Elliott Carter, who died on November 5 a little over a month before his 104th birthday, wrote music that is tough to love: it can be thorny, knotty, dense, complex, brainy, abstract, atonal, harsh, jagged, and sometimes genuinely off-putting. It has no intention of seducing listeners, of attracting love through flattery, cajolery, putting on a song and dance, of singing “let me entertain you.” It is also prismatically colorful, rich in varied gestures, dazzling, continuously stimulating, full of the liveliest contrasts, always connected to human utterances, capable of suggesting a complete personality in micro-seconds. Its complexity is layered, and every layer speaks in a different voice, each voice constantly modulating itself in response to the others in ways that often seem all-too-human, reacting defensively, opposing, ignoring, or criticizing, harping, deploring, chuckling ironically, cackling, and on occasion, agreeing.
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Elliott Carter (1908-2012)[/caption]