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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Elliott Carter's legacy: 'a language of teeming, vitalising, mind-bending complexity'

By John Terauds on November 6, 2012

Elliott Carter, right, with one of his youthful inspirations, Igor Stravinsky.

As someone I know said on Sunday, in response to a 100-year-old’s death, “When the person is that old, you don’t mourn, you celebrate.” So it is with American composer Elliott Carter, who died suddenly yesterday, aged 104.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

You can’t help but cheer for anyone whose body and mind and creative juices flowed freely in old age, who had even in quickly changing times not outlived his place in society and culture.

Carter’s music was programmed regularly in Toronto, with him present as a guest from time to time. He had inspired a devoted core of performers as well as listeners with keen ears and sharp minds.

Most others were left bewildered by a music that, on the surface, often seemed impenetrable.

The best description and explanation of Carter’s music I’ve read recently was published last spring by the BBC’s Tom Service, in his blog for the Guardian. It’s an enlightening read.

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Here’s a fun conversation between cellist Aliaa Weilerstein and Carter, made last summer. She has recorded the Cello Concerto on her recently released album featuring Edward Elgar’s concerto:

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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