This article examines Elliott Carter’s most extensive forays into the theory and practice of musical silence: the 2005 composition Intermittences and the 1957 lecture “Sound and Silence in Time: A Contemporary Approach to the Elements of Music.” Taken together, the piece and the lecture present an opportunity to ask significant questions about the role of silence in Carter’s music. The evaluation of Carter’s lecture in this article situates his understanding of musical silence in the broader context of musical expectation and reveals the influence of Alfred North Whitehead. Analyses of passages from Intermittences clarify the interaction of notational and registral silence in the work. A comparison of four recordings of Intermittences explores how performers realize the work’s notational silences as acoustic ones.

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