Elliott Carter (1908-2012)

On Conversing with Paradise (2008)

for baritone and ensemble

  • General information
    • Composition date: 2008
    • Duration: 20 mn
    • Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
    • Libretto (details, author):

      Ezra Pound

Detailed formation
  • soloist: solo baritone
  • flute, clarinet (also bass clarinet), bass clarinet (also contrabass clarinet), horn, 5 percussionists, piano, 2 violins, 2 second violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, 2 double basses

Premiere information

  • Date: 20 June 2009

    Royaume-Uni, Aldeburgh, Snape Maltings


    Leigh Melrose : baryton, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, direction : Oliver Knussen.

Program note

Ezra Pound, one of America’s leading poets and influences in the early twentieth century, lived in Italy during the Second World War. During that time he was occasionally allowed by the Fascist controlled radio to broadcast in English his rather fanatical ideas that the American bankers and banking system was destroying the US, a country he loved. When the American Army liberated Italy he was arrested as a traitor and imprisoned in a camp hear Pisa where he continued to write Cantos that he had worked on for most of his life. Later, at his trial in Washington, D.C. he was declared insane and interned at St. Elizabeth’s Asylum, during which time he was visited by many of the most respected American poets.

I have set parts of Canto 81 and 120, where he despairs of not having written the perfect poem, which to him was paradise.

My title is a quote from William Blake that Pound considered as a title for an early book of his own poems.

Elliott Carter.