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Elliott Carter

Rhythm chart for Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto for Harpsichord, Piano, and Two Orchestras, 1959–61.

IN THE SUMMER OF 1961, at the Aspen Music Festival, the Juilliard String Quartet not only performed Elliott Carter’s Second String Quartet but gave a lecture demonstration on it. I was an eager student making the most of that brief interlude between high school and college, and both the music itself, heard in an intuitive jumble, and also the organization of it—each instrument expressing its own personality by means of unique intervals and tempi—made an indelible impression on me. It was not until 1966 that I actually met Mr. Carter and his wife, Helen, and it was in the early 1970s that they befriended me and the other members of our new music group, Speculum Musicae. Helen taught us how to behave both as aristocrats and as true democrats. It is hard to imagine Elliott without that backdrop of ferocious idealism. And his music, for all its beauty and complexity, was (

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