Composers Datebook

Elliott Carter's “Two Controversies and a Conversation”

Elliott Carter (1908 – 2012) “Conversation,” from “Two Controversies and a Conversation” (Eric Huebner, piano; Colin Currie, percussion; New York Philharmonic; David Robertson, cond.) NYP 20120112


Composer's Datebook - June 8, 2021

2:00


June 08, 2021

Synopsis

The American composer Elliott Carter lived to be 103, completing more than 40 works between ages 90 and 100, and some 20 more AFTER he turned 100 in the year 2008.

On today’s date in 2012, a new chamber work by Carter with an odd title was premiered at a concert in the New York Philharmonic’s CONTACT! Series. The work was titled “Two Controversies and a Conversation” and showcased the percussive aspects of the piano, highlighting that instrument alongside a solo percussionist. The premiere was an international triple-commission from the New York Philharmonic, the Aldeburgh Festival in England, and Radio France. 

An earlier version of part of the work, titled “Conversations,” had been premiered in the UK the previous year.  The composer explained the title as follows:
“How does one converse?” asked Carter. “One person says something and tries to get the other person to respond, or carry on, or contradict a statement. Those conversing are also playing a kind of game with each other. I tried to put all that into my music … After the [Aldeburgh] premiere of ‘Conversations,’ [the British composer] Oliver Knussen suggested I expand this piece. I decided to add two more movements, which became the two ‘Controversies.’"

Music Played in Today's Program

Elliott Carter (1908 – 2012) “Conversation,” from “Two Controversies and a Conversation” (Eric Huebner, piano; Colin Currie, percussion; New York Philharmonic; David Robertson, cond.) NYP 20120112

On This Day

Births

  • 1671 - Italian composer Tomaso Albinoni, in Venice;

  • 1810 - German composer Robert Schumann, in Zwickau;

  • 1894 - Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff, in Prague; He died in a Nazi concentration camp in Wülzburg, Bavarian, in 1942;

Deaths

  • 1612 - German composer Hans Leo Hassler, age 47, in Frankfurt;

  • 1884 - American composer Henry Clay Work, age 51, in Hartford, Conn.; A printer by trade, he wrote some famous popular songs, including "Grandfather's Clock," "Father, Come Home," and "Marching Through Georgia";

  • 1908 - Russian composer Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, in Lyubensk, near Luga (now Pskov district) (Gregorian date: June 21);

  • 1940 - American composer Frederick Shepherd Converse, age 69, in Westwood, Mass.;

  • 1984 - English composer Gordon Jacob, age 88, in Saffron Walden;

  • 1998 - German-born American composer Margaret Buechner, age 76, in Midland, Mich.;

Premieres

  • 1912 - Ravel: ballet, "Daphnis et Chloé," at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, by Diaghilev and the Ballet Russe, Pierre Monteux conducting;

  • 1929 - Hindemith: "Neus vom Tage" (News of the Day), in Berlin at the Krolloper;

  • 1937 - Carl Orff:: scenic canata "Carmina Burana," in Frankfurt at the Opernhaus;

  • 1941 - Harold Shapero: "Nine Minute Overture," in New York City;

  • 1950 - Hindemith: Horn Concerto, in Baden-Baden, Germany, with the composer conducting and Dennis Brain the soloist;

  • 1953 - Britten: opera "Glorianna," in London at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden;

  • 1968 - Harrison Birtwistle: opera "Punch and Judy" at the Jubilee Hall in Aldeburgh, by the English Opera Group, David Atherton conducting;

  • 1974 - Henry Brant: "An American Requiem," in Mt. Lebanon, Pa.