Elliott Carter dies aged 103

6 November 2012, 09:38 | Updated: 6 November 2012, 09:55

The Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer known for his avant-garde music died in New York last night.

Elliott Carter died yesterday at his home in New York City at the age of 103. Famous for his avant-garde, boundary-breaking music, he continued to compose well into his eleventh decade, completing his last piece in August 2012.

Born in New York in 1908, he became acquainted with American compositional legends including Charles Ives. He studied with Nadia Boulanger, a leading figure in 20th century composition who taught Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland.

He won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1960 for his String Quartet No. 2, and won his second award in 1973 for his String Quartet No. 3. Despite these awards, his music continued to divide opinion.

"I don't think it means anything to be popular," he said. "When we see the popular tastes and the popular opinion constantly being manipulated by all sorts of different ways, it seems to me popularity is a meaningless matter."

On turning 100, he recalled attending the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in New York in 1924, where half of the audience walked out. He said it seemed more exciting than Beethoven and Brahms.

He is survived by his son and grandson.