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Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter, Royal Festival Hall, London, February 17, 1991. Photo: Lynda Stone/Getty Images.

FOR ALMOST A QUARTER OF A CENTURY, we cheered Elliott Carter on, as he approached and passed the age of eighty, then ninety, then a hundred. And he cheered us with his continuing productivity. At 103, he was still busy composing pieces for orchestra: Instances and a piano concerto titled Dialogues II. Earlier in his second century had come songs, piano pieces, and instrumental miniatures, as well as other orchestral scores, all as fresh as morning. It seemed there was no stopping him. But, of course, there was.

Just five weeks and a day shy of his 104th birthday when he died on November 5 last year, he had long outlived anyone else with experiences like his own. Debussy and Scriabin were still composing when he began at the piano. A little later, Charles Ives was taking him to concerts; they sat together in Carnegie Hall to hear The Rite of Spring played for the first time in New

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