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Charles Ives (10/20/1874 - 5/19/1954)

The American composer Charles Ives learned a great deal from his bandmaster father, not least 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. 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.

Orchestral Music

The symphonies of Ives include music essentially American in inspiration and adventurous in structure and texture, collages of Americana, 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. The Third Symphony, for small orchestra, reflects much of Ives’s own background, carrying the explanatory title ‘The Camp Meeting’ and movement titles ‘Old Folks Gatherin’’, ‘Children’s Day’ and ‘Communion’. The Fourth Symphony includes a number of hymns and gospel songs, and his so-called First Orchestral Set, otherwise known as ‘A New England Symphony’, depicts three places in New England.

Chamber Music



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