About ten years ago, I met Elliot Carter. When I say ‘met’, I mean I stood next to him outside the cloakroom at The Museum of Modern Art in New York while someone fetched his coat. At the time I thought this was pretty cool (cooler still because earlier that day I’d stood next to another cuddly modernist – Allen Ginsberg – in a lift. I said “hello”, he said “yeh”. Or it might have been “yh”).
Carter was mobbed by adoring fans approximately one-fifth his age – students, I guess – all pressing scores and books and albums on him for his autograph. The man was 87, smiley and cute. This year he’s 97 and everybody still loves him, of course. In fact, I think he must be the world’s best-loved difficult atonal composer.
I’d love to be at The Barbican tomorrow for the last day of the big Carter weekend but my kids won’t let me – his may be the most accessible scary post-war music you can get but they’re not buying it. We might make it to the ridiculously friendly and cheery Children’s Classic Concert at the same venue in May but I’m pretty sure they won’t be doing any Carter (no. I checked. They’re not doing any Carter).