In the Spring and Summer of 1983 David and Elliott were working ferociously together on the details of Elliott’s guitar piece, “Changes”. They corresponded by phone, fax and letter, but as the piece developed, they needed to be together in person with the guitar at hand. This led to a number of trips where David, I and our son Robert (Bobby), drove up to the Carter house on Lake Waccabuc. In my memory, each of these visits had a luminous, sun-filled quality.
I remember Elliott walking us around the verdant grounds, pruning his beloved wisteria and marveling at the old-fashioned craft that had gone into building the stone walls which delineated their property. He spoke admiringly of the stonemasons, who had judged how the stones fit each spot in the wall, balanced and held together by size, shape, and placement – without mortar. To me it was a metaphor for Elliott’s music.
Bobby was about 3 and a half years old that summer. He loved Elliott and Helen. I still have the snapshot Helen took of him, sunbathing, on the raft of their lake. There is an intensely concentrated photo of Elliott sitting on this raft. The photo, (loaned to us by Virgil Blackwell), became the cover on Bridge’s Elliott Carter, Volume 6, and was also featured as a cover of England’s International Record Review.
Throughout the years, Helen and Elliott kept in touch with Bobby in person at concerts and by mail- complimenting him when he won a medal in Latin, thanking him when (at age 13) he turned pages for a recording of Elliott’s “Duo” for violin and piano, performed by Rolf Schulte and Martin Goldray. (David and I had hurriedly pulled Bobby out of class when our page turner cancelled at the last moment).
In the 1970’s, shortly after David and I were married, Elliott and Helen invited us to a dinner party at their apartment. I mentioned to Yehudi Wyner how nervous I was to be going to the great man’s home. Yehudi’s reassuring response was: ‘They’re just folks’. Elliott and Helen were very special folks. How fortunate I am to have felt the glow of their sharp-eyed, sometimes impish, and always warm smiles.