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CLASSICAL MUSIC

Composer Elliott Carter dies at 103

Composer Elliott Carter in Manhattan. (Photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

The towering American composer Elliott Carter has died at 103 years old. His longtime associate, the clarinetist Virgil Blackwell, confirmed that Mr. Carter died peacefully of natural causes in his New YorkCity home Monday afternoon.

Mr. Carter remained extremely prolific until the very end, writing dozens of works in his so called late-late period.

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“He was a remarkable man, we know that,” said Blackwell by phone on Monday evening. “Music was the most important thing in his life. He put all of his energy into composing. And the number of pieces he was able to write in the last 10 years was absolutely astounding. They were all different, he didn’t repeat himself. And he was a very generous man, and very humble in many respects.”

Mr. Carter’s Boston connections were multiple. He attended Harvard as an undergraduate in the 1920s (his college recommendation letter was written by the composer Charles Ives). He later claimed that he learned “the whole repertory of older music” by attending Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts as a student. He also sang with the Harvard Glee Club during performances with the BSO under Serge Koussevitzy.

More recently, Carter’s music was actively championed by former BSO music director James Levine. The BSO commissioned Carter’s Horn Concerto, the “Boston Concerto,” and the brief orchestral work “Micomicón.”

“I feel I owe the Boston Symphony a lot,” Carter told the Globe in 2008, adding “and I have done what I could to repay them.”

This post will be updated with additional details.

Jeremy Eichler can be reached at jeichler@globe.com.
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