- Hardcover: 356 pages
- Publisher: Cornell University Press; Second edition (November 3, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780801436123
- ISBN-13: 978-0801436123
- ASIN: 0801436125
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Music of Elliott Carter Hardcover – November 3, 1998
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When David Schiff finished his overview of Elliott Carter's music in 1983, Carter was already 75 years old. No one could have predicted the flood of marvelous new pieces (including three large-scale concertos and two string quartets) the composer would produce in the intervening years. This second edition is current through April 1998 and arrives in time for the composer's 90th birthday. Schiff is the ideal guide for this repertoire: a composer himself who studied with Carter, he has also conducted the Triple Duo. His writing is stylish--in the String Quartet No. 4, he writes, the second movement "seems to begin over the first violin's repeated objections." Schiff is lucid without ever being superficial. Instead of the strictly chronological organization of the first edition, he now groups the music by genre. (This system is especially helpful in understanding the five string quartets.) Each chapter has a brief general introduction--the first few paragraphs of the vocal music chapter in particular are a model of practical musical thought. There is a technical glossary, an eight-page bibliography (which might have mentioned Andrew Porter's enthusiastic New Yorker reviews of the pieces), and an 18-page discography. Although there are a few dozen musical examples, readers will need scores to follow some of the discussion. Of necessity, Schiff describes some of the most recent music instead of analyzing it. Anyone who wishes to gain a foothold in Carter's endlessly rewarding world might listen to the excellent Chicago Symphony recording of Variations for Orchestra and follow Schiff's elegant commentary. --William R. Braun
From Library Journal
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.?Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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To give but one example of poor analysis, see Schiff's description of the beginning of the Cello Sonata, a pivotal work in Carter's career. Schiff describes the opening sonority of the work as the set /012578/, the all-trichord hexachord and a signature Carter sound, but the actual pitch content of the opening gesture is A-A#-B-D#-E#-F#, which is /012568/. To the casual reader, this might not make much of a difference, but inaccuracies like this really do matter to the theorist, especially when dealing with a composer who manipulates specific sets for specific reasons. This is only one instance of incorrect identification, but there are many, not just of pitch sets but also rhythmic ratios, another extremely important aspect of Carter analysis. I have the Second Edition, so maybe some of these issues have been corrected.
Readers interested in this music would be better served by "Elliott Carter Studies" edited by Marguerite Boland and John Link (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0521113628). It is well curated and contains probing and *accurate* articles that include excellent essays by true Carter experts like Jonathan W. Bernard and Brenda Ravenscroft. Schiff's absence from this volume is conspicuous.