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Tag: Elliott Carter

Wednesday, December 30th

string quartet festival
day two

JACK Quartet (with Conrad Tao, piano), Library of Congress Virtual Event, 12/3/2020*

 

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lagniappe

random sights

yesterday, Oak Park, Ill.

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*Program:

1. Rodericus (fl. late 14th century)/Christopher Otto, Angelorum psalat (c. 1390s).

2. Elliott Carter (1908-2012), Duo for Violin and Piano (1973-4).

3. Tyshawn Sorey, Everything Changes, Nothing Changes (2018).

4. Ruth Crawford [Seeger] (1901-1953), String Quartet 1931 (1931).

5. Tyshawn Sorey, For Conrad Tao (2020).

6. Elliott Carter (1908-2012), String Quartet no. 3 (1971).

Tuesday, September 3rd

string quartet festival
day two

Elliott Carter (1908-2012), String Quartet No. 5 (1995); Pacifica Quartet, live, Tokyo, 2004

 

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lagniappe

reading table

The book itself is sort of a perfect metaphor for a human being. It’s got a front and a back, it’s got a spine, and it’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

—Chris Ware

Wednesday, 12/12/12

 passings

Charles Rosen, pianist, teacher, writer (1972 National Book Award for Nonfiction: The Classical Style), May 5, 1927-December 9, 2012

Frederic Chopin, Nocturne in B major (Op. 62, No. 1)
Live, Atlanta, 1985

***

Johann Sebastian Bach, The Art of the Fugue, excerpts
Recording, 1967

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lagniappe

musical thoughts

A German pre-Romantic philosopher, Johann Georg Hamann, held that the sense of music was given to man to make it possible to measure time. The composer Elliott Carter’s fame comes partly from a reconception of time in music that fits the world of today (although there are many other aspects of his music to enjoy). We do not measure time regularly, like clocks do, but with many differing rates of speed. In the complexity of today’s experience, it often seems as if simultaneous events were unfolding with different measures. These different measures coexist and often blend but are not always rationalized in experience under one central system. We might call this a system of irreconcilable regularities.

In Carter’s music, things happen for different instruments at different tempos—none of them dominates the others, and an idiosyncratic character is often given to the different instruments that preserves their individuality. Carter is never dogmatic, and the different measures of time may occasionally combine briefly for a moment of synthesis. The individuality of tempo and rhythm can make his music difficult to perform as each player unconsciously responds physically to the different rhythms he or she hears and yet tries to preserve his or her own system intact. Carter is, for this reason, best interpreted by those musicians who have often played his scores. Just as, in a polyphonic work of Bach or any other competent and genial contrapuntist, one takes pleasure in the independent line and interest of the separate voices and rejoices in the way they illuminate each other, so in Carter we can often delight in a quick foreground movement heard against a mysteriously shifting background that gives the foreground a new sense.

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[T]he sense of his music is dependent as much upon tone color and dynamics as it is on pitch; the more salient aspects of the individual instrumental lines have always to be brought out.

—Charles Rosen, “Elliott Carter’s Music of Time,” New York Review of Books, 2/9/12

*****

Everyone needs a hobby. Some pianists collect Oriental vases. I write books.

—Charles Rosen, 1981 interview

Thursday, 11/8/12

passings 

Elliott Carter, composer, December 11, 1908-November 5, 2012

He was an artist of plenitude. His music is so full of sonic detail it often seems about to burst. What if we gave our daily lives, moment by moment, the sort of full-force attention his music demands—and rewards?

Cello Concerto (2001), dress rehearsal, 2008, New York
Julliard Orchestra (James Levine, cond.) with Dane Johansen, cello

#1

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lagniappe

musical thoughts

As a young man, I harbored the populist idea of writing for the public. I learned that the public didn’t care. So I decided to write for myself. Since then, people have gotten interested.

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I just can’t bring myself to do something that someone else has done before. Each piece is a kind of crisis in my life.

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I like to sound spontaneous and fresh, but my first sketches often sound mechanical. I have to write them over until they sound spontaneous.

Elliott Carter

*****

I have loved Elliott Carter’s music for many years. Last month, I recorded his cello concerto, and I was speaking to him only last Saturday. For me, he was the most important American composer of his time. His music was not complicated, but it was complex. I think its outstanding quality was that it always seemed to be in good humour. If Haydn had lived in the 21st century, he would have probably have composed like this.

When you get to be 103, modernism is a very wide concept. In some aspects he was ahead of his times, but then some of his music doesn’t sound like music of the future – but it is unmistakable and I simply love it. The problem with listening to music today is that there’s so much of it everywhere. We’ve got used to hearing music without actually listening to it. Carter’s is to be listened to.

Daniel Barenboim, conductor, pianist

*****

I met him on an incredibly hot day in New York last summer. He was affable and kind, and was using a giant magnifying glass to look at a score. When I asked if I could play a passage of his cello concerto, he said: “Of course, but I don’t hear so well.” He lasted about seven seconds before he stopped me with incredibly detailed observations about my playing. He told me things about the work I’d never heard before, saying he’d wanted to make use of the cello’s incredible expressive possibilities. “I wanted it to sing,” he said.

In the fourth movement, he wanted my playing to be more expressive, which is something I’m rarely told. Usually people tell me to calm down! He composed every day, too. Even on that day, when it was over 40 degrees [Celsius], he’d got up that morning to write.

Alisa Wellerstein, cellist

Saturday, 10/6/12

my favorite 103-year-old composer

Elliott Carter (December 11, 1908-), Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux (1985); Claire Chase (flute),* Joshua Rubin (clarinet), International Contemporary Ensemble; live, Brazil (Sao Paulo), 2012

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lagniappe

musical thoughts

The “opportunity cost” of listening to something you already know, to borrow from the dreary world of economics, is that you’re forgoing an opportunity to discover something new.

*****

 found words

Last night, after a concert at the University of Chicago’s Mandel Hall (Takacs Quartet), I stopped at Harold’s Chicken Shack on 53rd Street, as much for old times’ sake as anything else (Harold got me through law school), and found this at the bottom of the receipt:

REFUNDS WITHIN 24 HOURS

MUST BRING FOOD BACK

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*Winner of a 2012 MacArthur “genius grant.”

Saturday, 12/17/11

Happy (Belated) 103rd Birthday, Elliott!

Elliott Carter, composer, December 11, 1908-

The other night I put this on, thinking I’d do something else while it played; but, as it turned out, “something else” had to wait.

String Quartet No. 2 (1959), Composers Quartet

More? Here. And here.

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lagniappe

Juilliard String Quartet with Elliott Carter, 2008
Rehearsing String Quartet No. 5

*****

musical thoughts

Mr. Carter has written 15 new works since his 100th birthday.

—Allan Kozinn, New York Times, 12/13/11

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Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Webern, Bartok, Shostakovich, Carter, et al.: you could spend the rest of your life listening to nothing but string quartets without ever feeling deprived.

Sunday, 7/3/11

This guy I can’t get enough of.

Vernard Johnson, “Don’t Wait ’Til The Battle Is Over, Shout Now!”; live, TV broadcast (Bobby Jones Gospel)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Time for just one note? 6:23.

More? Here. And here.

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lagniappe

art beat

Lee Friedlander, Cherry Blossom Time in Japan (2006)

*****

reading table

Yesterday, opening my Emily Dickinson collection (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by R. W. Franklin) at random, I came upon this.

We do not play on Graves —
Because there isn’t Room —
Besides — it isn’t even — it slants
And People come —

And put a Flower on it —
And hang their faces so —
We’re fearing that their Hearts will drop —
And crush our pretty play —

And so we move as far
As Enemies — away —
Just looking round to see how far
It is — Occasionally —

—Emily Dickinson (#599)

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*****

listening room: what’s playing

Echocord Jubilee Comp. (Echocord)

Art Ensemble of Chicago, Full Force (ECM)

Art Ensemble of Chicago, Urban Bushmen (ECM)

Paul Motian (with Lee Konitz, soprano & alto saxophones; Joe Lovano, tenor saxophone; Bill Frisell, guitar; Charlie Haden, bass), On Broadway Vol. 3 (Winter & Winter)

Rebirth Brass Band, Feel Like Funkin’ It Up (Rounder)

Marc Ribot, Silent Movies (Pi Recordings)

• Wadada Leo Smith, Kabell Years: 1971-1979 (Tzadik)

Charles “Baron” Mingus, West Coast, 1945-49 (Uptown Jazz)

• John Alexander’s Sterling Jubilee Singers, Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb (New World Records)

Rev. Johnny L. Jones, The Hurricane That Hit Atlanta (Dust-to-Digital)

Elliott Carter, composer; Ursula Oppens, piano; Oppens Plays Carter (Cedille)

Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, composers; Maurizio Pollini, piano, piano works (Schoenberg), Variations Op. 27 (Webern) (Deutsche Grammophon)

Morton Feldman, For Bunita Marcus, Stephane Ginsburgh, piano (Sub Rosa)

WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University)
Bird Flight (Phil Schaap, jazz [Charlie Parker])
Traditions in Swing (Phil Schaap, jazz)
—Daybreak Express
(Various, jazz)
Out to Lunch (Various, jazz)
Jazz Profiles (Various, jazz)
Jazz Alternatives (Various, jazz)
Morning Classical (Various, classical)
Afternoon New Music (Various, classical and hard-to-peg)
Eastern Standard Time (Carter Van Pelt, Jamaican music)

WFMU-FM
Mudd Up! (DJ/Rupture, “new bass and beats”)
Sinner’s Crossroads
(Kevin Nutt, gospel)
—Give The Drummer Some
(Doug Schulkind, sui generis)
Downtown Soulville with Mr. Fine Wine (soul)

Saturday, 6/4/11

What would it be like to wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee, then sit down at the piano and try, again, to open this up, let it breathe, let it sing?

David Holzman, piano/recording session, 7/10/10
Music of Stefan Wolpe, Volume 6 (Bridge Records), 2011
Stefan Wolpe (1902-1972), Four Studies on Basic Rows (Passacaglia)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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lagniappe

I asked him to teach my class of young English student composers—feeling really that he at least would give the students one worthwhile class. He started talking about his Passacaglia, a piano work built of sections each based on a musical interval—minor second, major second, and so on. At once, sitting at the piano, he was caught up in a meditation on how wonderful these primary materials, intervals, were; playing each over and over again on the piano, singing, roaring, humming them, loudly, softly, quickly, slowly, short and detached or drawn out and expressive. All of us forgot time passing, when the class was to finish. As he led us from the smallest one, a minor second, to the largest, a major seventh—which took all afternoon—music was reborn, new light dawned, we all knew we would never again listen to music as we had. Stefan had made each of us experience very directly the living power of these primary elements. From then on indifference was impossible. Such a lesson most of us never had before or since, I imagine.

Elliott Carter

Saturday, 3/27/10

Here’s more from my favorite 101-year-old composer.

Elliott Carter, Two Diversions for Piano (2) (1999)/Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano

Want more Elliott Carter? Here. Here.

More Pierre-Laurent Aimard? Here.

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lagniappe

I used to write these gigantic pieces that were very complex and took a long time to compose, if not to play. I am now much more impatient and couldn’t stand working for so long on the same thing. But also those pieces were me working out certain ideas about music. Those ideas are now part of my life, so I don’t have to think about them in quite the same way. But some things never change, in that you are still glad to finish a piece and still wonder whether it is as good as you hoped it might be when you started out.

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The Two Diversions were an idea of Ursula Oppens. Oppens decided that Carnegie Hall should commission composers to write what they considered easy pieces, and to make an album for piano students, and so I wrote two pieces for this album. I don’t think they’re as easy as they’d hoped, but there are some people with even harder ones.

—Elliott Carter (first quote’s from here, second here)

Saturday, 12/12/09

Last week a recording of his complete works for solo piano (so far), Oppens Plays Carter (on Chicago-based Cedille Records), was nominated for a Grammy.

This week he celebrated his 101st birthday.

Next week?

Elliott Carter, Quintet for Piano (1997), Ursula Oppens, The Arditti Quartet, live

Part 1

Part 2

Want more? Here.

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