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Elliot Carter, Composer, Dies at 103: What Happens to His Music?

Elliot Carter died Monday at the age of 103. Carter, a famous composer, passed away in his Greenwich Village apartment, reports The New York Times.

While his assistant confirmed the death, he didn't disclose the cause of death.

While The Seattle Times describes Carter's music as "difficult to play, difficult to listen to, and... difficult to write," he was one of the most celebrated modern composers of our era.

During his lifetime, his music won him numerous accolades and prizes, including two Pulitzer Prizes and a Grammy.

His music includes opera, ballets and concertos. From 2005 onwards, he was producing work almost every year, writes the Times.

While there are few details on his estate and testaments, one thing is clear: Mr. Carter leaves behind a legacy of music which will carry on through the decades and over generations.

So what happens to such works, once the composer of the music passes away?

It's not uncommon for music composers, songwriters and artists to set up companies that hold the rights to their works. It's unknown whether Elliot Carter had set up such a company, but an Internet search shows that much of his music appears to be owned (or managed) by Boosey & Hawkes.

Assuming that his works belong to the Boosey & Hawkes catalog, the company provides outside parties the ability to obtain a license to use the cataloged music.

For a composer's estate, that usually means that the heirs will benefit from the royalties and fees generated from the use of such music. It all depends, however, on the arrangement that the composer had with the company managing the catalog.

But the wonderful thing about successful art is that the estate continues to benefit from the use of the art.

As for Mr. Carter, little is known about the disposition of his estate. He married Helen Frost-Jones in 1939, but she passed away in 1998. The couple had a son, who is currently alive. Carter also leaves behind a grandson, Alexander.

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