American composer Elliott Carter sadly passed away last night aged 103, which is odd because both yesterday and the day before Liam and I were marveling at his incredible long life and infatigable spirit in conversations with friends and family. Reality seems somehow changed with him gone – I think we both just expected him to live forever.
Along with the wonderful Graeme Jennings (formerly second violinist of the Arditti Quartet) and Vanessa Tomlinson (percussionist part of Clocked Out Duo), Kupka’s Piano is starting to plan an Elliott Carter tribute festival for 2013. We’ll learn this, one of the most difficult pieces written for our instrumentation:
There’s lots of other Carter I would like to play too. The flute concerto, for example (one of the pieces he wrote in the year of his 100th birthday I think!):
I think that will be my concerto choice for YPA – I was toying with the idea of doing Saariaho, but now it’s got to be Carter.
He really was one of the most incredible composers of all time, and perhaps especially inspiring for his late blooming and steady, sustainable career. The obituary in the Guardian is a wonderful reflection of his life and achievements. But best of all is to really listen to and study his music, which requires time and most of all it requires being seen in live performance, where it’s visceral energy can shine through – it has a reputation for being difficult to listen to, but having played a few pieces live they are fantastic fun and audiences (even, or maybe especially, those with little or no musical training) tend to respond very well to it!
So farewell dear Carter, I wish that I had got to know you better before you were gone. I’ve loved and admired you properly since 2008, but four years is such a small part of your wonderful and terribly inspiring life, so I’ll do you the honour of continuing to love and admire your music as many years as I succeed you.