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In David Schiff’s second biography on the composer Elliot Carter, fittingly entitled Carter, Schiff takes a deep dive into Carter’s life, relationships, and personality. Schiff was a one-time student of Carter, as well as a life-long friend, and as such, is uniquely positioned to offer a lucid “insider’s” view of the notoriously illusive composer. But, unfortunately, Schiff’s familiarity with Carter gets the better of him, resulting in moments where the text seems reminiscent of Carter’s own work: disjointed and, at times, convoluted.

Indeed, Schiff is more a music critic than a biographer. His vast knowledge of Carter’s work shines through during his in-depth analyses of Carter’s compositions, revealing both insightful and structured critiques. Yet, his analyses are not for the untrained eye. Rather, Schiff assumes the reader is endowed with a wide understanding of music theory and a general familiarity with major composers’ works. Although the book does include a “who’s who” guide to composers as an appendix, the book is definitively geared towards those with professional training. Despite these shortcomings, the book adds to the relatively small amount of scholarship on one of the premiere composers of our time.

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Author David Schiff
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 296 pages
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publish Date 2018-Aug-01
ISBN 9780190259150
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue March 2019
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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