Composer Elliott Carter dies at age 103

Classical composer Elliott Carter, whose challenging, rhythmically complex works earned him widespread admiration and two Pulitzer Prizes, died yesterday at age 103.

In a 1992 Associated Press interview, Carter described his works as “music that asks to be listened to in a concentrated way and listened to with a great deal of attention. It’s not music that makes an overt theatrical effect, but it assumes the listener is listening to sounds and making some sense out of them.”

The complex way the different instruments interact in his compositions created drama for listeners who made the effort to understand them, but it made them difficult for orchestras to learn. He said he tried to give each of the musicians individuality within the context of a comprehensible whole.

While little known to the general public, he was long respected by an inner circle of critics and musicians. He remained very active, taking new commissions even as he celebrated his 100th birthday in December 2008 with a gala at Carnegie Hall.

Besides composing, Carter wrote extensively about 20th-century music. A collection of articles, “The Writings of Elliott Carter: An American Composer Looks at Modern Music,” was published in 1977.

Read the full obit at nytimes.com.

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