Elliot Carter Sketches for Cello Sonata

Selected Sketches for Cello Sonata: Elliot Carter’s use of the long melodic line Presented by Brian Eisenberg and the Library of Congress

Below is a collection of digitized musical excerpts from original sketches for Elliot Carter’s cello sonata. The sketches were selected from a larger collection of original sketches for the sonata donated to the Library of Congress by Mr. Carter. They were chosen for this collection based on their relevance to Carter’s stylistic use of the long melodic line. In this case with the Cello sonata, Carter’s use of the long line is primarily represented by the main theme in the first movement of the sonata.

Each page chosen for this collection contains at least one passage that was determined to be sketch material for the main theme in the Cello. The page numbers of the chosen sketches on this site are the same as their scanned originals, and each page plays back individually while your cursor follows the score. These digitially engraved sketches allow you to better visualize and auralize Carter's compositional process by comparing each example with the finished sonata.

The pages chosen for this collection are organized by the starting pitch, namely, C, Db, and D. The pages with starting pitch D are further subdivided by instrumentation, some which have piano accompaniment sketch material and some without. Each sketch page has a link above it to its original on the Library of Congress website.

The appendix folder contains additional sketch material for the sonata that reflects Carter's use of the long melodic line, but was determined not to be sketch material for the main theme.

Also below is a link to a performance of the finished sonata. Listen closely to the main theme, and then listen to each of the extracted passages from the sketches. Ultimately Mr. Carter decided to start the main theme on D, but listen to each sketch to hear the compositional development.

This special online presentation is not for sale or download, it is solely for the purpose of educational review. Try and form your own conclusions about how Mr. Carter developed the main theme for the sonata!