American composer Elliott Carter is destined to receive France's highest level of distinction, Commander of the Legion of Honor. Carter, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, is still actively writing music at the age of 103.
Carter's early music was written in the neoclassic style and is quite accessible, comparable to Samuel Barber's style of writing. His music post 1950 turns to a more atonal style with notoriously complex rhythms.
As a young musician focused in the classical field, this gives me hope
to see that contemporary composers are still being distinguished for
their work in progressing "our" field of study. Part of my reason for taking this class was to familiarize myself with contemporary composers who are the pioneers in our field (i.e. "The Future of Classical Music"). Though I must say that I am not as familiar with Carter's works as I would like to admit, it is heartening to young composers to see that their role models in the field are awarded for the contributions to the field.
I believe this distinction makes the general public aware of Mr. Carter's accomplishments. For instance, after reading this article, I was immediately inclined to go and familiarize myself with some of Carter's famous works. I was particularly struck by the opening of his First String Quartet and his interestingly scored Symphony of Three Orchestras (actually scored for three ensembles).
This brings me to my final thought. While it seems to be that finding an appreciation for contemporary classical music among the general public has been increasingly difficult due to the influx of other musical styles, it can be said that with such an increase in technological resources (streaming concerts online, general news of concerts, etc.) that classical music is also more accessible than ever. I guess there has to be a balance in everything.