Lifestyle & Belief

Elliott Carter, Pulitzer Prize winning composer of contemporary music, dies in Manhattan


Composer Elliott Carter (L) receives the 'Juilliard Medal,' as one of 17 Centennial Honorees, from Bruce Kovner (R), chairman of the board of the Juilliard School, just before the 100th commencement ceremony 20 May, 2005, at the Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall in New York.


Stan Honda

Elliott Carter, the Pulitzer Prize winning American composer, died on Monday in Manhattan aged 103.

Carter, described by The New York Times as "one of the most important and enduring voices in contemporary music,"

His music publishing company, Boosey & Hawkes, called him an "iconic American composer," according to the Associated Press.

He was little known to the general public but respected by critics and musicians, the AP wrote.

He was known for the complexity of his compositions, ranging from ballets to vocal, instrumental, chamber and orchestral pieces.

The Times wrote that his works created drama for listeners but were difficult for orchestras to learn.

Carter's reasoning was that his works gave musicians in an orchestra a measure of individuality. "This seems to me a very dramatic thing in a democratic society," he reportedly said.

In a 1992 Associated Press interview, he described his works as "music that asks to be listened to in a concentrated way and listened to with a great deal of attention."

Carter won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1960 for "Second String Quartet" and his second in 1973 for "Third String Quartet."

Igor Stravinsky called Carter's "Double Concerto for Harpsichord, Piano and Two Chamber Orchestras" composed in 1961 the first American masterpiece.

The Times reported that Carter died in the Greenwich Village apartment that he and his wife bought in 1945. 

Carter's assistant, Virgil Blackwell, confirmed his death to The Washington Post, but did not disclose the cause.

The Post wrote that he continued composing until shortly before his death.

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