Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Saturday, June 8

Elliott Carter's “Two Controversies and a Conversation”

Synopsis

The American composer Elliott Carter lived to be 103 and remained amazingly productive, publishing more than 40 works between ages 90 and 100, and over 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 received its first performance 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 new work, titled just “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 all the time playing a kind of game with each other. I tried to put all that into my music … After the premiere of ‘Conversations’ at the Aldeburgh Festival in June of 2011, [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

Additional Information

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