Another smattering of birthday celebrations; a few newly inked scores; and yet another chance for our critic brethren to reflect upon the miraculous music and career of one of the world’s most vital centenarian composers.
New Yorker Elliott Carter’s 102nd birthday a perfect excuse to venture into his complex world
Toronto Star, A Sound Mind, Classical Music Blog
…with a title that says, “Eh, well, he’s 102; that’s something, at least.”
As the title may suggest, this little puff piece, doesn’t…what’s the word? Puff.
New Music Concerts was not able to get Elliott Carter to Toronto for tonight's celebration of his 102nd birthday at the Isabel Bader Theatre (the actual birthday is tomorrow).
Downer. “Now that’s a concert I want to go to!”
It's not just by virtue of longevity that Carter has become known as a connoisseur's composer.
For those who may be new to the DR, “connoisseur’s composer” means no audience, often for a reason. And what that has to do with longevity, which is a virtue according to our author, I have no clue.
In a galaxy quite removed from today’s schmaltzy nostalgia for tonality…
Long ago, when the art music world was in the thrall of atonal composition, Carter (like his French counterpart, Olivier Messiaen) developed his very own musical grammar.
And all by himself!
No shit. Maybe you should mention that these guys were also atonalists.
…but his music starts with a layering of diverse rhythms.
First of all, “diverse rhythms.” Are you saying that he used both eighth notes and sixteenth notes? Or that the rhythms are more complex than that? Didn’t he exploit metric modulation with some notoriety in the 40s?
Second, I learned metric modulation in third grade. So…
For his sound palette, Carter assembled a catalogue of (unusual) chords…
…based on intervallic content, as in atonal set-theory, which is perfectly adaptable to serialization, which he did.
…Carter assembled a catalogue of (unusual) chords, not a set of tone rows, as his serialist peers would usw [sic].
Serialism is dead, therefore, Elliott Carter is not a serialist, right?
The results are no easier to grasp at first hearing.
His own musical grammar + diverse rhythms + unusual chords = the results. Fucking spot on, John!
Like a lot of expressionist visual art, Carter's music rewards multiple visits and analytical listening.
Okay, I am about to link to Wikipedia, which is something I usually hesitate to do, because…
Well, it’s like this: while there are some awesome-smart people in this world, if I were ever to be charged with, say, murder, I would do everything in my abilities to avoid a trial and, thus, avoid being judged by my peers. Got it?
In this case, however, I’m going to link to the Wikipedia article on Expressionism, because it took me nearly three seconds to find it, which only shows how little research it took to find something to the contrary (it’s also cited):
[Expressionism’s] typical trait is to present the world in an utterly subjective perspective, radically distorting it for emotional effect, to evoke moods or ideas.
Ahem. Either John doesn’t know what expressionism is about or Elliott is getting it wrong. I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to judge for yourself.
Hold on a minute! This is a concert puff piece, right? So why should I go, again?
The Isabel Bader Theatre is normally a horrible place to hear classical music because of its dry-as-dust acoustics.
But, for Carter’s music…?