Carter.  Old enough to be my grandfather.”
I can no longer say that.  I just learned, after eight dark days in Hurricane Sandy’s wake, that he’d passed away a month shy of 104. 
I think of Carter’s music as a rowdy Thanksgiving conversation — every guest’s quirky personality on flamboyant display, everyone talking over each other, interrupting, arguing, storytelling.  There’s eloquent Aunt Flo exaggerating some event that befell her on some cruise.  There’s monotonous Mildred always trying to get 70 words in edgewise.  There’s stentorian Uncle Stan, all wise saws and modern instances.  There’s tipsy Poppop, bobbing and weaving, losing track of his stream of semiconsciousness.  Can the center hold?  Things get out of hand, cool down, then heat up…
This music is not for the faint of heart, but it’ll sure clean the cobwebs out of your ears.
Elliott Cater, national treasure.

Categories:   Composers

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