The Day After

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The Birthday of a Century
Photo ©2008 Chris Lee, courtesy Carnegie Halll

Yesterday was the 100th birthday of Elliott Carter, but the party is still going full throttle. Page one of today’s New York Times even features Carter being presented with a birthday cake at last night’s Boston Symphony concert at Carnegie Hall, which incuded the New York premiere of Carter’s totally amazing Interventions for Piano and Orchestra (composed at the age of 98 and chock full of visceral percussion and awesome passages for maracas).

Pundits moan that composers never make it to the front page of newspapers anymore unless it’s an obituary of someone of world stature like Bernstein, Cage, or Messiaen, and that even then those articles are below the fold. But Joan Tower made it to the front page of the paper when her Made in America premiered in Glens Falls and today’s headline for Carter, at least, is above the fold. And those of us who read our newspapers online were delighted to see that Carter’s birthday was the top photo on the homepage of nytimes.com at around 10:00 AM this morning.

But it’s not just the print media. While The Today Show has delayed its shout-out to EC until next Friday, there are other better TV offerings. I reported earlier this week that Carter was on the local evening news. What I didn’t realize at the time was at the same time that WNYC-TV was airing the segment, Carter was also on The Charlie Rose Show on PBS. I’ve mused in the past that a pinnacle of composer success would be to have two significant premieres on the same evening and have to figure out which one to attend, but I think being on two different TV stations at the same time might up the ante. And thanks to the internet, we can watch both NBC and PBS.

But what I’m really looking forward to his tonight’s concert at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. Unlike last night’s affair which (apparently as per his request) only included one Carter composition, tonight is all-Carter and offers a work never before publicly heard, the brand new Duettino for violin and cello. Now if only all the copyeditors who are feting Carter everywhere can figure out that Elliott has two Ts!

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