Considered by many to be America's greatest composer, Elliott Carter celebrates his th birthday this year, and will be honored at the NFA Convention in August. One of the joys of performing the music of today's composers is the opportunity to work on pieces directly with the composers. In the mids I sat with Elliott Carter and taped his replies to questions about his Scrivo in vento, his solo flute piece written in for the "wonderful flutist and friend, Robert Aitken. EC: Yes. There are certain harmonic chords that persist in my music.

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MusicWeb Internet. Last night, as if to psychologically compensate for the painfully frigid outside temperature, the entire back wall behind the stage had an inviting orange glow, as if the wall were a giant ceramic heater with a wrought-iron grate. That penchant for change could apply equally to Mr. Carter, who seems to change with every new work and writes with the energy of someone half his age. I had the good fortune to be positioned behind the superb Robert Ingliss so I could follow his oboe part, which he played with mesmerizing confidence alongside three members of the Arditti Quartet.

On one level, the piece is a highly exposed dialogue between the four instruments, each of which "tries out" phrases before they are combined later. The compelling result made one imagine friends engaged in discourse — now hesitant, now aggressive — that so often takes unexpected paths.

Eight brief homages to Mr. Carter — seven written for this occasion — were all successful. The Boulez miniature is a sprightly gem, skipping along with small gestures repeated by instruments echoing others. Throughout the evening, the excellent Sospeso musicians meshed beautifully with the Ardittis, in performances that consistently persuaded and astonished.

These probing, soaring songs were gracefully sung by Shelton, who seems to have an enormous reservoir of elegance and passion for contemporary scores.

Composer Rand Steiger, one of the most astute conductors around, led some of the short tributes as well as the final work with crisp authority, not to mention a bit of humor. It was a party, after all. It is amazing that so many people — composers, musicians and listeners — continue to find such inspiration in Mr. The composer, now using a walking stick but otherwise looking remarkably hale and fresh, stood grinning amid the cheers and applause, then offered a few words of thanks that were as elegantly understated as much of his music.

Bruce Hodges.


Regarding Scrivo in vento: a conversation with Elliott Carter

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More by Elliott Carter

Elliott Cook Carter Jr. He is one of the most respected composers of the second half of the 20th century, having combined elements of European modernism and American "ultra-modernism" into a distinctive style with a personal harmonic and rhythmic language, after an early neoclassical phase. Carter was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Born in New York , he had developed an interest in modern music in the s. Carter was productive in his later years, publishing more than 40 works between the ages of 90 and , [5] and over 20 more after he turned in Much of his childhood was spent in Europe ; he spoke French before learning English.

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