Elliott Carter Jr. (December 11, 1908 – November 5, 2012) was a modernist composer from the United States. After an early neoclassical period, he blended aspects of European modernism and American "ultra-modernism" into a unique style with a particular harmonic and rhythmic vocabulary, making him one of the most renowned composers of the second half twentieth century. Orchestral, chamber music, solo instrumental, and vocal pieces are among his works that are well-known and played throughout the globe. Carter received the Pulitzer Prize twice. He was born in New York and became interested in contemporary music in the 1920s. Later, he was exposed to Charles Ives. He grew to admire the American'ultra-modernists.' He studied under Nadia Boulanger in Paris in the 1930s after studying at Harvard University (including for a time with Gustav Holst in 1932). He subsequently returned to the United States. Carter was prolific in his later years, producing over 40 pieces between the ages of 90 and 100 and another 20 after turning 100 in 2008. On August 13, 2012, he finished his final piece, Epigrams for piano trio.
Carter's sole opera was written for the Berlin State Opera in 1997–98 at the request of conductor Daniel Barenboim. The piece was initially performed in the United States in 2006 at the Tanglewood Music Festival, directed by James Levine, and had its world premiere in Berlin in 1999. Later, he contemplated operas based on community suicide and a Henry James tale, but he abandoned both ideas and decided not to compose any further operas. Carter's 100th birthday was commemorated at Carnegie Hall in New York on December 11, 2008, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra and pianist Daniel Barenboim performed his Interventions for Piano and Orchestra wrote that year. He published more than 40 pieces between the ages of 90 and 100, and he wrote at least another 20 following his 100th birthday. Interventions for Piano and Orchestra was premiered at Symphony Hall in Boston on December 5, 2008, by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, directed by James Levine and featured pianist Daniel Barenboim. On his 100th birthday, Barenboim performed the piece with the BSO in Carnegie Hall in New York in the composer's presence. Carter also attended the 2009 Aldeburgh Festival to hear the world premiere of his song cycle On Conversing with Paradise, based on Ezra Pound's Canto 81 and one of Pound's 'Notes,' which are typically published after the Cantos. On June 20, 2009, baritone Leigh Melrose and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, directed by Oliver Knussen, gave the world premiere.
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