- - Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Classical composer Elliott Carter, whose challenging, rhythmically complex works earned him widespread admiration and two Pulitzer Prizes, died Monday at age 103.

His music publishing company, Boosey & Hawkes, called him an “iconic American composer.” It didn’t give the cause of his death.

In a 1992 Associated Press interview, Mr. Carter described his works as “music that asks to be listened to in a concentrated way and listened to with a great deal of attention.”

The complex way the instruments interact in his compositions created drama for listeners who made the effort to understand them, but made them difficult for orchestras to learn. He said he tried to give each of the musicians individuality within the context of a comprehensible whole.

While little known to the general public, he was long respected by an inner circle of critics and musicians. In 2002, The New York Times said his string quartets were among “the most difficult music ever conceived,” and it hailed their “volatile emotions, delicacy and even, in places, plucky humor.”

Mr. Carter had remained astonishingly active, taking new commissions even as he celebrated his 100th birthday in December 2008 with a gala at Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Carter won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1960 for his Second String Quartet; his second award was in 1973 for his Third String Quartet. The Juilliard String Quartet chose to mark its 45th anniversary in 1991 with a concert of all four Carter string quartets. A fifth quartet came out in 1995.

When the first National Medal of Arts awards were given in 1985, Mr. Carter was one of 10 people honored, along with such legends as Martha Graham, Ralph Ellison and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Besides composing, Mr. Carter wrote extensively about 20th-century music. A collection of articles, “The Writings of Elliott Carter: An American Composer Looks at Modern Music,” was published in 1977.

Mr. Carter as born in New York in 1908. As a young man he became acquainted with composer Charles Ives, who encouraged his ambitions. He studied literature at Harvard and then studied music in Paris under famed teacher Nadia Boulanger, who also guided Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Virgil Thompson.

In 1939, he married sculptor Helen H. Frost Jones. They had one son. He is survived by his son and a grandson.

Country singer Kershaw escapes injury in crash

Country singer Sammy Kershaw is thankful to be alive after his tour bus was struck by another vehicle.

It happened Friday in Nocona, Texas. The impact caused major damage to the bus, and the car was totaled, according to The Associated Press. The driver of the car was hospitalized with injuries. Mr. Kershaw and the nine members of his band and crew were shaken and sore but not seriously hurt.

In a statement, Mr. Kershaw said, “Buses and cars can be replaced but people can’t.” No one died, but Mr. Kershaw said it could’ve gone the other way. He said he believes they had “a guardian angel.”

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