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Taking Names: Composer Elliott Carter, Pulitzer winner, dies at 103

- - 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."

Mr. Kershaw scored major hits in the early '90s, including "She Don't Know She's Beautiful" and "I Can't Reach Her Anymore." He has sold more than 5 million albums.

'Gangnam Style' rapperto be honored in S. Korea

South Korea has awarded one of its highest cultural honors to the rapper Psy for taking the world by storm with "Gangnam Style."

The culture ministry announced Tuesday that the 34-year-old singer, whose real name is Park Jae-Sang, would receive the Okgwan Order of Cultural Merit, awarded for "outstanding meritorious services" to the arts.

"Psy has been chosen to be decorated for not only being a long-term artist, but also for advertising Gangnam widely and increasing the world's interest in Korea," a culture ministry official told Agence France-Presse.

Psy has rocketed to international fame since his "Gangnam Style" video -- in which he performs his now-famous horse-riding dance -- went viral after being posted on YouTube in July.

"Gangnam Style," which is a tribute to an upmarket neighborhood in Seoul, has since racked up more than 654 million views, making it the second most-watched YouTube video of all time, behind Justin Bieber's "Baby," at 796 million.

The song has topped charts from Britain to Australia, and has occupied the number two slot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for six straight weeks.

Film director Kim Ki-Duk, who won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival this year with his movie "Pieta," will receive the Eungwan Order of Cultural Merit -- which ranks higher than Psy's medal.

Brooke Shields' mother, former manager, dies

Teri Shields raised eyebrows when she allowed her 11-year-old daughter, Brooke, to be cast as a prostitute in 1978's "Pretty Baby." A few years later, she permitted a teenage Brooke Shields to famously star in a series of commercials for Calvin Klein jeans, provocatively professing that nothing comes between "me and my Calvins."

Teri Shields died last week in New York City, according to Jill Fritzo, a spokeswoman for Brooke Shields. According to The Associated Press, The New York Times reported the elder Ms. Shields died following a long illness related to dementia.

Ms. Shields started promoting her daughter as an actress and model when she was still an infant and managed her until her 20s. Brooke Shields parted ways professionally with her mother in 1995, describing the move as "the hardest thing." She told Rolling Stone the following year that "something didn't feel right."

Ms. Shields said in 1996 that she was proud of her daughter for taking control of her life and career.

"I felt that she had to be on her own. It kills me once in a while. I would like to get over it," she said in an interview on TV's "Extra."