Very warm birthday wishes to Milton Babbitt, who turns ninety today. The composer is fêted tonight in a concert at Carnegie's Weill Hall, which includes works from various stages of his vast career. You can get a sense of Babbitt's rapid-fire intellect — entirely undimmed by age, as I can attest from seeing him last week — in this 2001 NewMusicBox interview, which ranges from state of twelve-tone composition to the state of beer. Asked if he steers students in the serialist direction, he says, "God no! I mean who am I to send these people to their death? No, absolutely not. I try to come to terms with what they want to do." The only topic that stumps him is hip-hop: "What is all this scratching of records?" (There is also, I must say, an inexact description of the New Yorker's music issue of 2001.) Difficult only on the surface, Babbitt's music exhibits, like his conversation, a deeply playful view of the world.