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Milton Babbitt: A Half Century of Music at Carnegie Hall

Milton Babbitt
Milton Babbitt at his 90th birthday tribute concert, Zankel Hall, May 2006 | Photo by Richard Terrine

Composer Milton Babbitt, who died last Saturday at the age of 94, enjoyed a distinguished and decades-long association with Carnegie Hall.

To date, 46 of his works have been performed more than 75 times at the Hall. His music was first heard here in February 1957, when the song "The Widow's Lament in Springtime" was performed by soprano Bethany Beardslee, accompanied by pianist Robert Helps. The most recent performance of Babbitt's music happened in January 2010, when The MET Chamber Orchestra, conducted by James Levine, played The Head of the Bed for Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, and Cello.

Babbitt was present when his 90th birthday was celebrated on May 10, 2006 with a special tribute concert in Zankel Hall. Jeffrey Milarsky conducted members of The MET Chamber Ensemble in an all-Babbitt program.

Clear testament to his importance as a composer is the fact that nine of Babbitt's works have had their world premieres at Carnegie Hall.

09/11/1968: Correspondences for Strings and Tape performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Lukas Foss, Conductor
02/14/1980: Tableaux performed by Matthias Kriesberg, Piano
02/14/1980: My Ends Are My Beginnings performed by Anand Devendra, Clarinet
01/19/1986: Piano Concerto performed by American Composers Orchestra; Charles Wuorinen, Conductor; Alan Feinberg, Piano
03/15/1989: Beaten Paths performed by William Trigg, Marimba
03/27/1991: Soli e Duettini William Anderson, Guitar; Oren Fader, Guitar
11/15/1998: Concerto No.2 for Piano performed by the MET Orchestra; James Levine, Conductor; Robert Taub, Piano
03/02/2000: The Old Order Changeth performed by Ofra Yitzhaki, Piano
11/03/2002: Milton From the Psalter performed by the American Composers Orchestra; Steven Sloane, Conductor

Milton Babbitt, May 10, 1916–January 29, 2011.

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