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Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter (born December 11, 1908) is an American composer of classical music.

Carter was born in New York, New York. He was encouraged as a young musician by Charles Ives and read English and music at Harvard University, where his professors included Walter Piston and Gustav Holst. He then went to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger, returning to the USA in 1935 where he directed the Ballet Caravan.

During World War II, Carter worked for the Office of War Information. He later held teaching posts at the Peabody Conservatory (1946 - 1948), Columbia University, Queens College, New York (1955-56), Yale University (1960-62), Cornell University (from 1967) and the Juilliard School (from 1972). In 1967 he was appointed a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Carter's music is typically atonal, rarely static and often rhythmically complex. Among his better known works are the Variations for Orchestra (1956); the Double Concerto for harpsichord, piano and two chamber orchestras (1959-61); the Piano Concerto (1967), written as an 85th birthday present for Igor Stravinsky; the Concerto for Orchestra (1969), loosely based on a poem by St. John Perse; and A Symphony of Three Orchestras (1976). He has also written five string quartets, of which the second and third won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1960 and 1973 respectively. Symphonia is his largest orchestral work, complex in structure but fascinating in its use of contrasting layers of instrumental textures, from delicate wind solos to crashing brass and percussion outburst.