Born in Danbury, Connecticut on October 20, 1874, Charles Ives pursued what is perhaps one of the most extraordinary and paradoxical careers in American music history. Businessman by day and composer by night, Ives’s vast output has gradually brought him recognition as the most original and significant American composer of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, Ives sought a highly personalized musical expression through the most innovative and radical technical means possible. A fascination with bi-tonal forms, poly rhythms, and quotation was nurtured by his father who Ives would later acknowledge as the primary creative influence on his musical style. Ironically, much of Ives’s work would not be heard until his virtual retirement from music and business in 1930 due to severe health problems.
The conductor Nicolas Slonimsky, music critic Henry Bella mann, pianist John Kirkpatrick, and the composer Lou Harrison (who conducted the premiere of the Symphony No. 3) played a key role in introducing Ives’s music to a wider audience. Henry Cowell was perhaps the most significant figure in fostering public and critical attention for Ives’s music, publishing several of the composer’s works in his New Music Quarterly. The American composer Charles Ives learned a great deal from his bandmaster father, George Ives, and a love of the music of Bach. At the same time he was exposed to a variety of very American musical influences, later reflected in his own idiosyncratic compositions. Ives was educated at Yale and made a career in insurance, reserving his activities as a composer for his leisure hours.
How does Black music and culture function as a part of American Popular culture? I think that the question suggests the enormity of the range and scope of the African-American experience in the New World over the last several hundred years and of his African ancestors before that. In order to address the question we must examine the nature of a couple of things. One of those is certainly what it ...
Ironically, by the time that his music had begun to arouse interest, his own inspiration and energy as a composer had waned, so that for the last thirty years of his life he wrote little, while his reputation grew. The symphonies of Ives include music essential American in inspiration and adventurous in structure and texture, collages of America, expressed in a musical idiom that makes use of complex polytonality (the use of more than one key or tonality at the same time) and rhythm. Symphony No. 3, reflects much of Ives’s own background, carrying the explanatory title “Camp Meeting” and movement titles “Old Folks Gatherin'”, “Children’s Day” and “Communion.” Symphony No. 4 includes a number of hymns and Gospel songs, and his so-called First Orchestral Set, otherwise known as New England Symphony, depicts three places in New England.
Much of the earlier organ music written by Ives from the time of his student years, when he served as organist in a number of churches, found its way into later compositions. The second of his two piano sonatas, Concord, Mass. 1840 – 60, has the characteristic movement titles “Emerson”, “Hawthorne”, “The Alcott’s” and “Thoreau”, a very American literary celebration. The first of the two string quartets of Ives has the characteristic title “From the Salvation Army” and is based on earlier organ compositions, while the fourth of his four violin sonatas depicts “Children’s Day at the Camp Meeting.” Ives wrote a number of psalm settings, part-songs and verse settings for unison voices and orchestra.
In his many solo songs he set verses ranging from Shakespeare, Goethe and Heine to Whitman and Kipling, with a number of texts of his own creation. Relatively well known songs by Ives include “Shall We Gather at the River”, “The Cage” and “The Side-Show.” In 1947, Ives was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Symphony No. 3, according him a much deserved international renown. Soon after, his works were taken up and championed by such leading conductors as Leonard Bernstein. At his death in 1954, he had witnessed a rise from obscurity to a position of unsurpassed eminence among the world’s leading performers and musical institutions. Swaffork, Jan.
Beatles Music: Songs of the Counterculture The 1960's are thought of by many to be the most eventful and changing decade in the history of America. In this time period there was much excitement as well as turmoil in America caused by many factors, including the charismatic leadership of John F. Kennedy, black leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. protesting for civil rights and Malcolm X preaching ...
The Vintage Guide to Classical Music. “Charles Ives” New York: Random House Inc. 1992.