Chief, Music Division (retired), New York Public Library
I first met Elliott Carter in 1986, when he was thinking of establishing a foundation that would support the performance of contemporary concert music, particularly that of American composers. We met to discuss the possibility of the sale of his papers, which were then on deposit in the Music Division of The New York Public Library at Lincoln Center, to the Paul Sacher Foundation in Switzerland. With the sale, he would be able to fund his foundation and give back to a musical community that had supported him and that was, and still is, desperately in need of money.
Elliott was for me, at that time, a towering musical figure whose music had both challenged and engaged me for many years. How amazing, then, to find someone of his stature who was able to see so far beyond his own work and to find a practical way to make his vision a reality. I told him to go ahead and to remove his papers from the Library, even though they were of such immense value. He did so, and with money from the sale was able to establish the Amphion Foundation. I sat on the board of the foundation from its beginning and was continually impressed by the high standards he set for its grantees. I also came to love his open mindedness and his delightful sense of humor. And I came to cherish his wife, Helen, whose independent spirit and common sense helped steer the board in its earlier years.
Elliott leaves us with a magnificent musical legacy and the memory of a thoughtful and concerned person who was able to blend genius with humanity to the enrichment of us all.