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Charles Ives
 
 
 
 
Charles Ives, (born Oct. 20, 1874, Danbury, Conn., U.S.—died May 19, 1954, New York City), significant American composer who is known for a number of innovations that anticipated most of the later musical developments of the 20th century.

Ives received his earliest musical instruction from his father, who was a bandleader, music teacher, and acoustician who experimented with the sound of quarter tones. At 12 Charles played organ in a local church, and two years later his first composition was played by the town band. In 1893 or 1894 he composed “Song for the Harvest Season,” in which the four parts—for voice, trumpet, violin, and organ—were in different keys. That year he began studying at Yale University under Horatio Parker, then the foremost academic composer in the United States. His unconventionality disconcerted Parker, for whom Ives eventually turned out a series of “correct” compositions.

After graduation in 1898, Ives became an insurance clerk and part-time organist in New York City. In 1907 he founded the highly successful insurance partnership of Ives & Myrick, which he headed from 1916 to 1930. He devised the insurance concept of estate planning and considered his years in business a valuable human experience that contributed to the substance of his music. Nearly all his works were written before 1915; many lay unpublished until his death. Chronic diabetes and a hand tremor eventually forced him to give up composing and to retire from business. His music became widely known only in the last years of his life. In 1947 he received the Pulitzer Prize for his Third Symphony (The Camp Meeting; composed 1904–11). His Second Symphony (1897–1902) was first performed in its entirety 50 years after its composition.

Ives’s music is intimately related to American culture and experience, especially that of New England. His compositions—with integrated quotations from popular tunes, revival hymns, barn dances, and classical European music—are frequently works of enormous complexity that freely employ sharp dissonance, polytonal harmonies, and polymetric constructions. He drew from European music what techniques he wished while experimenting with tone clusters, microtonal intervals, and elements of chance in music (in one bassoon part he directs the player to play whatever he wants beyond a specific point). Believing that all sound is potential music, he was somewhat of an iconoclast and occasionally a parodist.

In The Unanswered Question (composed before 1908), a string quartet or string orchestra repeats simple harmonies; placed apart from them, a trumpet reiterates a question-like theme that is dissonantly and confusedly commented upon by flutes (optionally with an oboe or a clarinet). In the second movement of Three Places in New England (also titled First Orchestral Set and A New England Symphony; 1903–14), the music gives the effect of two bands approaching and passing each other, each playing its own melody in its own key, tempo, and rhythm. His monumental Second Piano Sonata (subtitled Concord, Mass., 1840–60), which was written from 1909 to 1915 and first performed in 1938, echoes the spirit of the New England Transcendentalists in its four sections, “Emerson,” “Hawthorne,” “The Alcotts,” and “Thoreau.” It contains tone clusters, quotes Beethoven, and includes a flute obbligato honouring Thoreau’s wish to hear a flute over Walden. The mood of the sonata ranges from wild and dissonant to idyllic and mystical. It was published in 1920, together with Ives’s pamphlet Essays Before a Sonata.

Ives conceived his Second String Quartet (1911–13; composition on second movement begun 1907) as a conversation, political argument, and reconciliation among four men; it is full of quotations from hymns, marches, and Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. His Variations on America (1891; additions before 1894) is the earliest polytonal piece known. In one of his piano and violin sonatas, he adds a passage for trumpet. His 114 Songs (1919–24) for voice and piano vary from ballads to satire, hymns, protest songs, and romantic songs. In technique they range from highly complex (e.g., with tone clusters, polytonality, and atonality) to straightforward and simple.

Other compositions include Central Park in the Dark (1906), for chamber orchestra; General William Booth Enters into Heaven (1914; to Vachel Lindsay’s poem), for soloist or choir and band but also performed in arrangements for chamber orchestra and for voice and piano; and the four-part symphony A Symphony: New England Holidays (“Washington’s Birthday,” 1909, rescored 1913; “Decoration Day,” 1912; “Fourth of July,” 1912–13; and “Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day,” 1904). The Ives manuscripts were given to the Library of the Yale School of Music by his wife, Harmony Ives, in 1955, and a temporary mimeographed catalog was compiled from 1954 to 1960 by pianist John Kirkpatrick.

Encyclopædia Britannica
 
 

 
 
Charles Ives is the true father of twentieth-century American music; his works combine an audacious experimentation in compositional techniques with a deeply felt nostalgia for the music and culture of his boyhood. He was born in Danbury, Connecticut, the son of the local bandmaster. His father was an extraordinary man -whose principles of musical education were anything but conventional.
The variety of experience to be found in a small American town entered the young Ives's memory and sensibility at a profound level, and re-creations of this world pervade his music — of religious
meetings, holidays (with the clashing dissonances of simultaneously heard marching bands), natural scenery, and landscape, even of sports (Ives was a talented athlete, and his piano piece Some southpaw pitching gives the performer's left hand some healthy exercise!).
At 14 Ives became organist at the local Baptist Church, for which he wrote often daring psalm settings and organ music. Such experimentation had to be suppressed during the period from 1894 to 1898 when Ives attended Yale University and had lessons from the conservative Horatio Parker; here he wrote such comparatively decorous works as the First symphony, the First string quartet, and the cantata The celestial country.
On leaving Yale, Ives decided not to embark on a professional career in music but instead went into the insurance business, which he approached with characteristic idealism. Although he was left with only evenings and weekends to compose, he produced in the first 15 years of the century a huge body of radical and remarkable music, most of it unperformed for years. This included orchestral works such as The unanswered question and Central Park in the dark, which required huge forces and two conductors. It also included a large number of songs covering a range of moods from nostalgic sentiment (At the river) to humorous portraits of American life (The circus band, The side
show) to dissonant experimental modernism (Majority).
In 1908 Ives married Harmony Twichell, a nurse described as "the most beautiful girl in Hartford." The following year he began work on his vast Piano sonata No. 2, the "Concord", in which he attempted to portray the spirit of the Transcendentalists, whose ideas and beliefs influenced Ives's own Utopianism. The orchestral Three places in New England, completed in 1914, is one of the most vivid and haunting evocations of Ives's youth. The three movements consist of a meditation on Stephen Foster's song Old black Joe, a re-creation of a festive band meeting, and the impression of hearing a church service from across a river.
In 1918 Ives suffered a heart attack, and with the period of subsequent convalescence, his flow of music gradually dried up until, one day in 1926, in his wife's words, "he came downstairs with tears in his eyes and said he couldn't seem to compose any more — nothing went well — nothing sounded right." Ives lived for another 28 years, however, and had the satisfaction of witnessing performers gradually taking up his works and making him a model for a whole generation of younger composers.
 
 
 
The Best of Charles Ives
 
Ives is one of the first American composers of international renown, though his music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years. Over time, he came to be regarded as an "American original". Ives combined the American popular and church-music traditions of his youth with European art music, and was among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music, with musical techniques including polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatoric elements, and quarter tones, foreshadowing many musical innovations of the 20th century.
Sources of Ives' tonal imagery are hymn tunes and traditional songs, the town band at holiday parade, the fiddlers at Saturday night dances, patriotic songs, sentimental parlor ballads, and the melodies of Stephen Foster. He's been dubbed the greatest American composer by such cultural shapers as Time magazine and Leonard Bernstein - "You've never heard of Charles Ives? That's OK - he wouldn't have cared".

0:00 The Unanswered Question
6:07 Violin Sonata No. 1. II: Largo cantabile
12:03 Violin Sonata No. 3. I. Adagio - Andante - Allegretto - Adagio
24:24 Three Places in New England: Putnam's Camp II
29:46 Three Places in New England: The Housatonic at Stockbridge III
33:54 Symphony No. 2. I: Andante moderato
40:10 Symphony No. 2. V: Allegro molto vivace
50:27 Symphony No. 4. III: Fugue: Andante moderato con moto
57:04 Central Park in the Dark
1:04:21 The Things Our Fathers Loved
1:06:08 Memories
1:08:38 The Circus Band
1:11:40 They are There!
1:14:32 Tom Sails Away
1:17:21 Tone Roads No. 1
1:20:42 Psalm 100
1:22:17 Hallowe'en (from "Three Outdoor Scenes")
1:24:18 Piano Sonata No. 2, Concord, Mass, 1840–60 IV: "Thoreau" (after Henry David Thoreau)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Charles Ives "Symphony No 1" James Sinclair
 
Symphony No 1 by Charles Ives
1. Allegro con moto
2. Adagio molto
3. Scherzo
4. Allegro molto
National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
James Sinclair, conductor
Dublin, 25.IX.2002
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Charles Ives - Symphony No. 2
 
New York Philharmonic
Leonard Bernstein
Date: 1990

Symphony No. 2 was written by Charles Ives between 1897 and 1901. Although the work was composed during Ives' 20s, it was half a century before it premiered, in a 1951 New York Philharmonic concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. The symphony premiered to rapturous applause but Ives responded with ambivalence. Indeed, he did not even attend the concert in person but had to be dragged by family and friends to a neighbor's house to listen to the live radio broadcast. The public performance had been postponed for so long because Ives had been alienated from the American classical establishment. Ever since his training with Horatio Parker at Yale, Ives had suffered their disapproval of the mischievous unorthodoxy with which he radically pushed the boundaries of European classical structures to create soundscapes that recalled the vernacular music-making of his New England upbringing.

Like Ives' other compositions which honor the European and American inheritances, the Second Symphony never makes verbatim quotation of popular American tunes such as "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean", "Camptown Races", "Long, Long Ago", and "America the Beautiful", but reshapes and develops them into broad themes. There is a subdued version of the opening notes of Beethoven's fifth symphony and a rescoring of part of Brahms' first symphony, as well as a reference (early in the first movement) to the chorales of Johann Sebastian Bach. The work is an interesting precedent to another significant piece of the 20th century, Luciano Berio's Sinfonia, which was composed about 65 years later. Ives' 5th movement uses quotation techniques comparable to Berio's in his 3rd movement.

Bernstein's premiere and subsequent interpretations were later widely criticized for taking extravagant liberties with the score. Although the 1951 score itself contained about a thousand errors, Bernstein reportedly also made a substantial cut to the finale, ignored Ives' tempo indications, and prolonged the terminating "Bronx cheer" discord. Many conductors and audiences, influenced by Bernstein's example, have enthusiastically considered the last of these practices one of the trademarks of the piece. In 2000, the Charles Ives Society prepared an official critical edition of the score and authorized a recording by Kenneth Schermerhorn and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra to adhere more closely to Ives' intentions.

Movements:
Andante moderato
Allegro
Adagio cantabile
Lento maestoso
Allegro molto vivace

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Charles Ives - Symphony 3
 
The Symphony No. 3, S. 3 (K. 1A3), The Camp Meeting by Charles Ives was written between 1908 and 1910. In 1947, the symphony was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Ives is reported to have given half the money to Lou Harrison, who conducted the premiere.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Charles Ives Symphony No. 4, BBC Symphony Orchestra/David Robertson, cond./Ralph van Raat, piano
 
Broadcast of the BBC Proms, 2007. Ralph van Raat plays the piano part of Ives' Symphony No.4 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Robertson in the Royal Albert Hall, London.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Charles Ives- A Symphony: New England Holidays
 
A Symphony: New England Holidays, also known as A New England Holiday Symphony or simply a Holiday Symphony, is a composition for orchestra written by Charles Ives. It took Ives from 1897 to 1913 to complete all four movements. The four movements in order are:

I. Washington’s Birthday
II. Decoration Day
III. The Fourth of July
IV. Thanksgiving

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Charles Ives, Three Places in New England.
 
The Three Places in New England (Orchestral Set No. 1) is a composition for orchestra by American composer Charles Ives. It was composed mainly between 1911 and 1914, although sketches for the work date from 1903, and the latest revisions were made in 1929. The piece is famous for its use of musical quotation and paraphrasing. Three Places consists of three movements in Ives' preferred slow-fast-slow movement order:
I. The "St. Gaudens" in Boston Common (Col. Shaw and his Colored Regiment)
II. Putnam's Camp, Redding, Connecticut
III. The Housatonic at Stockbridge
The three movements are ordered with the longest first and the shortest last, and a complete performance of the piece lasts eighteen or nineteen minutes. As he does in his Orchestral Set No. 2, Ives inverts the fast-slow-fast movement order typical of most three-movement works, using instead a slow-fast-slow order.
The piece has become one of Ives' most commonly performed compositions. It exhibits most of the signature traits of his style: layered textures with multiple, sometimes simultaneous melodies, many of which are recognizable hymn and marching tunes; masses of sound including tone clusters; and sudden, sharp textural contrasts.
Each of the three movements is named for a place in New England, USA. Each is intended to make the listener experience the unique atmosphere of the place, as though s/he is there. To that end, Ives' paraphrasing of American folk tunes is a particularly important device, providing the listener with tangible reference points. The intention was to make the music accessible despite its avant-garde chromaticism.
Three Places in New England aims to paint a picture of American ideals, lifestyle and patriotism at the turn of the twentieth century.

BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Nicholas Collon.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Charles Ives - Decoration Day (1912) with listening guide
 
Orange County School of the Arts Symphony Orchestra (Santa Ana, CA)
Christopher Russell, conductor

Recorded June 21, 2015 at Slovak Radio Hall in Bratislava, Slovakia. This was likely the work's first-ever performance in Slovakia.

Composed in 1912, Decoration Day is part of the four-movement work called “Holidays Symphony” with each movement named for an American holiday but each movement can also be played independently. Decoration Day is the holiday to honor those who served in the American military and is now called Memorial Day. The memorial nature of the subject matter is obvious from the opening, which starts somberly and softly (0:30), featuring mostly the strings with occasional solos by the winds representing the early morning of the day with the laying of flowers on graves. A few minutes in, the tempo picks up with the winds quoting the old American song “Marching Through Georgia” (4:20). Here, the sound of distant church bells begins (represented in this performance by chimes, piano and harp) in a rhythm completely different from the rest of the orchestra. The town square begins filling with people and horses (4:43). A string chorale, which is a slowed down version of the Christmas hymn “Adeste Fideles” (5:37) is followed by a duet for trumpet and strings with the offstage trumpet intoning the traditional American military memorial song “Taps” and the strings playing the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee” (7:12) The work builds up to a wild marching band section meant to represent old town amateur bands that sometimes have trouble playing in the right rhythm and even the right key. Here they are playing Reeves' "Second Regiment March" (8:17) A very short coda brings back the somber opening as the violins play the “Amen cadence” as one final memorial (9:37).

 
 
 
 
 
 
     
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