Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy 100th Birthday Elliot Carter

Being quite removed from the music world in the past years, I ran into a Charlie Rose interview with wonderful classical composer Elliot Carter last night, on the occasion of his 100th birthday and a celebration concert in his honor tonight at Carnegie Hall. Elliot carter is considered America's leading composer, he has contributed enormously to the world of music both as a musician and as an advocate of music education. As he mentions in a BBC interview: "...It was my generation actually that started the idea of having music taught - composition taught, not only in conservatories but also in universities in the United States . We started out maybe with 30 or 40 composers at most in America . Now we have 20,000 - all as a result of my unfortunate efforts."

Watching the interview was a pleasure not only because of Carter's enlightening presence and radiance of youth, joy and wisdom at his advanced age, it was also very enlightening to me as an artist and former musician. His words helped me define many of the things that I intuitively sensed but wasn't able to pinpoint. In a way, it helped me connect the dots and come to realize why I feel the way I do about my art. Being a former musician, I sometimes feel I am 'painting music' or 'playing a painting' or 'composing art'... for me, the experience of creating art is very similar to creating the art of music. It is a non verbal language which expresses our human condition in a way that can transform and transcend, in a way that can be interpreted with words but not expressed by them. Music and art, for me, use the mind as a tool, not the other way around. Music that is great is not created by the brain, but the composer is using the brain to transfer sound into notes, or into the instrument. The same is true, in my opinion, in regards to great art, the visual experience comes from a vision of the soul, not from an intellectual thought or mind manipulations.
I am trying to explain this experience with words now, and it is not easy to do. To make it easy the best analogy would be of course love. One can certainly use the brain to induce the feeling, but not to create it. We have to find it within ourselves in order to feel it.

You can watch the Charlie Rose interview with Elliot Carter, Daniel Barenboim and James Levine, and here is another interview with Elliot Carter, wishing him a hundred more creative and inspiring years!


Mary Ann Wakeley said...

I couldn't agree more with the music and art connection and share your feelings toward composing art much like music. I especially respond to piano and certain string instruments like violin, cello, and even classical guitar while painting, but even in just painting without music, we certainly create our own, often unaware. I enjoyed what you posted here -- very inspiring. :) xx

Iris said...

Thanks for visiting Mary Ann! I totally can feel in your art the experience I am talking about, being drenched in beautiful colors just like beautiful sounds, a complete pleasure!

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