Carter, Elliott (Cook Jr.) (1908–2012) By Ravenscroft, Brenda
Born in 1908 into a wealthy New York City family, Elliott Carter enjoyed a cosmopolitan childhood, spending time in Europe and learning French at an early age. The composer Charles Ives mentored the young Carter, taking him to concerts in New York and encouraging his developing interest in music. Carter’s childhood, characterized by immersion in a culturally enriched environment and exposure to the modern world, provided the elements from which his artistic aesthetic and musical language would later be forged. When Carter entered Harvard College, he focused his studies on English literature, Greek, and philosophy, although musical activities continued in the form of lessons with Walter Piston and Gustav Holst, as well as singing with the Harvard Glee Club. Carter completed a master’s degree in music at Harvard in 1932, after which he moved to Paris to study composition with Nadia Boulanger for three years. He received a doctorate in music from the École Normale de Musique in Paris in 1935.