When Elliott Carter died in November, his obituaries mentioned that he finished his last work, Epigrams for string trio, the previous August. At the symposium I attended in New York February 14, however, John Link told me the work was not quite complete as Carter left it. The notes are all there, and five of the twelve short movements are in final form, but seven of them do not have the dynamics or articulations marked. Allen Edwards is currently editing the piece, preparing it for a premiere over the summer, John said. Edwards is placing his additions in brackets, as suggestions. The final product will be a substanital, twelve- to eighteen-minute piece.
This information makes me wonder about the state of Carter's health during the final two months of his life. If he couldn't be bothered to put the finishing touches the score, he must not have been feeling at all well. I emailed John about it and received this reply:
I saw him last at the French Embassy when he was inducted into the Legion of Honor [Sept. 21 - JB] and he was looking a bit wan. I believe his health deteriorated fairly steadily from there, although I do know he was alert until almost the very end of his life. But I think he realized it was time to go.