Cover image for The music of Elliott Carter
The music of Elliott Carter
Schiff, David.
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xii, 372 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
List of works: p. 330-334.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.C335 S25 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Arguably the most important American composer of the century, Elliott Carter often has been more highly regarded in Europe than in his native land. Interest in his work has grown rapidly in recent years, however, and the celebration of his ninetieth birthday in December, 1998, accompanied by numerous performances and new recordings, undoubtedly will increase the attention of his fellow citizens to this remarkable figure.Authoritative and gracefully written, The Music of Elliott Carter engages composers, performers, and critics, and speaks to concert-goers, whether attuned to or alarmed by the formidable difficulty of Carter's music. David Schiff views the music from the perspective of the composer's development and relates his compositional techniques to those nonmusical arts--contemporary American poetry in particular--with which Carter has been deeply involved. The volume benefits from Schiff's extensive discussions of Carter's works with their most noted performers, including Heinz Holliger, Oliver Knussen, and Ursula Oppens, and from the generous cooperation of the composer himself.This new edition, a thoroughly reorganized, revised, and updated version of the book published in 1983, accounts for the many new works written by Carter since 1980 and accommodates the burgeoning critical literature on his music. Its features include many musical examples and a selected discography. In addition to the new foreword, the composer has provided his listing of three-to-six note chords and a note on "Voyage."

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Schiff has thoroughly revised and updated his seminal 1983 study of contemporary American composer Elliott Carter. This new edition effectively replaces the earlier one and is particularly welcome for its inclusion of a wealth of compositions and bibliographic citations from 1981 to 1998. Its thematic organization and tightly conceived plan, eschewing descriptions of Carter's musical vocabulary in favor of a straightforward glossary, are an improvement in reader-friendliness. Detailed musical analyses of major works still form the core of the book, requiring at least some preparation on the part of the intended audience of "performers, listeners, composers, and critics." A narrative overview places Carter in the context of the literary, artistic, and musical developments of the century and shows how he drew inspiration from poets and other creative figures. A chronological list of works, an extensive bibliography, and a discography add immeasurably to this volume. Highly recommended for sophisticated music collections.¬ĎBarry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Among the US's most prolific and venerated composers, Carter has been writing music for seven decades. Shiff (Reed College) has written this new edition with the kind of renewed freshness and sense of development that Carter's work continues to reflect. The obvious task for a new look at the work of a living composer is to add to the catalog the new works; accordingly, Schiff looks at the last 16 years of Carter's oeuvre. But Schiff also undertakes the more difficult task of retrospection and reevaluation of Carter's work in light of his more recent compositional direction. Thus, whereas many second editions are content to be "add-ons" to a previous edition, the present volume presents a complete rethinking and reconfiguration of the book. For example, the earlier edition was chronological, but this volume groups compositions by genre, a format more suited to a comprehensive view of a composer's output. Some of Schiff's analyses are completely new, and his examples are clearer and more succinct than those of the earlier volume. Schiff also includes a technical glossary and appendixes of Carter's notes on particular techniques and pieces. A wholly different book from the first edition and a valuable new contribution to the critical literature for upper-division undergraduates through professionals. M. Neil Augustana College (IL)