Carnegie Hall celebrates the life and achievements of one of the greatest composers of our time, Elliott Carter, who passed away peacefully on Monday afternoon, November 5. Carter, a tectonic force in the shaping of American musical life, often related that his first memories of Carnegie Hall were as a child as a guest of composer Charles Ives. Carter's 103 years beautifully parallel the development of our 121-year-old Hall. He called being in the audience for the Carnegie Hall premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring in 1924 an event that "changed my whole life."
Elliott Carter recalls his early influences and describes the importance of attending the Carnegie Hall premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring—performed on January 31, 1924, by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Pierre Monteux.
Though we will miss seeing his radiant smile and impish eyes in our Hall, we salute his legacy at Carnegie Hall where, during more than 60 years, 90 of his works have been performed a total of nearly 300 times. The first of his compositions to appear on a Carnegie Hall program was The Defense of Corinth, for chorus, speaker, male chorus, and piano (four hands), performed by the Smith College and Harvard College Glee Clubs on December 18, 1951.
Thirty of his compositions received world or New York premieres at the Hall, including his Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord (world premiere, 1953); Piano Concerto (New York premiere, 1975); Cello Concert (New York premiere, 2001); and Reflections (New York premiere, 2009). His most played work has been the Sonata for Piano, performed 16 times between 1967 and 2012.
It was a great honor to our Hall that Carter served as our Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair in the 2008–2009 season and marked his 100th birthday with the New York premiere of Interventions, performed by conductor James Levine, pianist Daniel Barenboim, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, receiving a birthday cake on stage at the end of the performance.
Elliott Carter with with conductor James Levine and pianist Daniel Barenboim during the celebrations in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage for his 100th birthday on December 11, 2008. Photography: Chris Lee.
With deepest respect and admiration from the entire Carnegie Hall family.