I first came to know Elliott Carter’s music while an undergraduate student at the Univesity of California, Irvine while I was working in the listening lab. I practically “lived” in that lab, and working there gave me the opportunity to help build my knowledge of repertoire by repeated listening to the records and tapes that were on file there. I fell in love with his music immediately upon first hearing it.
As I discovered Carter’s work, I was utterly fascinated, and found in it a wealth of invention and a harmonic language that I found to be truly unique. Even the early works such as the Piano Sonata (one of the first works of his I studied) owing as it does to a certain extent, its debts to Copland and possibly, other mid - century Americans, possess a remarkable degree of innovation (particularly the first movement, with its unmeasured delineations and phrasing). After becoming acquainted with his Piano Sonata and then his ‘Cello Sonata, the First String Quartet was a true revelation, and perhaps has had the most influence on my work and approach to musical form. His sense of duality and multiplicity in these and the works that followed, has been a profound inspiration. Put simply, his music opened up whole new worlds for me, realizing that music like that is possible. Every measure reveals profound poetry and a depth of expression that is remarkable.
I first met him at a concert at Carnegie Recital Hall in the late 70s, at which time we spoke briefly and I indicated to him that I hoped that he would take a look at some of my work, We agreed to talk more at the upcoming Aspen Music Festival, where he was going to be in residence and where I was a student. After looking at some of my work in Aspen, he offered to take me on as a private student when we returned to New York. And so, for three years (1980-1983) I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting his apartment on W. 12th St for lessons.
A few years later, my wife & I were invited to the legendary Waccabuc residence for a very stimulating day in the country, with Mr. & Ms. Carter and Allen Edwards, his longtime friend and associate. I had the opportunity to see where he wrote some of his most well known works, and where he surely derived a great deal of inspiration. I will always remember that day.
His consummate class and elegance are a gift to us all, and the legacy of the depth and intelligence of his music will live on far into the future, as successive generations discover it. Words cannot express the gift he has given me in my focus and journey as an artist. Words also cannot express how much I miss him.