Elliott Carter as (Anti-)Serial Composer

Elliott Carter as (Anti-)Serial Composer DANiel A. gubermAN Was elliott Carter a twelve-tone or serial composer? For decades scholars and critics have argued about the basic methods behind Carter's compositions, and still today scholars offer contradictory answers to this seemingly straightforward question. on the one hand, Joseph straus, in his Twelve-Tone Music in America, writes: "During the war, a rising generation of twelve-tone composers (including milton babbitt, elliott Carter, and george perle) was already at work, forging new ways of composing with twelve-tones related only to each other," and mark evan bonds, in A History of Music in Western Culture, states: "[Carter's] early music tends toward the Neoclassical, but he later embraced serial composition."1 on the other hand, some see Carter's antiserial statements as a defining characteristic. Charles rosen, a close friend of Carter, declares: "Carter is perhaps the only major composer of our time who has never even tried to write a serial work," and steven mackey adds: "elliott Carter, in fact, has always been provocatively anti-serial."2 This confusion stems, in part, from Carter's statements on the matter, which were inconsistent and often purposefully muddled the issue. For example, in his 1960 article, "shop Talk by an American Composer," he answers the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Music University of Illinois Press

Elliott Carter as (Anti-)Serial Composer

American Music, Volume 33 (1) – Nov 1, 2015

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1945-2349
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Abstract

DANiel A. gubermAN Was elliott Carter a twelve-tone or serial composer? For decades scholars and critics have argued about the basic methods behind Carter's compositions, and still today scholars offer contradictory answers to this seemingly straightforward question. on the one hand, Joseph straus, in his Twelve-Tone Music in America, writes: "During the war, a rising generation of twelve-tone composers (including milton babbitt, elliott Carter, and george perle) was already at work, forging new ways of composing with twelve-tones related only to each other," and mark evan bonds, in A History of Music in Western Culture, states: "[Carter's] early music tends toward the Neoclassical, but he later embraced serial composition."1 on the other hand, some see Carter's antiserial statements as a defining characteristic. Charles rosen, a close friend of Carter, declares: "Carter is perhaps the only major composer of our time who has never even tried to write a serial work," and steven mackey adds: "elliott Carter, in fact, has always been provocatively anti-serial."2 This confusion stems, in part, from Carter's statements on the matter, which were inconsistent and often purposefully muddled the issue. For example, in his 1960 article, "shop Talk by an American Composer," he answers the

Journal

American MusicUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Nov 1, 2015

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