Just forwarded to me by a friend...
Elliott Carter nearing 100 atones for his atonality
Sun Apr 01, 2007 6:53 pm From the Associated Press NEW YORK ---
American composer Elliott Carter, an exemplar of the atonalist
style of modernism and according to admirers the greatest living
practitioner of his craft, apologized to music lovers around the
world today for what he called "a half century of wasted time."
"What was I thinking?" the venerable Mr. Carter, 99, said at
his home in Manhattan. "Nobody likes this stuff. Why have I
wasted my life?" Carter said he "went wrong" back in the 1940s
and spent the next 60 years pursuing the musical dead-end of
atonality. In the past seven decades, he has produced five
string quartets, a half dozen song cycles, works for orchestra,
solo concertos and innumerable chamber works for various
combinations of instruments --- all in an advanced, complex style
he now dismisses as "noise."
Despite consistent encouragement of many mainstream musicians
such as Boston Symphony Music Director James Levine, for Chicago
Symphony conductor Daniel Barenboim, and the cellist Yo-Yo Ma,
Carter said his many admirers were "delusional."
"The critics who said they were just congratulating themselves
for being smarter than everybody else were right all along," he
said. "We should all go back and get our heads on straight."
Carter said he blamed his late wife, Helen, for turning him into
an unrepentant modernist. "She liked this stuff, and I could
never say no to her," he said. Mrs. Carter died in 2003 at
Since then, Carter said, he has been reevaluating his aesthetic.
"I'd like to write something pretty for a change --- maybe
something based on an Irish folk tune," he said. He was uncertain
whether he would withdraw his substantial catalogue from the
repertoire, though one alternative would be to revise his works,
ending each with a tonic triad, he said.
"I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders,"
Carter said. "From now on, I promise to be good."
(One should note the dateline of this story.)
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