Charles Ives and his Road to the Stars

Antony Cooke's picture
TitleCharles Ives and his Road to the Stars
Publication TypeBook
Year of PublicationSubmitted
Authors
Number of Pages428
PublisherEstrella/CreateSpace
CityCapistrano Beach, CA
ISBN10: 1479187550
ISBN Number13: 978-1479187553
Full Text

 


12.0pt;line-height:150%;font-family:"Baskerville Old Face"”>CHARLES IVES


12.0pt;line-height:150%;font-family:"Baskerville Old Face"”>and his


12.0pt;line-height:150%;font-family:"Baskerville Old Face"”> ROAD TO THE STARS


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"Baskerville Old Face"”>A New Interpretation, Assessment and Guide to the Music and the Man


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12.0pt;line-height:150%;font-family:"Baskerville Old Face"”>Antony Cooke


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"Baskerville Old Face"”>Estrella Books


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Helvetica;mso-hansi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"”>Copyright
"Arial Unicode MS";mso-ascii-font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>©
Helvetica;mso-hansi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"”> 2012 Antony Cooke

Helvetica”>Updated in 2015

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Helvetica;mso-hansi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"”>All rights reserved.

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Helvetica;mso-hansi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"”>ISBN-13: 978-1479187553

Helvetica;mso-hansi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"”>ISBN-10: 1479187550

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mso-hansi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"”>Cover Photography

 

Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689, courtesy of NASA @ nasaimages.org

1947 Portrait of Charles Ives, by Frank Gerratana, with appreciation

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 12.0pt;line-height:115%”>CONTENTS

 

 

 

Foreword by Johnny Reinhard                                                                                                    

 

 

Author’s Introduction and Acknowledgements                                                 

 

 

Preface                                                                                                                     

   

                         

Chapter 1               

The makeup of the man                                                                                                          
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line-height:115%”>Ives in his time                                                                                                                               

line-height:115%;tab-stops:410.0pt”>Ives in our time                                                                                                                                                                                        

line-height:115%”>The psychoanalyst’s couch

line-height:115%”>Dashed idealism: Ives’s lone journey to the stars

line-height:115%”>Knowing Ives through his music

 line-height:115%”>The isolationist

line-height:115%”>A career in music?

line-height:115%”>Henry Cowell, and the awakening

line-height:115%”>Ives the craftsman

 

 

Chapter 2

The music

line-height:115%”>Danbury Years (1874-1894)

line-height:115%”>Ives the dreamer

line-height:115%”>Respectability as a musician

line-height:115%”>The key to the new sounds

The developing model

Multiple orbits

line-height:115%”>The “lily pads”

 

 

Chapter 3


normal”>Originality and influences
                                                                                                          

line-height:115%”>On the use of musical quotations           

line-height:115%”>Links to other music

line-height:115%”>A musical radical

line-height:115%”>The “isms” of music

The pioneer working alone

Ives’s counterpoint

line-height:115%”>The makeup of the music

line-height:115%”>Folk, popular, Civil War music

 line-height:115%”>Church music

line-height:115%”>The European model

The experimental model

 

 

line-height:115%”>Chapter 4

line-height:115%”>Early symphonic ventures

line-height:115%”>The European symphonic model

line-height:115%”>The First Symphony

line-height:115%”>The Second Symphony

 line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

 

 

line-height:115%”>Chapter 5

line-height:115%”>The Third Symphony
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(
normal”>“The Camp Meeting”
)

 line-height:115%”>Timeline

A link to the symphony: Fugue in Four Keys: on “The Shining Shore”

line-height:115%”>The music of the symphony

line-height:115%”>Comparisons with other symphonies of the period

 line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

line-height:115%”>The significance of the Third Symphony

 

 

line-height:115%”>Chapter 6

line-height:115%”>Ives the innovator

Music in space and time

Early innovations

The timeline

Innovative miniatures

line-height:115%”>
normal”>First Set for Chamber Orchestra

line-height:115%”>Paving the road to the stars

line-height:115%”>
normal”>The Unanswered Question (a Cosmic Landscape)

 line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

line-height:115%”>
normal”>Central Park in the Dark

 line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

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line-height:115%”>Chapter 7

line-height:115%”>Ives in Danbury

line-height:115%”>
normal”>The Symphony of Holidays

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 normal”>Washington’s Birthday

Listeners’ guide

Decoration Day

Listeners’ guide

The Fourth of July

 line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day

 line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

 

 

line-height:115%”>Chapter 8

line-height:115%”>The Songs

line-height:115%”>Selected Songs over the course of Ives’s most productive years

When Stars are in the Quiet Skies

From “Amphion”

line-height:115%”>Tarrant Moss

line-height:115%”>Hymn

line-height:115%”>The Cage

line-height:115%”>Watchman

Like a Sick Eagle

The Indians

So may it be! (The Rainbow)

line-height:115%”>September

line-height:115%”>Afterglow

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line-height:115%”>Chapter 9

line-height:115%”>The Concord Sonata

Listeners’ guide

line-height:115%”>Emerson

line-height:115%”>Hawthorne

line-height:115%”>The Alcotts.

line-height:115%”>Thoreau

 

 

line-height:115%”>Chapter 10

line-height:115%”>The Fourth Symphony

 line-height:115%”>Parallel thoughts

line-height:115%”>Ives’s mature counterpoint

First movement: Prelude

Listeners’ guide

Second movement: Scherzo

Listeners’ guide

Third movement: Fugue

Listeners’ guide

Fourth movement: Finale

Listeners’ guide

 

 

line-height:115%”>Chapter 11

line-height:115%”>The Universe Symphony

line-height:115%”>The challenge for the listener

line-height:115%”>Why Ives did not finish the symphony, and the “Ives Legend”

line-height:115%”>The real purpose behind the words

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line-height:115%”>Chapter 12

line-height:115%”>Resurrecting the symphony

line-height:115%”>The sketch materials

line-height:115%”>Paving the road for the listener

line-height:115%”>The three orchestras

line-height:115%”>All components together

line-height:115%”>Realizations of the Universe Symphony

 line-height:115%”>Microtones

line-height:115%”>The story behind Reinhard’s realization

line-height:115%”>The difficulties of realization and the Ives sound

 

 

line-height:115%”>Chapter 13

line-height:115%”>A listeners’ guide to the Universe Symphony

line-height:115%”>I: Fragment: Earth Alone (also later: Heavens music fragment)

II: Prelude #1—Pulse Of The Cosmos

line-height:115%;tab-stops:0in”>III: Section A—Wide Valleys And Clouds

line-height:115%;tab-stops:0in”>The matter of the correct tempo

IV: Prelude #2—Birth Of The Oceans

V: Section B—Earth and the Firmament

VI: Prelude #3—And Lo, Now It Is Night

margin-left:0in;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;line-height:
115%;mso-outline-level:1”>VII: Section C—Earth Is Of The Heavens

line-height:115%;tab-stops:0in”>Is Reinhard’s realization the Symphony of Ives’s imagination?

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line-height:115%”>Appendix 1

line-height:115%”>Revising Ives

line-height:115%”>The “Ives Legend”

line-height:115%”>Questions of veracity

line-height:115%”>The dates and other irregularities

line-height:115%”>Putnam’s Camp

 line-height:115%”>Common sense

line-height:115%”>Issues of mortality

line-height:115%”>Cultivating the new avant-garde in America.

line-height:115%”>A question of deceit

 line-height:115%”>Psychobiographies

line-height:115%”>Four years of study with Parker: a controversy settled

 line-height:115%”>Summing up

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line-height:115%”>Appendix 2

line-height:115%”>The Universe Symphony Sketches

 line-height:115%”>General notes

 line-height:115%”>Section A

 line-height:115%”>Section B

line-height:115%”>The “lost” prelude & the mysterious Section C

Additional notes regarding the succeeding Patches 51 – 54

 

 

Index

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 115%”>FOREWORD

 

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115%”>Many of us have realized that Charles Ives is a bit of a mystery to practically all Americans. It is said only one percent recognize his name, and half of that one percent know him only as a life insurance innovator. Bumping into his Memos at the North Carolina School of the Arts college music library, and later at the Lincoln Center Music Library, only drove my curiosity further, initiated by several memorable encounters with his music. But curiosity can only flow when unimpeded.

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115%”>There is so much disinformation to impede knowledge of this great American composer. Ives lived in a different era, difficult to interpret from our 21st Century vantage point. However, besides the usual difficulties of obtaining records and by interviewing those who knew him personally, there has been a societal rejection based primarily on misinformation. We have long passed Rollo’s antagonism to challenging listening (Rollo was Ives’s fictitious name for arrogant music writers who were deaf to what he hoped to achieve) living at a time in which it is now quite comfortable to listen to “noise” music served at high decibels.

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115%”>The faux Ives “redating crisis” is one example, the excessive costs levied by publishers for permission to perform Ives’s music is another, and the pretense doubting the existence of a full Universe Symphony is still yet another example of the widespread numbing of curiosity for Charles Ives.

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115%”>Ives is typically relegated to the right (although he was very generous to the left). He was tarred a cranky Yankee, although he was America’s most generous philanthropist in music. The complexity of Charles Ives requires an appreciation of the artist’s musical sensibilities, as well as his philosophical explorations expounded in sound.

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115%”>Antony Cooke was seemingly born to this task. He combines a rich musical inheritance with a life long fascination with the universe. I guess it was only a matter of time before our author enthusiastically grasped the complexity of Ives and set to create a narrative that is refreshingly believable. It is to Antony Cooke’s great credit that Ives appears once again a flesh and blood human being, quite a turnaround for a man infamously rewritten.

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115%”>Working through unfinished music compositions had been a particular focus of mine over many years. Solving puzzles necessary to finish compositions that “ask” to be finished, such as Psalm 51 by Mordecai Sandberg, and Simfony in Free Style by Lou Harrison, was a regular function of my role as Director of the American Festival of Microtonal Music in New York City (since 1981).

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115%”>The Universe Symphony is the only piece I know of, throughout the entire annals of known history, that specifically “asks” for another composer to finish a huge work. Immediately after my realization of the Universe Symphony by Charles Ives was premiered in Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City on June 6, 1996, I believed it to be the composer’s magnum opus.

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115%”>It just did not make sense to me to deny Ives his explicit directions, not if one feels that being authentic is a good trait to have. The tempo is the singular tempo indicated by Ives of a quarter note = 30 on the first measure of the first page of the “Earth Orchestra”; no instrument was exchanged in the orchestration; and all the material you hear, and see in the score is what Ives left for us in perpetuity. It was all one grand plan. Nothing was lost, a position contrary to all the assorted academics. I made certain that I left open all of my procedures, along with a Finale score of my manuscript of Ives’s sketches, and a book. No “new” notes were added to the score

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115%”>But since this flew in the face of what the public had been able to detect, it was immediately deemed “controversial,” with each music critic focused upon completely different points from one another; displaying a veritable rainbow of next generation Rollos, albeit a much more accepting bunch.

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115%”>The media seemed to enjoy the “controversy” stew, keeping things perpetually vague. I recall an early morning radio interview on WNYC given by the station head, wherein he lunged into whether or not my realization should be considered Ives at all! (I thought we had already covered that territory before we went to air.) Years later, I understand a bit better the pervasive mire that is our collective inheritance of the genius of Charles Edward Ives.

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115%”>A century ago, Ives was trying to understand his place in the universe, and he accomplished this mission with both humility and creativity. Who is to say that the “unanswered question” is not meant to give an eventual answer, but only after a certain life journey is taken? Ives’s Transcendental imagination was apparently too huge for the industry leading Finale™ notation program to account for in the “modern” age. The inputting of the
normal”>Universe Symphony
in Finale™ did not allow for its three orchestras—Earth, Heaven, Pulse of the Cosmos— to be set in three different meters, resulting in massive paste-ups, and multiple scannings.

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115%”>My great idea for the studio recording produced by Michael Thorne (Stereo Society 2004) was to make a connection with the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s Museum of Natural History. It always excites me to imagine seeing the universe before me while listening to the Universe Symphony. I had a taste of that when a now defunct Italian website matched the colorful Hubble photos with selections from the recording. It worked fantastically, a visual extravaganza with the music akin to the soundtrack to a silent film, even though the photographed astral bodies did not always correspond exactly with the composer’s designations. (Disney could probably work wonders through the cartoon medium.)

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Perhaps with the publication of Charles Ives and his Road to the Stars, the exceptional human being C.E.I.(Charles Edward Ives) can come out of the historical shadows. Most important to this success was to connect the dots throughout his diverse idealistic endeavors, the fruits of Ives’s musical labors. And finally someone has looked deeply into the material with the correct “prescription lenses,” someone who has effectively dodged the metaphoric land mines of false authorities, and who can explain the good news to the general public about the great wealth of their collective musical inheritance.

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line-height:115%”>Johnny Reinhard

line-height:115%”>October 1, 2012

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>Author’s Introduction and Acknowledgements

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>(for the 2015 edition)


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line-height:115%;color:black;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>In the aftermath of completing what turned out to be a monumental undertaking—Charles Ives's Musical Universe (forthcoming 2015)—I could not help but return to my first excursion about my favorite composer—Charles Ives and his Road to the Stars—to take a second look. At the time I wrote it, I was excited to be writing about a figure who had loomed large in my life, though inexplicably had begun it while still engaged on another book—Astronomy and the Climate Crisis—and, I should add, almost foolishly while starting out on the massive excursion of my second Ives book (the first title listed above), which fulfilled a role for which I had waited in vain for someone else to undertake!

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line-height:115%”>First, a detaila late concession to the late John Kirkpatrick: the replacing of the plural/possessive Ives’ by Ives’s. Perhaps I will be forgiven (especially by the good Kirkpatrick, from wherever in eternity he might look down) if I include here George Ives’s own verdict in the argument—had only he been aware that there was one! Taken from one of his sketchbooks, across the entire centerfold, he inscribed in huge writing:

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 normal”>“G.E. Ives’

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normal”>Place for music”

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line-height:115%”>Despite the fact that “s’s” grates on the very tradition of the English language I was taught, it has become accepted within Ives scholarship. I resisted this form of the word my entire life, but was persuaded to adopt it for the more academically oriented text of
normal”>Charles Ives’s Musical Universe
, and have similarly now incorporated it here. So Kirkpatrick’s ruling—“Ives’s”—stands! Concerning more important things, although I believe Charles Ives and his Road to the Stars fulfilled its intended role (mostly for the non-musician previously left in the dark about approaching the thorny musical essays of the composer), it also fulfilled its role for me. After nearly a lifetime, finally I was putting some thoughts on the page about putting words on the page about a person, who, for me, and whose music, previously had inhabited a world only of unspoken comprehension. Continued intensive immersion in all things Ives changes one’s perspective, too; what seemed three-dimensional once has become five-dimensional in the interim. As I view it now, it was a mixed success, and in need of an update. Thus, I could not leave the Road to the Stars alone.

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>The original idea to write the first book about Charles Ives came about by accident, or should I say, by sheer good fortune.
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mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>Introduced to Ives by my close friend of early years growing up in England, the distinguished composer and conductor Oliver Knussen, my initial impressions of Ives were of utter incredulity. Attending one of the first performances of his Fourth Symphony in the mid-sixties at the Royal Albert Hall, London, with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Gunther Schuller, at the time I did not appreciate what I was privileged to hear and witness. I remember laughing aloud during the second movement. Perhaps Ives would have approved, because this was, after all, the “comedy” movement—a romp. However, I am not proud to admit that I was laughing
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Ives, not with him. At that time, I was just another personification of Ives’s perennial favorite verbal target, “Rollo,” the character he borrowed from Jacob Abbott’s popular series of books from the nineteenth century
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"”>, whose predictable good boy sensibilities were always assured.

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color:black”>But then it happened. I was hooked, even though I did not know it yet. Days later, I had to buy the recording. It was the one by Leopold Stokowski and the American Symphony Orchestra, the first and still, in my view, the best. (The concertmaster of the orchestra at the time, Murray Adler, had long moved from New York and been working in Hollywood many years before I entered the same industry. Only recently did I discover that the beautiful solos on the recording were by him. I told him that there is a short clip from the recording sessions on YouTube; Murray looked exactly the same more than 45 years earlier! Showing him my old score of the symphony that Oliver had brought back for me to England from New York (quite something to have in those days), he memorialized it by inscribing it.) Before I knew it I was a convert, but that is now about fifty years ago. Just a year or two earlier, in that same venue I had been present at the 1963, fiftieth anniversary performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring—with Stravinsky present and Pierre Monteaux conducting. What an auspicious occasion! However, in hindsight I am not sure which one of these two monumental musical happenings was bigger in my life. But it was probably Ives.

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was about as far removed from Charles Ives as anything possibly could be; well, almost—because both seem to share a common connection to the stars.
color:black”> By happenstance and coincidence I had stumbled into writing it. Dr. Fred Watson, Astronomer in Charge at the Australian National Observatory, and I began corresponding, following his kind interest in writing the foreword to the astronomy book. We found that we had a vibrant mutual interest. By sheer accident, my profession in music accompanied my other primary interest, astronomy, and Fred’s profession, astronomy, accompanied his other primary interest,
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; we stumbled into something we never saw coming.

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11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>Before long we were emailing regularly and sending each other CD’s of “space music,” ranging from the music of William Herschel (that
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who ended up an astronomer!), Morton Lauridsen, even, yes…Charles Ives. It turned out that we “discovered” the
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together. Despite having been such a long time Ives buff, somehow I had let Ives’s magnum opus escape me. The recording of the Universe Symphony, long an icon of Ives’s unrealized vision, had only come into being in recent years. When first I heard Ives’s Universe I didn’t know quite what to make of it. I remember putting it aside and thinking to myself, “well, at least I’ve heard it.” Perhaps dear Fred still curses me for pushing him into such an aural hazard zone.

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11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>However, it happened again. Once heard, this piece, too, lured me back for “just one more” hearing, possessing that unique and powerful Ives hook I had run into with the Fourth Symphony. And so it went. The hearings became addictive; for a period of time I could not stop listening to it. Naturally getting my hands on the score, and the book documenting its realization and assembly was next. Understanding Ives’s Universe became almost an obsession; I scoured every detail of everything I could find. By then it had become abundantly clear what it was all about.

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11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>Suddenly, I found myself starting the present book; I just knew I had to do it. It was clear that Ives had traveled a musical journey
11.0pt;line-height:115%”>to reach a remote
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>spiritual destiny, of which not even he seemed aware, but it had defined his entire compositional output.
color:black”> It appears he spent twenty years in search of some otherworld idealistic destination where all mankind could live in freedom, peace, openness and caring, free of dictators and ruthless politicians—in short, his Transcendental Nirvana. With the Universe Symphony he found it, even if he never found its parallel on Earth, although his idyllic home in West Redding must have seemed awfully close.

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11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>Along my own journey, this book gave me a chance to reflect, and to weigh in on what I have long considered to be some questionable theories and assumptions made over the years about America’s true original composer, and for my money, the most interesting in all twentieth century music. For many Ives enthusiasts, perhaps this writer, too, adding “greatest,” even “America’s twentieth century Beethoven,” seems increasingly appropriate, even mandatory. But unlike Beethoven, Ives still is not a household name. Many concertgoers remain perplexed by Ives’s music, because they do not know how to respond to music that neither soothes the ears nor explains itself easily. As in the best things in life, some effort is required to access it. And the fact remains that most concertgoers still have not yet accepted music from much beyond the nineteenth century. More serious is the deterioration of awareness today about higher cultural things; most people are completely unaware of the world of so-called “serious” music, and even if they are, regard it as something stuffy and snobbish—more akin to the Emperor's new clothes, or strictly for elitists and academics “in their ivory towers.” Ives’s earlier hopes for an increasingly elevated state of culture from the population were dashed even during his lifetime. It is hard to know how he would react to things today, but we can only imagine!

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11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>An amusing anecdote experienced by the writer recently illustrates the situation well, as well as two parallel realities. In a discussion at a local restaurant with an acquaintance about the once dominant European musical culture, and how it had dissipated during the twentieth century—as well as the degeneration of western culture in general—my acquaintance struggled to name a composer from that great era, whose music he told me he had just heard on the radio.

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>“His name began with an M, I think.”

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>“Gustav Mahler?,” I inquired.

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>“No, something like Monti…something.”

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>“You mean, Monteverdi?

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>“No, Manfredi, Manatini, or something…”

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>“Can’t place it, I’m afraid.”

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>“It was real pretty music.”

color:black”>  That was my clue.

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>“Mantovani?”

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>“YES, that’s him; wonderful! There’s nobody like that anymore!”

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>Of course I should have expected this. In almost rapid-fire succession, the same person followed up to chide me for not realizing that Roger Williams was a classical pianist. Humorous as this is, it would have made Ives sad. His worst fears came true; culturally, things may be worse now than they were in Ives’s time. Although there is a following for contemporary “classical” music, the actual number of enlightened members of the public seems to be falling. We can witness this by the disappearing orchestras and recital series, victims of lower concert attendance and often-imperious (dare I say, greedy?) management, only to be replaced by surviving organizations and featured “social media” events, which recycle the same old chestnuts to an increasingly unsophisticated musical public. However, many of us will continue to persevere, in the hope that the kind of society that Ives dreamed about could still come to pass. Our fingers are crossed.

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11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>Special thanks are long overdue to Oliver Knussen, for having started it all (and whom I know recently had what I would imagine to be a near out-of-body experience having actually played Ives’s piano in his West Redding homestead studio), Fred Watson for having fired me up about all things connected to “space music,” and Johnny Reinhard for bringing Ives’s’ ultimate musical destiny into the bright light of day, along with all his generous contributions to this book. But mostly thanks are due to Ives himself.

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 line-height:115%”>Antony Cooke

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 12.0pt;line-height:115%”>PREFACE

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A galactic supernova (at bottom left)

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Image courtesy NASA/ESA, The Hubble Key Project Team

and The High-Z Supernova Search Team

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115%”>Near the beginning of his book, Essays before a Sonata, Charles Ives remarked that his Transcendentalist hero, Ralph Waldo Emerson, had traveled a road looking for his star.1 Through a musical extension of the same philosophy, Ives would travel down that road to find his own star amongst the myriads of others claimed by the souls who had preceded him. Over the course of an astonishing creative period that flared up like a supernova in the New England “skies”—a prolific explosion of fast evolving musical language and composition—it shone brightly and then it was gone. Charles Ives would stop writing forever, leaving his greatest masterpiece unfinished and in disarray, but not before he had found his star—a place of inner peace, where he could reconcile himself to a changing world and walk in the company of those who had helped to pave his way. Despite many attempts by some to rationalize the entire phenomenon, did they miss the clues?

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115%”>Charles Ives’s America


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line-height:115%”>Charles Edward Ives was born in 1874 in Danbury, Connecticut, a typical country town of its day steeped in New England tradition. The influences of its quaint provincial culture would remain a pivotal force in Ives’s view of the world throughout his life. Although he would leave Danbury to embrace a new century, a far larger world, ultimately even the cosmos, and pioneered some of most radical musical futurism along the way, he clung to his old world upbringing and values. It was a curious apparent contradiction, since effectively he had his feet firmly planted in two centuries and two ways of life, though pointed towards a distant destination that would transcend them both into a third century and beyond.

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115%”>A product of the post-Civil War era, Ives was an independent spirit belonging to his moment in time and space. The cessation of war and America’s booming emergence was expected to bequeath its survivors the promise of a new land of freedom and opportunity.
line-height:115%”>In Charles Ives’s America, that survivor was his father, who instilled his own thoroughly nineteenth century outlook and culture in his son. However, Ives would build on his father’s legacy through the Transcendental philosophies that had emanated from its protagonists in Concord, Massachusetts to provide a grand new vision for that new society, and that had filtered down through his family. Uniquely American, Ives’s music spoke to the evolving culture of his country, its unique voice authentically reflecting a spiritual foundation free from the old world domination of the European empire states. Immensely appealing to Ives, Transcendentalism created further contradictions in his philosophical outlook, as he determined to bridge the divide between it and another extreme: the special brand of provincial religiosity that he had witnessed and experienced firsthand at revival meetings.

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115%”>Thus, diverse and sometimes opposite, Ives’s passions thus were preordained largely by his surroundings, but nevertheless they came together at a unique time and place in history to pave what we can more appropriately symbolize as “Charles Ives’s road to the Stars.” If he were to be satisfied merely with following tradition in the footsteps of those who had come and gone before, then his search for the fulfillment of his vision of the New World would have come up empty handed, and resulted in just a continuation of the old order. Thus, to reach his destination would entail a journey through personal experience, an American journey that was largely instrumental for his unique perspectives and creativity.

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115%”>That Ives’s own vision for America and the world did not turn out the way he had dreamed drove him ever harder to find the ultimate realm in eternity, where he could keep his lost dreams alive in the distant place he glimpsed ever-clearer in his mind, guided by the key influences in his life.

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George Ives

line-height:115%”>The leading figure in Ives’s early years, his father’s role shone brightly in his son’s eyes. So bright was his presence that Ives later would credit him for anything good that he had done in music. It is fair to say that George Ives had much more talent than ability to find employment—that is, beyond eking out a living in a provincial industrial town as a bandleader, miscellaneous musician and teacher. However, an undistinguished musical career had begun auspiciously during the Civil War, when apparently he found a degree of self-respect as a bandsman in the Union Army, reputedly having played for Lincoln. In an unfortunate incident, he destroyed his cornet and asked to be discharged from the band, then went absent without leave; he was court martialed by a relative, so all ended well, but nevertheless, his son would try to erase the shame by elevating his memory—through his real achievements as a musician and mentor. Sharing his father’s traditions, musical knowledge and penchant for experimentation, increasingly Ives would revere his father’s influence over the years, as he realized the powerful start it had given him. Irrespective of the reluctance of some historians to fully accept George Ives’s role relative to the elitely urbane circles that he would encounter later, Ives did owe his key foundations to his father. The bond between them was so strong that in the years following George Ives’s untimely passing—just after the youthful Charles had entered Yale—it seemed he would spend the rest of his life in search of the place in eternity he thought his father might occupy.

 

George Ives


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11.0pt;line-height:115%”>The epitome of small town America, Ives’s many happy memories growing up there tinged most of his musical output with what appears to be a yearning for something lost. Although Danbury's cultural life revolved around historic traditions, its musical activities were dominated by “society ladies,” a fact that probably was behind Ives’s youthful view that music was too feminine to consider for a career, as well as a lifelong revulsion of “pretty” sounds in music. His father’s own lowly status within that society presumably also had something to do with it.

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 color:black”>Camp Meetings

line-height:115%”>The old time revivalist camp meetings were part of the local tradition, in which George Ives often performed while leading the congregation. The music and passion of these assemblies greatly impacted the young impressionable Ives, and would play a significant role in his own work, no less than a wide range of other religious music up to the highest of high church. Famously drawing upon musical quotations, Ives would turn increasingly towards religious sources, his later most profound works increasingly featuring these melodies to the exclusion of lay origins. It seems no coincidence that Nearer My God to Thee (Bethany) would feature ever more prominently in his music, and would be the final hymn he would quote in any significant work.

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The Civil War

line-height:115%”>The war between the North and the South provided the historic backdrop to Ives’s nineteenth century America, relayed through his father and his experiences. In Ives’s world, it was the defining event of the century. Its influence can be seen in practically everything that he wrote, especially in the melodic quotations, and projections of heroic fighting for the cause of democracy and freedom.

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 color:black”>New England

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11.0pt;line-height:115%”>New England culture and tradition was as much a state of being as it was a region of the country. Here the ways of the “old” America were firmly entrenched, supplying Ives with a near limitless resource of deeply held cultural attitudes, traditions and optimism, inspiration afforded by its varied and colorful landscapes, as well as historical associations of the country’s founding.

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Yale Years                                                                                                                      

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none”>The small horizons of Danbury were far too limiting for Charles Ives. With the influence and help from his more prominent extended family (that of his uncle, Lyman Brewster), he was able to attend Yale University (it would have been beyond his father’s means, and certainly, out of the question following his death), but not the “finishing” in Europe so highly coveted by his composer contemporaries.

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115%”>Finding ready acceptance and popularity at Yale in a new environment far from the provincial outlook of his upbringing, Ives enjoyed sports and would come under the strong influence of his peers. Because Yale traditionally had been a place from which new business professionals emerged, it appears he did not feel could be open about his musical ideals. Here, it was not looked at as something one would entertain doing for a living, although he gladly relished a new role amongst his friends as a popular “jack of all trades” in musical functions. Eager not to be perceived as an odd-man out—especially with the negative associations about musicians he brought with him—here, he would actively cultivate an image of one who engaged in music light-heartedly for fun, or for practical gain (good business!) as an organist on Sundays. Thus it has been realistically theorized that Ives always harbored thoughts of a career in business, and not music.2 The choice of which university to attend presumably was not lost on his family, and indeed, Ives’s decisions following graduation from Yale lend weight to this argument. Further:

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       His one real attempt to become a successful professional composer was quickly dashed without much of a fight.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·       Upon his graduation from Yale, taking an entry-level professional business position with Mutual Insurance had been pre-determined by his uncle.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Relocating to New York, Ives quickly became thoroughly entrenched in the business life of the big city as a part of its culture and lifestyle, while retaining a musical hobbyist’s image for his friends and business associates.

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115%”>Oddly, being academically somewhat of an under-achiever also was considered part and parcel of being a true Yale fellow; this is well reflected in Ives’s record, along with that of many of his contemporaries. However, like so many of the most innovative minds throughout history, probably Ives was easily bored by the formal constraints of academia, something that had never caught his imagination even in his earlier years. Being preoccupied by his duties as an organist and composer of music for church services, as well as taking care of his other studies, it is also not altogether surprising that his attentions might have been somewhat divided. Other possibilities of a more clinical nature for his lackluster academic performance have been proposed, too, such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

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color:black”>Horatio Parker    

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115%”>Horatio Parker, Ives’s thoroughly European schooled composition teacher, presented an even stronger pull toward another musical universe. German trained, his style was true to the late romantic European tradition of Brahms and his contemporaries, his best-known work being the cantata, Hora Novissima. Today, out of a substantial output, this is all he is remembered for. Although Parker’s career represented a perpetuation of a culture from across the Atlantic, this did, nevertheless, demonstrate that it was possible for a native born American composer to have a successful career in music. Indeed, Parker was highly renowned in his day. However, even an acclaimed composer in America needed to supplement his income in various ways; thus, in addition to teaching at Yale, Parker also maintained a busy schedule of performing as a church organist and local orchestra conductor.

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115%”>Regretably, Parker—who can be credited with developing and refining Ives’s basic homegrown skills—would never recognize the huge talent he had under his wing, in many ways acting to suppress it, though not deliberately. To be fair, Ives represented a latent form of musician unknown to him, and more than likely would have escaped notice of almost any other professional musician of the day, too. Regardless, Ives would harbor conflicted feelings about Parker’s role in his music throughout his adult life, though never bore him any malice on a personal level.

               
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line-height:115%”>A career in insurance
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line-height:115%”>Upon graduating from Yale, Ives moved to New York City. His first ten years in New York were spent living in a form of “digs,” at an apartment residence building specially allocated to Yale graduates, nicknamed “Poverty Flat.” Here, he would stay far longer than his contemporaries. Apparently reluctant to give up his Yale social life and that of a happy bachelor, his long stay there also probably reflected a form of limbo, in which he was not yet quite ready to embrace the real world—and probably an uncertainty about how to embrace both business and music together.

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115%”>Perhaps, too, his early health issues and the crisis that almost enveloped the insurance business of 1905 were also factors in his apparent indecision with moving forward. Ives’s initial introduction by his uncle into the industry seemed the proper place for a young future professional to begin in the world, careers in business being a common expectation of most Yale graduates. Though the near collapse of the industry from internal corruption almost jettisoned his chances, Ives would be a prominent player in its redemption, however. His efforts to rebuild the industry model on a new, almost Transcendentally inspired foundation were highly instrumental in its reemergence and staying power to this day. Applying a scientific approach and compassion to human needs, Ives’s business model and philosophy for calculating actuarial tables revolutionized life insurance.

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115%”>Although Ives remained spiritually bonded to Danbury, his childhood home, he would choose to leave and remain only an occasional visitor forever. His ambitions and needs, having outgrown the boundaries and provincial attitudes of “small town America,” resulted in his relocating to New York City immediately upon graduating from Yale. Here, he would taste real success, even if it would not be in music. Since Ives was influenced by his surroundings, many of his compositions reflect city life.

text-indent:13.5pt;line-height:115%;mso-outline-level:1”>Although it is hardly surprising that he maintained a primary residence in town near his work, eventually he would crave peace and solitude, designing and building a country estate in 1914 on a serene 18-acre property on Umpawaug Road in West Redding, Connecticut. Later, it would become his full-time residence, and where many of his works were composed. Regardless, Ives juggled two major careers, composing in his spare time away from the office, completely unknown to the larger musical world.

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 color:black”>Harmony Twichell

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>Ives’s primary support throughout most of his adult life was his wife and soul mate, Harmony, who cared for him, encouraged him, and always stood by him regardless of joy or adversity. Daughter of the iconic Rev. Joseph Twichell, and a trained nurse, there can be no doubt she was at least partly responsible for his attaining the age of almost eighty, despite his multiple physical ailments and frailty. Harmony provided the focus for his life, the reason to move on from his circular existence at “Poverty Flat” into the passion to succeed in his successful future in business, as well as providing the freedom, space, safe haven and optimism—moreover, the belief in him—to compose.

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>The Adirondacks

line-height:115%”>In 1905, Ives experienced his first bout of illnesses that would return to haunt him for the rest of his life; he came to treasure his time out of the city amongst the inspirational settings and solace of the Adirondacks wildernesses in upstate New York, in the years before he had his country home. The blend in Ives’s consciousness of the vast panoramas and his Transcendental visions would inspire many of his greatest compositions—most notably, perhaps, the Universe Symphony, the culminating focus of this writing, and one that never left his thoughts.

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The Adirondacks

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115%”>Adirondacks mountain scene: Lake Placid

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The Transcendentalists of Concord
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line-height:115%”>Although Ives’s tradition-steeped values were strongly identified with nineteenth century America, it was the revolutionary philosophical and spiritual values of the Transcendentalist movement that had the most profound impression upon him, and become, perhaps, the largest creative focus of his life. The influence of these luminary figures shows up with regularity in most of Ives’s mature compositions, his entire adult life seeming to encompass a search to find his place in their Transcendental universe. Creatively, the philosophies of the Concord, MA, “four” (Ives’s Transcendental heroes), would carry thus at least as much weight with him than the religious outlook of his upbringing—the final, critical dimension in his astonishing dash to the stars.

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115%”>Ralph Waldo Emerson

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115%”>It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Ives’s great piano epic, the Concord Sonata, would pay homage to Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau and the Alcotts, as he sought to find an equivalent in musical sound of what they represented to him. However, it was primarily Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings and outlook that would act as Ives’s predominant philosophical guide.
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115%”>Transcendentalists considered that religion and politics, as well as academic intellectualism (to them, as typified by Yale University’s rival, Harvard, in their day!), were anathema to humanity, and ultimately harmful to the human condition; with the family tie to Transcendentalism, can it be coincidence that Ives would attend Yale? As a product of its age, Transcendenatlism was in many ways a form of the romantic idealism in which man was central in the cosmos, and at one with it. Considering that everything already existed in unique forms, Transcendentalists would build upon the works of those who came before, though by looking to their own surroundings they would create a newly relevant reflection of their own place in time and space. If similar movements have sprung up periodically ever since, unfortunately, none of them ever has had a visionary figure quite like Emerson to steer them.

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 115%”>Nathaniel Hawthorn

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115%”>Regardless, not only did Ives hitch himself to transcendentalism, but also held on to the essential faith of his upbringing, too, and politically being a staunch Democrat to boot, apparently he had no problem juggling such fundamental contradictions under one tent! With the combination of the religious ‘fervor’ he had experienced amidst large congregations and the passionate political views he found necessary to put meaning to his own brand of transcendentalism, Ives thus hardly marched lockstep with his heroes. He considered pure transcendentalism lacked the components of publicly affirmed faith, as well as a populist voice. However, his personal interpretation shared a common bond with the Concord transcendentalists’ belief in man’s fundamental goodness and place in eternity.

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Henry David
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115%”>While hitching himself to Transcendentalism, Ives also held on to the essential faith of his upbringing, too, and politically being a staunch Democrat to boot, apparently he had no problem juggling such fundamental contradictions under one tent! Combining the religiosity of his Congregationalist upbringing with the “fervor” of the large crowds he had witnessed at camp meetings, together with the passionate political views he found necessary to put meaning to his own life, Ives thus hardly marched lockstep with his Transcendental heroes. He considered the philosophy in its purest state lacked the components of publicly affirmed faith, as well as a populist voice, although his personal interpretation shared a common bond with Transcendental belief in man’s fundamental goodness and place in eternity.

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Amos Bronson Alcott

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115%”>Although Ives’s belief system was essentially his own, cobbling together the best he knew from these sources into a highly personal approach to his purpose and life, still it is fair to say that the larger messages of religion, politics and Transcendentalism were able to remain comfortably at his core. The very “American-ness” of his music, however, was the result mostly of his application of these philosophies within the culture and traditional ideals in which he was immersed, though pivotally, Transcendentalism taught Americans they were mistaken in looking primarily to Europe for cues, when their own surroundings could provide far more authentic resources for their own views of the cosmos. With this in mind, Ives would spend many hours in contemplation from a lookout shelter he built with his brother, Moss, on Pine Mountain, Connecticut in 1903, long after he had left home in nearby Danbury, absorbing the vast panoramas all around him. He would try to forge that element in musical sound; ultimately it would include the very cosmos into which he had stared.

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115%”>The Stars Align


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115%”>One should put to rest immediately the mistaken but popular notion that Ives set out to write nationalistic music—a shallow perspective that would have been diametrically opposite to his larger universal philosophy. Deeply as Ives loved his country, his patriotism was aligned with the spirit of freedom and democracy as exemplified in the US Constitution; he wanted the same for all mankind across the world. Ives’s music represented an immersion in a place and time, authentically experienced and expressed. If his feisty comments made him appear to resent European culture, actually this was not the case. In fact, at the height of his creativity, Ives was decidedly anti-nationalistic in temperament; his Transcendentalism ensured it
"Times New Roman"”>, though he resented the common preference to remain unquestioningly within the familiar comfort zones of
normal”>other
peoples’ experiences—thus, accepting the dominance of foreign cultures, and the devaluation of their own.
line-height:115%”> Ives encountered this barrier with regularity, the blunt rejection of his efforts rewarding him with nothing, other than the devoted support and encouragement from a few people close to him; in truth, few were ready to be receptive to his radical message.

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line-height:115%”>Because Ives chose early on to write as his instincts guided him, effectively he had freed himself to use whatever served his needs, throwing out nothing by default, even if it had European origins, an outlook entirely consistent with the Transcendental ideal. Ives chose a good model: Emerson himself built upon the (European) philosophies of Goethe, rather than start anew, following the philosophy that nothing was truly new, having existed in some capacity before. Though the unique sounds that Ives created sometimes seem to belong to another musical universe, it is easy to overlook the important links to the traditions of Western music that he preserved, and that maintain connections to his own country’s cultural heritage. Revisionists, however, have pounced upon this obvious link as if surprising, while casting Ives as somehow less revolutionary than previously believed. Having, however, no compunction to add to or reorder existing methodologies in any way he saw fit, Ives, however, pioneered many new techniques along the way. Significantly, as Ives’s music reflected the world as experienced within his own horizons,
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>many of the “alien” sounds actually were extraordinary combinations of existing elements previously considered irreconcilable.

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Ives’s Transcendentalism was reflected further in his business model, the life insurance crisis having threatened to destroy it; that he was motivated to be instrumental in righting its wrongs is central to understanding him—having witnessed, close-up, the collapse of the industry. In order to live under its umbrella and within himself, insurance had to represent more than just making money; thus it would become no less a part of his idealism than anything else in his life. It would enable free people to know the comfort of protection from financial adversity, while ensuring that the provider of that security could remain fiscally solvent indefinitely without reaping excessive profit—a perfect socially responsible balance. Ives’s idealistic world would be so enlightened that even children would whistle quarter-tone melodies as they skipped happily down the street!3 Many people probably overlook, too, the fact that business probably occupied significantly more of Ives’s time than composing, and thus, make no allowance for the fact that a large part of his life therefore will always remain unknown. Even many of his friends and business associates knew nothing of his double life (composer and businessman); they only knew one of the two apparently separate persons.

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line-height:115%”>The rush to the stars

line-height:115%”>The feverish rush that can be detected in Ives’s musical development is increasingly reflected in his large evolved musical essays once he entered his fifth decade; his rapid pace towards it reflected his father’s early demise, and a nagging reminder that time might not be on his side. As he reached ever higher toward his destination, strangely, even his writings do not hint of anything out of the ordinary driving him—or at least he would not admit to it. Certainly nothing he described reveals a final goal, although he did verbalize his efforts to match his music with his philosophies.

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115%”>Although it is possible to understand many elements of Ives’s music, technically, and analyses of his work have revealed numerous insights into the methodologies he innovated and incorporated, exactly
normal”>how
he formulated what he wrote still is largely a mystery. No one who knew him ever would gain any insight into the unique traits of his musical language, much less take from him his preferred way for them to perform what he had written. In this matter he seemed singularly disinterested, deferring most artistic decisions to the performer. Even his extensive words in Memos never gave it away; they maintain a certain vagueness of critical detail, as if such matters were entirely too private to discuss.

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line-height:115%”>A universe of contradictions

line-height:115%”>If Ives seemed wildly eccentric, he lived according to a fundamental philosophical code; if he seemed sometimes explosive, in fact he was gentle and kind. Though a musical revolutionary, he maintained the deep values of his upbringing; his intellectual profundity was counterbalanced by his love of puns (!), his idealism, by acceptance of the reality, his shyness, by a later urge to see his work better known. Ives, however, had no need to impress anyone; his business success did not make him materialistic. Instead he was generous to a fault, and was an anonymous benefactor to countless people and causes. If he was forward-looking, he tried to preserve the best from the past; the apparent chaos of his music is reflected in careful organization. His reclusiveness (as much by choice as necessity), did not make him anti-social—these qualities are just a few of the remarkable contradictions that sum up a composer who many regard as one of the greatest, an American titan amongst his international contemporaries.

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115%”>Into Ives’s old age, a quiet self-respect, even more an inner peace with who he was and what he had done in his life, remained unshakable within him. To the end of his life, Ives held humankind in the highest regard, and felt a personal stake in its march towards freedom and elevation. Carol K. Baron, the eminent musicologist, revealed his life philosophy in ways that never had been appreciated fully before. In her article, “
line-height:115%”>Efforts on Behalf of Democracy by Charles Ives and His Family: Their Religious Contexts,”4 Baron would properly acknowledge and detail Ives’s immense philanthropic legacy, one born of the enlightened liberal religious passions of Horace Bushnell and William Ellery Channing, the legacy of Emerson as handed down through his paternal grandmother, and his family’s social idealism demonstrated on a personal level—George Ives had brought home an African-American orphan from the Civil War to assist and reintroduce to a newly liberated society, the very spirit from which Ives drew his optimism. However, one would never know these things from those who have adopted the revisionist model.

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115%”>Despite being the most individualistic of composers to emerge during the great years of the new century, Ives, however, was unknown during his most creative period—his influence on other contemporary composers, therefore, nil. Aside from his unique outlook and life, Ives’s persona was nothing like that expected of great composers. An utterly down-to-earth individual, he could not identify with the popular image of “tortured artist in the attic,” something misunderstood in many analyses, though simply a reflection of his upbringing, values and circumstances. Uncomfortable with such a role, it can be traced not only to his negative perceptions of musicians within his community, but his convictions that great music belonged to all humankind, not the elite. As such, Ives saw nobility in the most commonplace of music and music making, his father having shown him not to judge them by the sound, (the superficial), lest he miss the music, (the profound).

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line-height:115%”>A destination amongst the stars

line-height:115%”>Transcendental philosophies taught Ives to lift his musical experiences from the provincial sphere of their origins to the loftiest heights of his imagination. Independent of the dominance of Europe, Ives would touch upon virtually every twentieth century musical innovation—typically well in advance of others—in some of the most avant-garde and daring compositions of his day. Via the innovations of genius, Ives’s journey reconciled a rapidly changing world with the larger Transcendental perspective of his surroundings and personal experience. It was his road to salvation—ultimately taking him to his place in the cosmos, a scenario that has been proposed before. In his 2005 article,5 Michael Berest contemplated the real possibility that Ives had been on a path to a distant spiritual destination since 1893—apparently unconsciously—when he wrote his Variations on “America.” Ives’s
11.0pt;line-height:115%;color:windowtext”>ultimate journey would result in the Universe Symphony, perhaps his greatest and most inevitable musical contemplation. Until only relatively recently, it was said to exist within Ives’s imagination like the shifting sands of the desert, remaining in a permanently suspended state; most had regarded it as a mythical monument to a near-delusional vision far beyond practicality, impossible to complete, or never intended for completion. Unsurprisingly, the music was truly cosmic in scope, and entirely consistent with Berest’s speculation and Ives’s philosophical stance. Can it be coincidental that Ives never contemplated a work more ambitious, massive or less worldly?

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115%”>Looking for a precise progression in the timeline to this point is perplexing. Although the overall direction to which his road to the stars pointed is clear—and certainly no one ever would confuse a work from 1900 with one from 1920—Ives, however, worked on countless works simultaneously, reworking existing music and ideas from one into another with uncanny flexibility and regularity. Existing materials would grow further as they continued to evolve, so Ives often lost track of exactly what piece was written when, his various attempts to catalog his work years later frequently being contradictory, and a stark testament to the enigmatic record. The upshot is that sometimes works belonging to different periods sometimes emerged at the same time. If a chronological flow was not to be, the destination itself never was in doubt.

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115%”>The period of Ives’s road to the stars also encompasses the years in which he built his hugely successful business, featuring no less drive to all that was behind his music. Within the compressed period of two decades, Ives’s productivity could have filled several lifespans, his contributions in both fields being similarly wide. Once the Universe Symphony had largely formed in his mind, going further was impossible; Ives’s composing eventually would halt altogether within just a few years, before he had completed a full draft of the work. Many historians, psychoanalysts and musicologists have attempted to de-mystery the rapid cessation of Ives’s compositional activity, especially in regard to the mighty near-mythical symphony.
JA”>Perhaps most of them missed the clues through too
normal”>clinical
an examination of Ives’s unique circumstances. Complex psychological explanations sometimes belie simple truths, however, while alternate agendas have taken advantage of the innocent and benevolent genius of one of America’s most remarkably creative and defining figures.

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115%”>Accessing the music


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115%”>Ives’s music would emerge as the product of a brave new world in which artistic sophistication in the American general public still was in its infancy. In the circumstances, Ives came almost to relish his status as one of music’s “bad boys,” and was wary of becoming too comfortably accepted. That outcome would have meant that his music had become a victim of the status quo; Ives wanted change to be ongoing. He was not trying to shock or offend anyone, even more to scare his audience away, though he did not mind disturbing those who were close-minded to new horizons—a reminder of the “society ladies” of Danbury—the “lily pads” who wanted to listen only to that which soothed and caressed their sensibilities by basking in sounds that never presented anything new.

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115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>Although part of Ives’s isolation was due to increasing health problems, his personal outlook made it inevitable. Had tried to please audiences first and foremost, he would now be forgotten. Better that he not endeavor to make a living from music, and perhaps time would reveal what he had done. Ives criticized many contemporary composers for taking what he regarded as “the easy way out” with concessions they had taken in order to please their audiences—rather than risk breaking new ground. As such, he did not have too many kind words for them. Such crusty comments need to be taken in the spirit intended, because Ives was an ideological purist; his comments should not be misinterpreted as having arisen out of bitterness or resentment.

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115%”>It seems one loves or hates Ives’s music, which still baffles, mystifies and perplexes. If one’s impressions are derived from brief exposure only to his more outlandish and daring compositions, it is probably too much to expect a good reaction. Ives’s music evolved alone. In his time, it was often dismissed as the incoherent ramblings of a dilettante, one who did not know what he was doing. Such sentiments were expressed even long after it started gaining attention—harsh dismissals, and worse, frequently the words of renowned musicians and reviewers, and even by some of his friends and extended family. Quite aside from the fact
mso-fareast-language:JA”>that his vision diverged so greatly from the musical establishment, no wonder Ives was so openly critical of those who controlled it. After a long period of gradual discovery, Ives’s music would be greeted by enthusiastic new blood in American music, as well as by those in progressive movements abroad. However, the golden period that saw him heralded as a musical prophet was followed by a time of disbelief—something so remarkable had to be explained away. It might have been fairer had it remained similarly objective when applied to others; however, Ives was an outsider, and some were more comfortable that he remain so, and an over-eager inquisition would devolve into the outright shredding of Ives’s reputation. The damage done, at least for a time, the same attitudes that had dogged Ives during his lifetime still have not gone away.

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115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>Although many of the one-sided judgments have been shown now to be hollow, a segment of scholarship has continued to cling steadfastly to a false picture of their own making of Ives and his music. However, this “Beethovenesque” figure actually lived in our midst, not so different to the man most
115%;color:windowtext;mso-fareast-language:JA”>thought they knew all along. His music stands proudly defiant, needing no justification or reason to exist. It does, however, need understanding and a willingness to set all bias aside. In that respect, for many listeners it has still a long way to go, because it is very hard to understand what is behind it when considered only through conditioned expectation. Requiring a degree of effort from the listener (as with all the greatest artistic works of the ages), Ives’s music is never more likely to be rejected amongst those whose enjoyment of music encompasses only easy listening, or worse reducing it to mere background ambience.

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115%”>Numerous books about the composer, his life and music, feature extraordinary breadth and detail of historical information, though mostly, however, lack insightful or objective analyses of the music, other than the isolation of quoted melodies. Many of them seem so contradictory that one wonders how their authors viewed Ives, one’s impression seeming to sway back and forth like a ship on the high seas. Are these texts the result of their authors somehow having foisted their own personalities and challenges upon another person entirely? Though maybe excellent as music histories, how many were written by a musician of any stripe, especially one who has demonstrated performance capabilities on a professional level, or one who, at least, was sufficiently objective, even able, to appreciate Ives’s great and original genius in musical terms. For those who have already rejected his music, such texts—already become redundant and repetitive—will not likely cause them to change their minds.

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115%”>Thus, the problem for most music lovers, who are not also musicians, is not a lack of books on Ives, rather it is how to appreciate his music. Even with what is available, the layman is left out, by and large, because most texts require the prospective reader already to be knowledgeable about music. On the other side of the coin, any source written exclusively for the layman is likely to assume a level of comprehension and knowledge that is rudimentary in the extreme—extremely frustrating (dare we say insulting?) for those who can handle more, but remain unable to access technically specific texts. By default, musicologists write materials for other musicologists! Academic texts will be out of range for most average laymen; likely they will not be able to relate to them any more successfully than making sense of Ives’s music in the first place. Thus, the upshot does more than anything else to ensure that a unique musical treasure trove remains the exclusive turf of an elite club that still fails, in most instances, to broach explicit analyses of what Ives actually did.

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115%”>Directly related to this problem, a recent opinion piece on “MusicWeb International” by Frank T. Manhein,6 raised the specter of the continuing contradiction with Ives’s music and the disparate levels of appreciation between audiences and music “experts.” It seems that acceptance—indeed, comprehension and appreciation of the music—remains directly proportional to the level of training, expertise, theoretical/historical knowledge, etc., that the listener brings to the table. Further does it seem that only when the subject of Ives’s music comes up does this particular kind of discourse raise its head! Far rarer it seems, for example, is such discussion regarding many other twentieth century pioneers, such as Schönberg, Webern, or Cage—composers who are similarly far from public favorites, or whose music is any more accessible, if indeed even as much.

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115%”>Manhein further commented on the reactions and receptiveness to Ives’s music of current audiences, versus the others over the course of time (mostly since the late 1940’s). Things have not changed very much, apparently. But whose fault is this? The implication is that it is somehow Ives’s, because his music has not penetrated most peoples’ horizons. However, if the shunning of new ideas were the ideal approach for a composer to take, then everyone still would be listening to plainsong. The public has rejected many of the greatest works of music at the time of their writing, and also decades after their creation. Many still are greeted with mere polite applause, even though society might have slowly accorded their creators a level of respect that surpasses any lack of affection they might still hold for their music. In that light, although few laymen would contend that J. S. Bach was not indeed a musical titan, most concertgoers would probably elect to attend a performance of Tchaikowski’s 1812 Overture rather than Bach’s B Minor Mass. Thus popular appeal is not the ultimate test. Nor should ever it be.

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115%”>Aaron Copland, perhaps the most “popular” of all America’s “classical” composers posed a similar challenge, though with a somewhat more startling perspective. Because most of Ives’s music was written “in the dark,” his music being formulated in isolation, irrespective of public reaction, acclaim or rejection, Copland saw it is a key weakness. If this seems to be an odd position for a composer to take in regard to the arts, especially regarding a true pioneer such as Ives, as such it does seem to fall right in line with Manhein’s position. However, with all due greatest respect and admiration for Copland, he was not a pioneer of revolutionary techniques, and indeed did write music to please his audiences readily. Thus, to accept his hypothesis—perhaps even more to consider music in general to be merely another form of entertainment—then one might agree with him. But to embrace such a sentiment allows for little creativity or growth, and ensures artistic stagnation and lack of creativity. The greatest works in all art never have followed a quick and easy path to acceptance based on immediate comprehension by those rendered ill-equipped by its innovation to do so. Indeed, there are plenty of contradictions to Copland’s view; can anyone argue that the disastrous first performance of Stravinsky’s
normal”>Rite of Spring
would lead him to reject it, or to modify his future work based on that reaction? In fact, Stravinsky embraced his newfound radical image, which allowed him virtually to thumb his nose at an intolerant public.

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115%”>The movie business provides an interesting analogy. For a movie to be successful means that it must be quickly and well received by the public if it is to make its money back for its investors. Therefore the industry faces a constant challenge to embrace high art, especially groundbreaking high art at that, and succeed at the box office. If the latter—rather than the former—is not achieved, the filmmakers concerned will not likely be rewarded with another opportunity to spend their investors’ money. This is not to say that high art cannot exist within the movies; surely it does, and when it breaks new ground, too, it is movie-making history. But to expect a public more interested in immediate gratification than the new and profound, even life-changing experiences, is always asking a lot in our entertainment-driven culture.

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115%”>It is necessary to make peace with the fact that most of the public does not go to concerts; the musical community has not yet reconciled the gap between what is truly esoteric and that which is merely comfortable and soothing (“pretty”) to listen to. It seems the majority of the public still is unaware, even disdainful, of what all the fuss over “classical” music is about. Ives knew this this problem well, that most of the public found new and unfamiliar music to be uninteresting, more likely, ugly; however, he also knew that greater familiarity often resulted in greater acceptance, even affection. An optimistic spirit by nature, Ives always held out hope for a time when people would tire of the status quo, and demand more from themselves and their artists. As part of the Transcendental vision, one might still hope that indeed the day would come when an increasingly sophisticated public finally will make Ives’s aspirations a reality.2 Of course, to date, it has not worked out that way; some even might argue the world has stepped backward. Should one expect to understand all implications in art from the outset, there would be little room for new developments outside familiar comfort levels, regardless of one’s sophistication. So although Ives’s music represents extreme artistic independence to be sure, this writer would argue that it was, in fact, one of his greatest strengths, freeing him to explore clear, new horizons, undeterred by the reactions of those who likely would reject them. That he was not dependent on his need to capitalize on them financially underscores the argument further.

 line-height:115%”> 

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line-height:115%”>Through another prism

line-height:115%”>Probably, it would be unhelpful to try to explore Ives’s music through cross-references with other music of the time, simply because his music evolved largely as a separate and independent entity, even when his techniques were not necessarily exclusive to him. The pioneering aspects of Ives’s music were conceived, for the most part, in a near artistic vacuum, and they are best presented on those terms. Indeed, Ives treated his innovations, even when common to the works of others, entirely differently.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>In tracing his artistic evolution that make Ives’s road to the stars easier to see, the many omitted compositions should not be seen as a reflection of their significance. It would do little good, too, if this text were to be centered on analyses of printed scores couched in technical terms, when perhaps the majority of its readers cannot read music! Indeed, nor should they have any requirement to do so, since musical notation is a means of communication, nothing more, and only what the composer put on the page for the performer. One should not need to be a musician in order to enjoy what is involved to compose or perform; understanding music in a technical sense should not be a requirement to its appreciation. In this light, a few literary references beneficial to further investigation have been included (at the end of each chapter); they should not be considered essential to a larger understanding. Additionally, the musically descriptive texts in this book intentionally contain no musical score examples—no music reading skills being necessary—in keeping with the stated premise to make the music accessible to all, regardless of background. Though listening guideposts are outlined in standard terms to illustrate Ives’s steps, specifically for each work:

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
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mso-list:l15 level1 lfo18”>
line-height:115%;font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:
Symbol”>·       There is a general discussion to read.

text-indent:-.25in;line-height:115%;mso-list:l15 level1 lfo18”>
Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Listeners’ guides are featured to promote familiarization through musical guideposts.

text-indent:-.25in;line-height:115%;mso-list:l15 level1 lfo18”>
Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Recordings should enable identification of those guideposts.

 line-height:115%”> 

 line-height:115%”> 

line-height:115%”>Historical perspectives of this book

line-height:115%”>And finally, it was not the writer’s intent to retread yet another detailed, historic examination and documentation of Ives’s life. When Magee’s
normal”>Charles Ives Reconsidered
was released in 2008, as a relatively new entrant into the field and with a purported new stance, it was surprising that much of what was contained within its covers revisited detail presented exhaustively
JA”>before. Magee even analyzed, to the near exclusion of other possible choices, and in the greatest detail at that, the same work, General William Booth enters into Heaven, as had J. Peter Burkholder in 1996
italic”>.7
italic”> Other attempts at analysis, such as Emerson in the Concord Sonata were less than successful, and i
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>t seems that Magee’s agenda was designed more to promote her new chronology, as well as to couch it in a freshly revised interpretation of Ives’s life, than to shed real light. Although some review of Ives’s life and circumstances is unavoidable if the context of what is presented here is to make any sense, rather than revisit information for its own sake, fuller accounts will be left to those texts far more detailed complete, and already available.

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REFERENCES

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line-height:115%”>1.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Charles Ives, Essays Before a Sonata (Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1920), 12.

line-height:115%”>2.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Gayle Sherwood Magee,
normal”>Charles Ives Reconsidered
(University of Illinois Press, Chicago, IL, 2008), 55-56; Frank R. Rossiter, Charles Ives & His America (Liveright, New York, 1975), 114.

line-height:115%”>3.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Ives, Essays Before a Sonata, 82.

line-height:115%”>4.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Carol K. Baron, “Efforts on Behalf of Democracy by Charles Ives and His Family: Their Religious Contexts,”
normal”>The Musical Quarterly,
vol. 87, 1, (Oxford University Press): 2004.

line-height:115%”>5.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Michael Berest, “Charles Ives Universe Symphony, ‘Nothing More to Say,’” 2005, www.afmm.org/uindex.htm.

line-height:115%”>6.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Frank T. Manhein, “twentieth century pioneer composer Charles Ives: audiences and critics’ opinions over time,”
normal”>MusicWeb International,
2004, www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Oct04/Ives_View.htm

line-height:115%”>7.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>J. Peter Burkholder, “Charles Ives and the Four Traditions,” from Charles Ives and his World, ed. J. Peter Burkholder (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1996), 23–29; Magee, Charles Ives Reconsidered, 106–13.



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 115%”>CHAPTER 1


115%”>The Makeup of the Man


 12.0pt;line-height:115%”> 

margin-left:27.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
text-indent:.5in;line-height:115%”>In the cosmos, structures called “starburst” galaxies host star formation and development at such a pace that they rapidly exhaust their star-making materials. These galaxies are destined to have vastly shortened lives.

 


115%”>Messier 82, a starburst galaxy


115%”><
Insert IMAGE - Messier 82, a starburst galaxy>

Image courtesy NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA/ The Hubble Heritage Team

 

 

text-indent:.5in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>On a human scale, Charles Ives’s accelerated development and fast decline is curiously reminiscent of a starburst galaxy—his major creative development and output spanning essentially just a quarter of his life. Apart from some peripheral works dating from as early as the 1880’s to as late as 1927, most of Ives’s output and development encompasses the first two decades of the twentieth century. During the middle of the century’s third decade, the once-fevered music making from one of its most remarkable creators would fall as silent as the guns of the Great War that had accompanied some of his most productive years. By 1927, struggling to keep the fires burning, Ives reluctantly would face the reality that his time as a composer was over; in fact, it had been largely so for some time, though he had traveled light years from small town nineteenth century America into the extremes of the cosmos itself.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

line-height:115%”>Ives in his time

line-height:115%”>Unsurprisingly, there is no better way to get to know Ives than by his own words. Memos, mostly consisting of dictated prose, is a collection of thoughts about his music, his background, his early years, George Ives, other composers, his philosophical outlook, what he encountered from others (musicians, critics and even audiences of the day), as well as countless insights into his personality and life.
normal”>1
Full of satire, humor, peppered with frequent self-effacing remarks, his amusing perceptions of those with shuttered minds—this is Ives speaking directly to the reader. He emerges as a living person, indeed, as if one has been in his company, with very little of the baggage that some have imposed upon him apparent at all. While Ives’s own rationale for his work emerges more credible than practically anything else one is likely to encounter, the real Ives turns out to be very much the person known before revisionism tried to recast him in a musicologically prescribed image.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>There are other records that verify much about what can be found in Memos. Between 1969 and 1970 (more than 15 years following Ives’s death), Vivian Perlis, formerly of the Oral History American Music Project at Yale University, undertook a unique labor of love. In recording what seem to be countless interviews from every living contact that she could locate—friend, family member, musician, or business associate—Perlis assembled them into a book that provided a living portrait of Ives, reaching back to his youth and forward to old age. Here was the pioneer composer, businessman, and benefactor, as seen by others. One of the earliest books on his life still in print, Perlis’s portrait allowed Ives to be seen through the two-sided glass of the parallel worlds of music and insurance he inhabited. Academically a relatively light volume, in both weight and bibliographic documentation, in comparisons with most others the information contained in Perlis’ work makes it perhaps the weightiest of all; Ives’s world speaks for itself, hardly less tellingly than by his own words.2

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The real Charles Ives clearly did not crave personal recognition; He was comfortable in his own skin. Certainly he wanted his music to be heard, but not if it meant ignoring all that mattered to him. The collective portrait of Ives in Perlis’s book reinforces his own words, leaving very little room for interpretation, or deep-seated issues that need resolution and specialized analysis. Even more, what many commentators have devised to explain his creativity, why it ceased, even his character and life choices—while trying to shoehorn him into a prescribed stereotype—are hard to find.

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line-height:115%”>Ives in our time

line-height:115%”>
JA”>If one is seeking extensive detail on the historic aspects of Ives’s life, however, there are some remarkable sources of information available in existing books and biographies. Some caution is encouraged, though, for those not yet sufficiently familiar with Ives the person and composer. As mentioned in the Preface, readers should remain always wary of a many of these texts, along with the conclusions and inferences drawn in them; sometimes the authors’ positions reflect larger agendas, and emerge as more important than the composer himself. Two such texts illustrate the good and the bad, and are amongst the best of what is all too typical.
line-height:115%”> Both volumes, however, must have represented enormous undertakings to compile and investigate
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line-height:115%”>
 JA”> 

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The massive book by Stuart Feder, Charles Ives: My Father’s Song,3 is one
normal”>
of the most thoroughly researched books of all on its subject. This encyclopedic vault of information does not come without huge drawbacks, however, typical of many in-depth works about Ives’s life and music. Most non-musicians likely will find it heavy going, and overly detailed for their level of interest. As might be expected, it also comes with much more than its fair share of the author's own interpretative agenda, but little that explains the methodology of what he did.

margin-left:27.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
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text-indent:-13.5pt;line-height:115%;mso-list:l39 level1 lfo37”>
Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The classic 1974 work by Frank R. Rossiter, Charles Ives & His America.4 Slightly different in its approach, Rossiter’s was amongst the first of such analyses whereby a reappraisal was undertaken out of the “legend” status that had been accorded Ives almost indiscriminately, even if the heart of its being was true. To the general reader, Rossiter’s book will be more accessible than Feder’s, though it is only slightly less exhaustive, historically, but takes upon itself the unqualified judgment and appraisals of Ives’s compositional contributions, even though its writer was not a musician of any type.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>In the context of looking for explanations into Ives’s remarkable and visionary life, both works leave no stone unturned, discovering many red herrings along the way. Unfortunately, these blind alleys are not always recognized as such, often leaving the subject now diminished—the unintended consequence of inadequate vision and secondhand “analyses” of figures considered sufficiently significant to study in the first place! Of the two, perhaps Rossiter’s is the more valuable for its better picture of all that surrounded Ives’s life and times. Though its perspective is somewhat better than most, its lack of musically based reasoning leads to some unfortunate conclusions. In comparison however, Feder’s is far more detailed in laying out the historic aspects of Ives’s life, and has the benefit of his considerable musical background, though is likely to prove unwieldy and incomprehensively tortured for many readers.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>In the opinion of this writer, however, both authors fell into a common trap when attempting to make definitive and subjective judgments, especially when apparently blind to the obvious—akin not to being able to see the forest for the trees. These judgments often seem, quite frankly, bizarre, even ridiculous, perhaps having arisen out of a need to see intellectual or analytical profundity in things that would be seen as straightforward, even normal, by anyone else. However, perhaps the most egregious symptom of these artistic evaluations is the fact that they had been stated gratuitously, as if no serious, studied musician of any stripe would, or could, possibly disagree. Though there is nothing wrong with looking for greater truths, of course, this writer takes issue with dissecting the “Ives legend” to the degree that Ives’s unique contribution, character and voice is lost as these two ultimate detractors pull apart his corpse.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Negative, and unwarranted appraisals abound in many other texts. Was it disingenuous, even “ungracious,” that Ives would have used an earlier personal connection in order to secure a performance of his music, having already distanced himself from that person? Gayle Sherwood Magee tried to make that case in Charles Ives Reconsidered,5 in relation to the friendship between his teacher at Yale, Horatio Parker, and the famed German conductor, Walter Damrosch. Ives was a former student of Parker, but they had not had a “falling out.” In that the connection did not result in a performance of his music, Magee tried to link Ives’s later criticisms of both figures to it. In relation to Damrosch’s position on financial considerations trumping the funding of performances of new music, somehow, Magee saw it at odds with Ives’s own later financial success, describing his reactions as “abusive,” even “abrasive.”5 Noticeable, however, was Magee’s conspicuous absence of comment about Ives’s great philanthropy in promoting new music and struggling composers, along with underwriting performances of their work. Always an anonymous benefactor, Ives knew all too well how it felt to be ignored and have financial constraints stand in the way.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Post-mortem Ives revisionism seems to something accorded almost all domestic heroes; America’s favorite musical son was not likely to be spared from the rite of passage that has become part of the culture. Luckily, the counter-reaction to that—the traditional rebuilding of a wounded former hero—has begun to take hold; the well-known portrait of Ives leaning forward on his cane with that glint in his eye almost seems to foretell it; he knew everyone would come around.6 Regardless, however, it seems that even to this day Ives still is singled out for a type of treatment unique to him, and that blocks unconditional acceptance into the hallowed ranks of the “musical hall of fame.” It is hard to recall any other major composer who has been so frequently reinvented, micro-analyzed, misunderstood, misrepresented, even falsely accused. His unique message has been lost amongst the blur of misplaced agendas from those who have always claimed to know better than him about things that only he knew, or why he went about doing them. In this respect, amongst those who still “don’t get it” (Ives’s own terminology!), nothing much has changed. It seems sad also that much of the hand wringing about Ives comes from his own countrymen, those who one might have imagined would have been his strongest cheerleaders. (See Appendix 1.) In fact, Ives’s own recollections about his struggles throughout the pages of Memos seem even more telling, and just as viable today as when he recorded them, almost ninety years ago.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Thus one cannot overlook the few texts that approach Ives with objectivity and reverence; the remarkable work by Jan Swafford, Charles Ives: A Life With Music (W.W. Norton & Co., 1996), should not be overlooked by anyone interested in a more detailed examination of his life and work than is possible in this text, one that sets out with a different purpose. In Swafford’s book, Ives’s greatness—the person and composer—is increasingly revealed rather than supplanted by another’s agenda, rivaling virtually any biographical text, and perhaps the best amongst them all. It is no surprise that it continues to outsell virtually all others.

 line-height:115%”> 

 line-height:115%”> 

line-height:115%”>The psychoanalyst’s couch

line-height:115%”>Feder’s perspective, though, is particularly important to understand, because it will illuminate a critical element of the revisionist interpretation of Ives’s life and music. The validity of Feder’s psychobiography case study advancing second-hand, second-guessing years after the fact, of course, is in the eye of the impressionable beholder. In attempting to “diagnose” Ives’s genius as personal and mental flaws, Feder painted a tormented portrait of the composer that is particularly odd on almost every level; did this reflect more the author, perhaps? Although the father/son connection that formed the fundamental basis of his book is well grounded, surely such close bonds are far from unusual. Predictably, others glommed on to the psychoanalytical approach in trying to divine clinical explanations for Ives’s extraordinary creativity and unique musical perspective, other than the obvious: he was a genius and a noble human being! One should bear in mind that no psycho-revisionist knew Ives, and thus could safely shelter behind Ives’s inability to respond to their “diagnoses.” Ives never had been on the couch, but he might have understood them better than they did him.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>In contrast, figures such as Nicolas Slonimsky, who knew Ives personally, wrote explicitly about Ives’s simple take on life, and the very lack of inner turmoil in his soul.7 However, if pent-up frustrations also are easy to understand in one who is physically unable to affect any change—such as with the infirmities that Ives experienced—regardless, no less a figure than Bernard Herrmann commented in 1945 that Ives’s state of mind was neither bitter nor compromised. These words should be taken in earnest in the context of Feder’s relentlessly clinical and unsympathetic hypothesis, generations removed.8 Again, Herrmann knew Ives. The poet Louis Untermeyer,
normal”>9
recalled Ives’s commanding presence, one not formed by an imperious persona in need of ego gratification, but by an unassuming yet assured understanding of his place in the grand scheme of things. Untermeyer saw a person who did not require congratulation, or mainstream approval; Ives knew what he had done without having to hear about it from anyone.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>And what about the legendary crankiness that Feder claimed to be key evidence of a changing and unstable personality? Although many others have referred to Ives as a curmudgeonly New Englander, let us try to find anyone who suffers from multiple physical ailments who is not cranky at times! Indeed, recent research by David Nicholls has pointed to Addison’s disease, the ailment that afflicted Ives’s mother, Mollie,
normal”>10
long considered to be some kind of invalid, due to Ives’s reticence to talk about her, as well as George’s late reference to a “new nurse.” It seems this ailment was responsible for her untimely death and shaky handwriting. The precursors of the disease can be inherited from the mother’s side, and might well explain not only Ives’s own handwriting “snake tracks,” but also perhaps at least some of his increasingly delicate state of being. And regardless, who, as a target of public ridicule and rejection, or who has faced the brick wall of others’ negativity, would not feel
normal”>something
!? Ives’s frequent words of disdain for those of limited vision have been interpreted as bitter and angry by many, but the callous assessments, remarks and indifference that he endured were beyond anything normally reserved for objective critiques, so it is hardly surprising that he would strike back. Typically, Ives did so with humor. Apparently some individuals expect Ives to have shown qualities normally expected of candidates for sainthood.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>In Leon Botstein’s scholarly and interesting, but in some ways forced comparison of Ives with Mahler,11 Botstein tacitly embraced the psychoanalytical approach that had portrayed Ives as just another “case history”—a term he actually used. Ives’s unique genius, musical originality, creativity, even his colorful personality were thus reduced to a bland, even dismissive search for routine explanation. Otherwise, notwithstanding Botstein’s cogent analysis that both of these composers shared some clear traits and common influences, similar comparisons between other composers from almost any period would not be hard to find. Fair enough; perhaps he was onto something. For the most part, though, no one would ever confuse the music of Mahler for Ives. Unfortunately, the article gives an impression, presumably not intended, in which Mahler emerges standing tall, while Ives is reduced to a psychiatric anomaly (another term Botstein actually used!).12 And certainly Mahler had far greater inner psychiatric devils of his own to deal with than Ives ever knew. However, it must not go without comment that Botstein resorted to the most transparent of apologist’s tactics in justifying why Mahler should not have been subjected to the same treatment.13

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>When later years had exaggerated Ives’s personality quirks to a degree, and his physical infirmities were compounding, his close friend, composer Carl Ruggles, recalled that Ives threw his manuscript of the
normal”>Robert Browning Overture
across the kitchen floor in disgust.14 (Luckily, it has survived in good condition!) Ives had lived with it for a long time, and now frustrated with it he had concluded it was no good (or in his terms, N.G.). Wrongly or rightly, he felt that it was enslaved to carefully-calculated formal constrictions—a self-conscious straightjacket—the
normal”>antithesis
of Ives’s compositional aspirations.
normal”>15
Ruggles did, however, comment how ill Ives was at this stage, so the connection with his health and mood is clear.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%;color:windowtext”>Apparently Ives’s critics cannot see, too, the impish irony and boldness of many of his “cranky” remarks and irascible behavior evident to a degree throughout his life, even the slight chuckle often evident in their delivery! All things considered, for the most part, Ives remained pretty much above the fray; in the circumstances, it is remarkable that he was able to keep his identity and inner peace intact. Regardless, those who knew Ives did not consider even his larger outbursts defined him; his flash points were tacitly understood, because they all reflected his deeply held political views and the trampling of individual human rights. Feder seemed unable to relate to these kinds of human passion, perhaps never having experienced them himself. Consequently, Ives emerged harshly, and inaccurately judged; ultimately, Feder’s book must be seen as a dispassionately errant case study of an absent patient on a psychoanalyst’s empty couch—either that or an imaginatively inaccurate docudrama.

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line-height:115%”>Dashed idealism: Ives’s lone journey to the stars

line-height:115%”>Although Ives’s visions of politicians working for the people, freedom and enlightened thought (including the penning of a 20th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, which was proposed formally) were deeply rooted in his personal philosophies, they were overly idealistic for any real chance of adoption. However, they are a window into Ives’s life philosophies. They are reflected, too, in many of his compositions (e.g. The Majority; the
normal”> Second Orchestral Set
; He is There!; Lincoln, the Great Commoner), Ives’s hopes that politicians would do what was right for society were ever present. By 1920, he had reached his artistic zenith, but must have felt he had traveled alone; both culturally and politically, it seemed to him that society had not evolved in a direction that embraced high ideals. It had gone backwards.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>There is no doubt, too, that the crushing of his highest aspirations for humanity were due also to World War I, but the icing on the cake shortly thereafter was Warren G. Harding’s victory in the 1920 Presidential Election. Ives, a staunch Woodrow Wilsonian Democrat, felt Wilson had let him down in failing to deliver the kind of leadership he had hoped for, and especially in giving only lip service to Ives’s own Constitutional Amendment. All the factors combined certainly were factors in his declining incentive for composition; his motivation, along with his health crisis of 1918—almost certainly diabetic collapse, from which he would never fully recover—had been impaired. Regardless, the writer believes it likely that disillusioned idealism and poor health were only part of the picture, perhaps the lesser part at that; Ives had reached his ultimate compositional destination (the Universe Symphony) just in time.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>When one takes into account the pressures of functioning between business and music, it is hardly surprising that Ives became increasingly isolated, even before he became seriously ill, diminishing further any chance he might propose a practical plan for his idealism. He surely maintained unrealistic expectations of others, especially since new generations had only limited awareness of values from times now passed. Most people, busy in the practical aspects of living in a booming new century, probably never paused for a minute to consider a state of higher existence! Feder, in trying to make the case that Ives suddenly acquired his political passions later in life, considered that somehow it replaced his musical creativity. However, Ives held profound political views for most of his adult life, echoed in his own time-honored philosophies; increasing financial independence afforded him better opportunities to pursue them, and time bequeathed him the refinement to do so and the articulation to express himself effectively.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Ives thus had witnessed the rise of crass commercialism, automation, the elevation and exaltation of the glamorous and superficial, tabloid journalism, the descent of higher aspirations into mediocrity—the fruits of which can be seen today. He had invested his expectation of his nation’s evolution along Emersonian ideals, in which a true age of enlightenment would grow as a beacon in the New World. Instead, he witnessed the beginning of the now-familiar twentieth century phenomenon often termed the “dumbing down” of the populace; the dashing of his highest ideals, and the disillusionment that followed was predominantly behind his more passionate outbursts—surely a natural expectation. (Harmony, his wife, would caution visitors not to broach certain subjects—mostly politics, politicians, closed musical minds, bad music and musicians—for fear of inducing a heart attack!) Even if Ives was unrealistic, who can say he was wrong? At least he did not look at the world with Feder’s lack of empathy.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The author is hardly the first to comment upon the circumstances of the time. Michael Broyles, in an expansive article, commented that musicologists had not referenced newer understandings of the history of the period, leading to incorrect perceptions and conclusions about Ives’s motivations, personal philosophy, and the way he conducted his life.
normal”>16
To those who have truly absorbed Ives’s own words, and not forced their own interpretations upon them, none of this should be a surprise.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
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text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
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line-height:115%”>Knowing Ives through his music

line-height:115%”>Knowing Ives through his music reveals the same personality found in his words. Not afraid to express his convictions, and aware they would not please everybody, his independence enabled him to give rein to all of them without external contradictory voices to argue with him—the very factor that enabled his musical freedom, and the kind of idealistic naivety that encouraged exploration, unfettered by public acclaim or disdain. However, during his most productive years he was virtually alone in all that he did in music, completely unknown to most musicians or audiences, aside from the few who were exposed to it in private readings. Here was an American original, one who dared to reach for wider horizons than anyone imagined could exist.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The composer-businessman, seeing himself as just a part of the general populace, enjoyed the company of practically
normal”>anyone
he respected as a “good” person. In his presence there was no outward projection of self-aggrandizement with either his profession or avocation. His authenticity as a human being is revealed in his music. The aging Ives’s old private recording in 1943—its period sound and modest, even ragged singing (!) notwithstanding—of They are There! will bring more than a smile to one’s face.
normal”>17
Ives’s wonderfully free spirit and musicality is a marvel to behold, as is the fact that despite his terrible physical condition at the time (including hand tremors, general weakness and poor eyesight), it does nothing to suppress some extraordinarily agile and facile playing, also heard in the numerous other musical excerpts he recorded that day and at times not too far distant. His playing of The Alcotts from the Concord Sonata is highly illuminating, and though not inconsiderable by any standards, is distinguished further by its indefinable fluidity, direct musicality and genuine sentiment, exemplified even by his playing of the last deep chord.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Remarkably, in all of his music, regardless of which of the wide array of styles, or combinations of styles he used to express himself, Ives’s character eventually becomes unmistakable. He is hardly a chameleon hiding in the shadows. One can argue about what influenced him, or even who thought of what first, but Ives’s unique voice always emerges loud and clear.
line-height:115%;color:windowtext;mso-fareast-language:JA”>Directly reflected by
JA”> possibly one of most original musical “voices” who ever lived, Ives’s world is conveyed through an array of technically complex styles,
JA”>often combined in seemingly irreconcilable ways that function simultaneously to become compatible. Requiring an awareness of more than one stratum at a time, perhaps it explains the music’s inaccessibility to many listeners, though instant gratification hardly is to be expected of Ives’s music. Even his philosophical musical outlook is confounding at first; believing “absolute” music to be of questionable value, he considered it should be about expressing something—just as pure program music would not need the music! Thus, even when roaming the distant, futuristic realms of the Universe Symphony, Ives remained deeply rooted in both realms, finding, somehow, a uniquely satisfying blend. Ives’s comments about Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, whom he respected as the greatest amongst composers, as not having found the perfect mode of expression (out of the need please their audiences), speak to his quest to find it.

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line-height:115%”>The isolationist

line-height:115%”>Since Ives realized early on that there was little tolerance for radical music in American society of the day, and having elected, thus, to make a living doing something less dependent on its approval, the choice would prove to be his liberation. Goddard Lieberson (composer, music critic and music executive) was amongst those who saw it quite simply and clearly: Ives shied away from the business of music, which forced one to sell one’s soul in order to ensure one’s financial security.18

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Aaron Copland and others proposed that Ives
normal”>lost
some of the potential of his music by his inability to reap the benefits of interaction with other musicians,
normal”>19
as well as through the modifications of style and substance that public performance would demand. It is easy to see that had Ives experienced such interaction he would have accomplished little of what is so identifiable as “the Ives sound,” something of which he was keenly aware. Having some familiarity with the work of other contemporary composers, he had attended concerts in which he heard some of the new ideas emerging from Europe. However, one must consider the context of the time, and the likelihood that little radicalism would have been accepted—or even playable by American musicians of the day—and thus, Ives’s claims to having heard little of it probably can be accepted at face value. In any event, soon, he became aware that exposure to any of it would affect his own creativity; increasingly, Ives learned to stay away.20

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Ives’s isolation did not, however, eliminate all prospect of hearing his music; he did benefit from some interaction with a small circle of musicians, apparently regular acquaintances at his house for musical soirées. The practical benefit enabled him to adjust his methods accordingly, rather than out of need for acceptance or approval—answering in large part those who maintained for many years that he was writing in a total vacuum without any awareness of the effectiveness of his ideas. Furthermore, his strong pianistic capabilities certainly would have given him wide experience in hearing the effects of virtually everything before committing it to fair copy, too, most especially in his countless songs that reflect or encapsulate much of the content of his larger works.

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line-height:115%”>A career in music?

line-height:115%”>The prevailing societal view of musicians at the time and place of Ives’s youth was not encouraging. Ives’s father, George, had provided ample demonstration of what one could expect as a musician in provincial America. Ill paid, generally not respected, and forced to eke out whatever living one’s musical activities could provide, these would have been humiliating things for any young person to witness. Despite the influence his father played in his upbringing, the luminary musical foundation that he had provided, and the plentiful respect he had earned within his own household, Ives was all too aware of his father’s lowly societal status for having chosen music as a career. Musicians who enjoyed lofty perches of public acclaim were able to escape this fate, however, being deemed somehow socially acceptable only because the vast majority of them were European, or European trained, and seen thus as emanating from a “sophisticated” culture, far out of the range of small town musical culture.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Someone witty once remarked that the definition of an expert was “anyone from more than fifty miles away.” At the turn of the twentieth century, because the dominant cultural traditions of Europe still were regarded as the default rulers of the arts in America, there was no one more likely to be greeted with enthusiasm and success in the concert hall than an artist from the other side of the Atlantic. Privileged American nationals traditionally were sent to study in European conservatories to complete their musical education, something not unlike the higher societal “finishing schools for girls” in days of old. Somehow, this final touch added an enhanced aura of legitimacy to an American-raised musician’s quest for acceptance amongst the famous names from overseas. Charles Ives not only resented the implications of the perceived European superiority, but also stood little chance of having the opportunity presented him to study there.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>However, there was more in play. Frank R. Rossiter,
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as well as Stuart Feder,
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advanced the additional perspective that music was not seen as a particularly masculine profession. In the Danbury of Ives’s youth, business, medical and academic professionals, lawyers, and enterprising tradesmen—“solid” professions—were seen as admirable, the hopes of every parent for the next generation. In a culture with a pioneering past, even common laborers were likely more valued than musicians—people who found ways to provide for their families through “honest toil.” If musicians were the occasional providers of entertainment of genteel social clubs and local gatherings, as a livelihood, most definitely, this was not something to be confused with real employment or actual work. Traces of this patronizing attitude can be seen even to this day, even in developed regions of the country; there can be hardly a professional musician who has not heard the question: “That’s wonderful, but what do you do for a living?” When up against, say, the sport of football, playing music is still considered “artsy-craftsy,” even a sissy pastime by many. One can easily see how the young Ives would have preferred not to be perceived in this way, how he wished to do better and be respected more than his father. And Ives liked playing sports.

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115%”>Although a few of the more successful homegrown musicians had escaped this stereotype, these individuals were more likely to be embraced only by the upper crust of society. The young Ives, regarded locally as a musical prodigy, could for the moment escape negative stereotyping through his tender age and talent. Society has always seen great charm in a precocious youngster; everyone knew Charlie would grow up and get a real job. Thus one must ask what young man would willingly take on a musician’s shabby lot in life within a country bursting with new opportunities amongst the more “respectable” professions? Some young composers might have dared to venture into these precarious waters; some might even have succeeded. However, perhaps their circumstances were better than those of a small town youngster. If Ives chose not to take on music as a livelihood, who can tell him he was wrong?

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Ives also had to accommodate his family’s status. Many of his relatives were members of the “higher set”; well-known in Danbury for generations, from Ives’s perspective he would have been acutely aware of being a poor relation as a member of George Ives’s
mso-fareast-language:JA”> family
line-height:115%”>—headed by one who was unable as a musician, or even as a businessman, to provide the kind of living that might have gained a degree of respect from the community. Indeed, looking for a way out, George also had been confined to the same humiliating status in business, before and after trying his hand at full-time music making. As a musician Ives must have considered his chances similarly doomed. Thus, in Stuart Feder’s view—expressed over the course of his book—by righting those wrongs done to his father, Ives would succeed both in music and business, which is a highly credible supposition. Ives would remain deeply connected to his father throughout his entire life, even more, within weeks of entering Yale, by his father’s untimely death at age forty-nine.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Leon Botstein challenged the notion of local success in music by discussing the career of the nineteenth century New England composer, Arthur Foote, providing a contrary view of a musician’s lot. Largely an aberration in nineteenth century America, the comparison, however, is not as simple as it seems. The kind of success and societal acceptance enjoyed by Foote, and which Botstein offered to substantiate his view, was not the norm. It might have applied more to the larger population centers, where symphony concerts and the arts were more likely to be part of peoples’ lives, and an accepted part of the culture. It was also true that most domestic composers of the notoriety of Foote, or Ives’s teacher at Yale, Horatio Parker, had enjoyed the advantage and added respectability of completing their training abroad. Nevertheless they still found it necessary to supplement their incomes in many ways, from teaching to taking musical positions within the church.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Certainly universal stardom in the manner of one of the European masters, such as Gustav Mahler or Anto
115%;color:windowtext”>nin Dvořák,
line-height:115%”>was an unlikely prospect for most domestically raised musicians in America. Feder even pointed to written correspondence by the young Ives that directly raised his discomfort in assuming the life of a musician, as well as many of the reasons underlying it. Ives admitted that, growing up he had felt ashamed (living in a small American town) at the prospect of becoming a musician. Thus, what Feder and Rossiter raised was legitimate, and born out by Ives’s own words in Memos.
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text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:
none;text-autospace:none”>Thus, contrary to all manner of theories amongst historians concerning what was behind his career choice in business, it seems easy to deduce. Ives went into business out of sheer practicality, because he did not want to repeat his father’s experience in his own life. What is strange, however, are the his father’s sentiments that Ives related alongside his own, in the same breath, concerning a career in music.24 Ives saw no irony in his father’s position that if one tried to make a living from music, with only oneself to provide for, it could be justified. Otherwise, art would be compromised. But hadn’t his father followed this path, and failed to provide adequately for his family? It is an odd contradiction, to be sure, one that Ives apparently did not wish to see, though he needed little convincing that most likely he would be better off making another choice of profession.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:
none;text-autospace:none”>Since it seems quite plausible that Ives never had a particularly strong bent to pursue music professionally—his brief attempt at stardom with The Celestial Country being a temporary pipe dream that would prove too idealistic—the entry-level position he took in a Mutual Insurance Co. agency immediately upon graduating from Yale in 1898 was not the typical action of someone determined to find his way in music. Indeed, his uncle (Lyman Brewster) already had arranged for that first job in the business world. For a time, it seems, he was biding his time, hoping to make a lucky break in music. Once that ideal had failed to materialize and he fully committed to business, his passion for music would now relegate him to being a part-time composer (the writer was once told that a disgruntled Mahler used this term to describe himself!). Perhaps a reasonable solution at the time, it entailed burning an all-too-short candle at both ends. Ives was passionate about both, and in no way saw his business interests as merely expedient or a means to an end, a point often overlooked. Considering his success in the process of reinventing life insurance and bringing credibility back to it, not to mention building the largest agency in the country—at the same time producing a musical output that would dwarf that of many full-time composers—one can only wonder how he could have managed such a massive work load and incredible balancing act. Moreover, one might ask what kind of physical price would be paid from many stressful years of life alternately behind a business desk or all day and a piano half the night, not to mention all weekend long. Such a lifestyle seems inconceivable, but it has become part of the Ives mystique: a near super-human reputation fully earned.

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line-height:115%”>Henry Cowell, and the awakening

line-height:115%”>Largely credited with having “discovered” Ives well after he had ceased composing (just before 1930), Henry Cowell was to remain a highly significant force during the rest of Ives’s life and beyond. Although others had championed Ives before Cowell (Henry Bellemann, Nicolas Slonimsky, Robert Schmitz, and Clifton Furness), no one up until this time had made the mission such a lifelong passion, or had, perhaps, the quite promotional flair of Cowell. As a much younger composer, he was one of a new breed of American avant-garde figures that had become very fashionable amongst an emerging societal “set” that embraced the progressive arts. He saw Ives as the needed paternal figurehead for the new avant-garde in American music. Doing his best to rescue him from oblivion, while endeavoring to make sure he was seen and appreciated as a revolutionary kindred spirit, his actions did not in any way approximate the projections of Magee.25 Cowell might have unintentionally exaggerated certain aspects of Ives’s life and work out of misunderstanding or sheer enthusiasm; however, the deliberate fabrication alleged in much of revisionism—critics would be well advised to cut Cowell a little slack; without him, Ives might have again slipped back into the shadows. (See “Ives Legend,” Chapter 11, and Appendix 1.)

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line-height:115%”>Ives the craftsman

line-height:115%”>If the sole impression of Ives has been formed by exposure only to his more radical compositions, and in the absence of any idea of the succession of events or musical developments that led to them, questions about the composer’s expertise might be raised. Even some of those who had a legitimate claim to their own expertise took this ill-judged position repeatedly during Ives’s day. However, since many examples of accessible, extremely craftsmanly, beautiful, relatively conventionally oriented late romantic-styled music came from the very same pen, clearly Ives was no dilettante; in fact, he was a master.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Of Ives’s wildly radical compositions, John Kirkpatrick, the legendary Ives scholar and pianist (who also knew him well), was clear that Ives fully heard in his mind all the complexities and sonorities of his music; nothing was an accident, unless he planned it that way, nor was it the result of anything other than the highest of musical skills.26 For doing so, Ives received his fair share of criticism, but was a figure living to true to his being, and who had found the path to his own destiny, not towards that which others would steer him.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”> Perhaps, however, the most remarkable traits of Ives’s work are its symbolic representations and spiritual aspirations, beyond being “merely” that of the pioneer, innovator and perceived American nationalist. Ives’s greatness also is primarily not about being ahead of his time, but more the unique and extraordinary depths that he plumbed. It was a Transcendental mission in life and music that culminated only when he could travel no further.

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REFERENCES

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line-height:115%”>1.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Charles E. Ives, Memos, ed, John Kirkpatrick (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972), 106.

line-height:115%”>2.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Vivian Perlis, Charles Ives Remembered, an Oral History (University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL, 1974).

line-height:115%”>3.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Stuart Feder, Charles Ives: “My Father’s Song,” a Psychoanalytic Biography (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1992).

line-height:115%”>4.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Frank R. Rossiter,
normal”>Charles Ives & His America
(Liveright, New York, 1975).

line-height:115%”>5.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Gayle Sherwood Magee,
normal”>Charles Ives Reconsidered
(University of Illinois Press, Chicago, IL, 2008), 92–93.

line-height:115%”>6.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Perlis, 44.

line-height:115%”>7.
 10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Ibid., 155.

line-height:115%”>8.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Bernard Herrmann, “Four Symphonies of Charles Ives,” Modern Music 22 (May–June 1945): 222; in Charles Ives and his World, ed. J. Peter Burkholder, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1996), 402.

line-height:115%”>9.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Perlis, 213.

line-height:115%”>10.
10.0pt;line-height:115%;color:windowtext”> David Nicholls, “‘The Unanswered Question of Her Son’s Biography’: New Thoughts on Mollie Ives,” Journal of the Society for American Music 5 (2011): 95–111.

line-height:115%”>11.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Leon Botstein, “Innovations and Nostalgia: Ives, Mahler, and the Origins of Modernism,” in Charles Ives and his World, ed. Burkholder, 36.

line-height:115%”>12.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Ibid., 41.

line-height:115%”>13.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Op. cit., n.11.

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line-height:115%”>14.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Perlis, 172.

line-height:115%”>15.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Ives, Memos, 76.

line-height:115%”>16.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Michael Broyles, “Charles Ives and the American Democratic Tradition,” in Charles Ives and his World, ed. Burkholder, 118–160.

line-height:115%”>17.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Charles Ives, Ives Plays Ives, New World Records,
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>B000ETRM9E (LP) [1980]; CRI 810 (CD) [1999].

line-height:115%”>18.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Goddard Lieberson, “An American Innovator; Charles Ives,” in Charles Ives and his World, ed. Burkholder, 378.

line-height:115%”>19. Rossiter, 147.

line-height:115%”>20. Ibid., 154.

line-height:115%”>21.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Rossiter, 23–24, 28–31.

line-height:115%”>22.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Feder, 119.

line-height:115%”>23.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Ives, Memos, 130.

line-height:115%”>24.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Ibid., 131.

line-height:115%”>25.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Magee, 151–60.


normal”>26.
 Perlis, 221–224.



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 12.0pt;line-height:115%”>CHAPTER 2


 12.0pt;line-height:115%”>The music

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11.0pt;line-height:115%”>ith his quintessentially American, Transcendentalist inspired outlook, Ives would formulate new techniques that shared progressively less with the models of his European counterparts of the late romantic German musical tradition. Even when there are direct parallels across the Atlantic with some of Ives’s innovations, their use and philosophical incorporation puts them entirely at odds with his applications of them, as well as forging a sound that could have emerged only from the North American continent—that of the New World. Ives not only had created it virtually single-handedly, and in near total isolation, also successfully capturing the essence of the philosophies that had guided him. He had traveled journey along his own road, taking his place alongside that of his philosophical guide, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>One cannot proceed meaningfully without understanding the elements of Ives’s personal journey. Aside from the predictive facets of his music that always have gained him enthusiastic attention, there are profoundly distinctive cultural aspects, too. Born and raised in New England in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Ives was thoroughly steeped in old American traditions and folklore. These years also were happy ones it seems, so it ought not to be seen as surprising that their residual effect would feature prominently in Ives’s makeup and character. Far from the type of upbringing he might have experienced had he been raised in Europe, this was pioneer stuff, plain and simple, with a heavy dose of Civil War culture thrown into the bargain.

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Nineteenth century Danbury

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line-height:115%”>Danbury Years

line-height:115%”>(1874-1893)

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line-height:115%”>Ives’s road to the stars might have never made it out of in Danbury had it not been for something extraordinary about his psyche, his perceptions of daily life, and the attention lavished upon him by his father, George Ives (the local town bandleader and music teacher). George Ives gave his son a thorough musical grounding, including the primary elements of theory that included traditional harmony and counterpoint, as well an immersion in the music of the masters, such as Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. George also would bequeath his son a love of good music, his musical outlook and perspective, a wide exposure to the music identified with American tradition, Congregationalist and revivalist hymns of camp meetings, and most especially, his unusual interest in natural acoustic and other auditory phenomena, and perhaps most significantly of all, his encouragement of musical discovery, as well as his cultural and spiritual heritage.

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line-height:115%”>George Ives, though a remarkable theorist1 (whose insights would impact his son over his entire life), being a bandleader only, was unable to offer a composer’s more broadly based tools. As a performer, too, one can only surmise the degree of expertise that he had, although Ives did reference his father’s multiple skills on various instruments, including the cornet, French horn, and even the violin. Considering that his son was a genius and keyboard prodigy, would it not be realistic to presume that George would have possessed some of the same latent DNA, if untapped through limited opportunity?

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line-height:115%”>Regardless, outside the four walls of the family home, George Ives was not seen as particularly gifted, successful, or accomplished, a myth perpetrated even today by those who wish to deny Charles Ives’s early and formative musical background. All too frequently dismissed glibly, instead of acknowledged as Ives’s most important formative influence, under his father’s guidance, Ives’s penchant for new musical avenues began to appear; early works such as the polytonal Psalm 67 and Variations on “America” directly reflect it. One ought not forget that such works emanated within Brahms’s lifetime! No less remarkable, however, is at least one movement from the slightly later Three Harvest Home Chorales (1902), at the heart of what has been termed his experimental period. Although subject to a later reconstruction, one can confidently take it that most (if not, indeed, all) of the utterly amazing groundbreaking aspect of the work belongs authentically to the early date, because some of the original manuscripts have survived.

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line-height:115%”>The religious music so often at the heart of much of Ives’s music belonged to three different traditions: revivalist hymn tunes of camp meetings, those of more formal “high” churches, and those more associated with the less traditional Congregationalist and Unitarian churches; the colloquial “old time religion” found in the “fervor” of the people in the first of these categories would remain an enduring part of his life. With his wide experience as an organist, Charles Ives also had a sizable resource of the latter two categories to draw from. Although a Congregationalist, Ives always considered that the more eclectic religious musical resources of camp meetings reflected the highest aspirations of the people. Because his father had shown him that if something was performed with conviction, its sophistication, even its sound, did not matter. George Ives made clear he was more interested in musical communication than overly the refinement of sound—a “superficial” quality that, for the younger Ives, reflected a self-conscious trait of now-stagnant confinements, artificially imposed by an aging traditional European culture.

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line-height:115%”>Ives the dreamer

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line-height:115%”>However, other influences too would stake their claims as well. At Yale (1894-1898) under his teacher Horatio Parker, Ives would be thoroughly immersed in that very European musical tradition, most especially how to write the larger compositional structures his father had been unable to teach him. Additionally during this time, and after he had relocated to New York, Ives further would be exposed to another veritable goldmine of popular musical idioms and sounds that emerged to flourish in the new century: Ragtime, Tin Pan Ally, Cakewalk, even Minstrel music amongst the growing resource of popular musical styles he would draw from. Hard as it would have been at the time for a serious-minded, purely classically oriented musician to appreciate, this wide cross section of seemingly unrelated vernacular musical styles would add the unlikeliest of components within some truly viable music. In Ives’s hands they provided a lasting bond to his formative years and cultural heritage.

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line-height:115%”>Regardless, for the young Ives, in the absence of some meteoric success, it was unlikely that he would ever be able to make the kind of living that could diffuse his uneasy discomfort of a career in music. Briefly entertaining the prospect, however, Parker’s own meteoric rise to domestic fame provided the model. If similarly successful, the larger Ives family—even his old Danbury community—might concede that he had attained a livelihood worthy of respect, bringing, too, some honor to his father’s memory. Thus, some four years after graduating, he arranged for a New York premiere in 1902 of his most significant work of the time, a cantata, The Celestial Country. It was based not only in the German musical tradition, but also patterned on his teacher’s most celebrated oratorio, Hora Novissma, the very work that in 1893 had catapulted Parker into prominence and respectability as an American composer, and the year that Ives had left home to attend private school (Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, Connecticut) before entering Yale.

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line-height:115%”>In spite of the predominantly conservative language of the music, the very essence of its title showed that Ives might already have had his sights set on a distant destination; indeed, such possible allusions appear even in other early works. The text referred to far away visions of a fantastic celestial setting, a shimmering place where glorious spiritual oneness with the creator would be encompassed within one’s existence and into eternity; was this something, perhaps, akin to the transcendental ideal? The Celestial City in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s outlandishly adventurous The Celestial Rail-road immediately comes to mind, too, of course, and although Hawthorne’s tale was wild and hardly comforting, it should be no surprise that this fictional work later did, in fact, form the mighty inspiration behind some of Ives’s more important music during his mature compositional period.

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line-height:115%”>Ives clearly had hitched his star temporarily to a style of composition that he believed might better aid his chances of success at the time—The Celestial Country being a romantic work very much in the European mold—although the likelihood that it was his intention to stick with that idiom in the long term is inconceivable. Although the performance was relatively well received in the review in the New York Times, and couched in positive terms overall, nevertheless the less than ecstatic reception accorded it at the premiere cemented Ives’s discomfort sufficiently, apparently, to cause him finally to reject any thought of music as a career. In Ives’s eyes his best effort had been damned with faint praise, as he inscribed the words, “damn rot and worse,” across the review; either it was a reflection of the music, or more likely the review. (Ives’s crankiness, thus, is evident from an early age, it seems! Feder’s theory for such temperament developing in later years thus goes out the window…see Chapter 11.)

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line-height:115%”>Respectability as a musician

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line-height:115%”>Strangely, Frank. R. Rossiter considered that because Ives had made a little money supplying eminently accessible music for various functions—notably religious—during and immediately after his college years, somehow this was at odds with his stated reservations about making more esoteric, less commercially-viable music a career! What is so improper about just trying to survive during one’s early days of independence from whatever skills one has at one’s disposal? Indeed, Magee effectively laid this issue to rest.2 Must Ives be judged repeatedly according to standards rarely applied to others?

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line-height:115%”>With no desire within Ives’s larger family to help with the financing of a period of study in Europe, his self-funded production of The Celestial Country undoubtedly was his last-ditch effort to pull a musical career out of a proverbial hat, in the absence of a European pedigreed stamp of approval. However, in The Celestial Country, it is easy to see that Ives had completely suppressed his own voice. The music does not sound like Ives, because Parker’s language was not authentic to him; Ives almost sold his soul in a deal that turned out to be no bargain. Even if success with that work had allowed him to introduce his real voice to audiences,
normal”>The Celestial Country
provided an early focus instead to follow what resonated within him. Coincident with his disappointment over the premiere, Ives resigned his prestigious position as organist at Central Presbyterian Church in New York and “quit music.” Better to let it all go than hold out unrealistic hope. What chance would he have had to make a decent living as a serious composer of any kind, to be taken seriously as a European composer? The sorry lot of the majority of home grown musicians—that of his father before him—would also be his, and thus, music would be an avocation of his own determination. Though his choice cemented his musical isolation, Ives had quit only enslavement to irrelevance.

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line-height:115%”>Finally feeling free to write in any manner he wished, Ives finally rejected the European model, and returned to develop the more radical musical adventures of his pre-Yale days. New innovative works began to appear that explored specific ideas, including cyclical organization, and even the avoidance of tonality through equal distributions of all twelve available Western pitches. Meanwhile, Ives’s world was experiencing some dramatic upheavals, personally and in business, in ways that would impact all that followed. By the time it was over Ives had fully developed the technical means to properly reflect his visions; drawing from the past, present, and ultimately the future, he had reinstated, too, many ideas that he had shared with his father and had been the subject of Parker’s ridicule and scathing ire. Taking Parker’s rejections personally, Ives would validate these ideas, and elevate his father. There are other indicators for Ives’s apparent slight of Parker; he is known to have long harbored resentment that Parker required him to write the major movement (the first) of his First Symphony in an utterly conventional idiom in order to graduate, perhaps most notably that the movement conclude in the same key as the beginning! Although he conformed nevertheless, Ives incorporated a few unconventional aspects for which he was able to gain his teacher’s reluctant agreement. Regardless, he was never happy about it, an all-too-familiar experience throughout his relationship with Parker, whose negative reactions to anything less than conventional eliciting the same response.

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line-height:115%”>Beyond the Yale years, the period of development moved gradually from the secular via radical innovation towards the purely spiritual, finding a language that could transcend the mortal. Ives would touch upon virtually every twentieth century technical musical innovation along the way, often independently of the work of his European contemporaries, and frequently preceding them. Because in the 1890’s Ives already had tackled radical ideas, such as multiple keys and chords based on new intervals, clearly his more conventional works were not the sole occupants of his mind even in the years before The Celestial Country. And because of what he took to be the rejection of what he had written in the European mold, it might help further account for his open resentment of the dominant European musicians of the day, their models, dictates, and ultimately limitations. It was as if they had rejected him too; some of them actually had, of course, as Ives vividly recalled frequently in Memos, getting even with them almost with relish.

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line-height:115%”>The spiritual growth in Ives’s music is worth considering. With no direct references to any specific goal he had in mind, the only clues had long existed—his Congregationalist upbringing fused with Transcendentalism, and the philosophies of Emerson in particular. Thus, the more earthbound post-Civil War culture, its familiar popular melodies and hymns, his family’s values, and his father’s nurturing and open musical perspective would inspire a receptive mind, further to be elevated by Transcendental thinking, his core religiosity, even some awe-inspiring landscapes in the nearby Adirondacks. Ives would reach out to the very universe of which he was a part. And even when writing music in the mold of his teacher or songs or church music for hire, surely he sensed cosmic horizons.

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line-height:115%”>Curiously, although Ives’s first large-scale efforts projected Americana at every turn, they still were built using European styles and formats, confirming that he had not rejected the European musical tradition, a frequent misinterpretation often still perpetuated—although he had rejected the culture it represented. It is common, therefore, to find, even in in Ives’s mature music, strong links to traditional musical idiomatic language and methods running parallel with his newfound techniques—a striking (and to some, perplexing) attribute in which his approach differs greatly from most of his contemporaries. Even though many of the vernacular melodies he quoted had European origins, it was the subtle colloquial distinctions slowly grafted on them that provided variation and nuance. Their identities eventually spoke of the ordinary people of Ives’s New England, these melodies and others by local composers, such as George F. Root, commanding Ives’s attention as he cemented the spirit and values of his place in time.

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line-height:115%”>The key to the new sounds

line-height:115%”>Although the youthful Ives was fortunate to be admitted to Yale, barely qualifying for entrance, his attendance there would prove pivotal to his eventual “counter outlook” he adopted, because Horatio Parker would not entertain the open-mindedness that was at the heart of Ives’s late father’s core. Reactively, ultimately Ives not only would consciously diminish Parker’s influence, but also attribute all manner of forward-looking experimentation to his father; although the record does not provide unqualified evidence of the latter, and there is little that can be reliably substantiated outside the few recollections of those who knew him,3 his “Essay on Music Theory” supports it. Regardless, if actual physical evidence beyond his writing of his attitude and interest in auditory phenomena is circumstantial, his son’s testament to it is strong.

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line-height:115%”>What set George Ives apart indeed were his unique answers to the challenges of tonality that late romantic music had unearthed, even his early thinking conceptually in twelve tones, which caused his young son to question conventional rules and limitations of Western music. George Ives’s teaching, as demonstrated by his essay, provided an impetus that begged confident strides beyond age-old accepted practices. George Ives’s openness extended, too, to practically anything in music; it had validity, as long as an understanding of the process was in place, with proper theory and grounding. Maybe singularly important amongst all that has been left out of the equation, even deliberately so, misunderstood, underestimated or just overlooked, it is surely what caused the younger Ives to credit his father so highly, while increasingly relegating all others to the basement of his consciousness. Rather than self-serving ingratitude towards Parker, as Magee (in her book) alleged, it was his father, thus, who really gave Ives the keys to everything significant he would do. Those who do not understand why Ives would appear to slight Parker and elevate his father should understand that he did not misrepresent either of them. It is, however, why he was not eager to acknowledge the enhanced compositional skills Parker had given him, because they reinforced the formulaic dogma that stifled his authentic voice. Ives outgrew Parker. If others have misinterpreted Ives’s attitude to mean that he rejected every aspect of Parker’s training while almost hypocritically still retaining its foundations, in fact, he had built upon it and moved it to different ground. This was true Transcendentalism.

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11.0pt;line-height:115%”>Further, as Magee inferred, that Ives could not have succeeded without Parker’s training, it is clear that had Ives followed Parker’s way, he would not have found his own.4 Early on, Ives showed considerable aptitude at the keyboard, and was something of a prodigy. His father had, in fact, tried in vain to convince the shy teenager to become a concert pianist; it is quite realistic to suppose that had Ives wanted it, a performing career would have been within his reach. His private recordings, admittedly made far beyond his prime when decidedly frail, reveal an extraordinary fluency and freedom of expression, not to mention a surprisingly sizable lingering residue of commanding technique.5 Even late in Ives’s life, composer Carl Ruggles considered he had never “heard better.”6 However, Ives’s notorious shyness would make sure he remained uncomfortable with the slightest thought or suggestion of being showcased as a soloist in the public arena. Able to earn some money during his teenage years as a church organist, Ives would hold some fairly significant positions during and after his Yale years. There can be no doubt also that he acquired a broad knowledge of music from his experience; that it was instrumental in the larger development of his compositional skills, as have similar experiences for many composers throughout history, cannot be in doubt. Ives, thus always had access to great music, and by the mid-1890s would have amassed a degree of expertise on the structure and language of musical composition. Therefore, Ives’s background alone, coupled to his extraordinary natural talent, ultimately would have enabled Ives to acquire the skills that Parker had bestowed upon him anyway. Such would be far from abnormal amongst many of the greatest composers of history. It is not arguable that the majority of them have emerged out of situations far removed from the university system, or indeed any similarly advantageous academic situation, many, such as Brahms, having no musical education at all. Magee’s viewpoint does not concur with history.

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line-height:115%”>The developing model

line-height:115%”>In all of the arts there are many parallels; seldom do they proceed totally out of step with each other. Ives’s music fitted this profile only to a degree. Although he pioneered virtually all of the stylistic and technical “cues” ahead of other composers of the time, his use of them, collectively, usually is far from synchronized with any twentieth century artistic movement. Usually, his contemporaries limited themselves to a single innovation or school of writing at a time, not the free interplay found in Ives’s music. Seeing them only as a means to a creative end, not the end itself, and certainly not the manifestation of any particular theoretical approach or philosophy, typically, Ives might have been completely at ease with the simultaneous use of every technique he knew within the very same piece!
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115%”>For the listener, confusing the issue further is Ives’s comfort and ease with works not always consistently in step with his musical evolution at any given time. Ives utilized whatever would serve his needs of the moment, regardless of the mechanics, or even the esthetics that others might have deemed appropriate. When asked why he wrote music that so many people found hard to understand, he replied simply that he heard it that way. Although Ives developed many methodologies in his music that can be isolated and analyzed, those who hope to tie some overriding creative formula to his music, or some other deliberately imposed prescription, likely will be frustrated; Ives would be slave only to his imagination.
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115%”>Although the more experienced listener can detect characteristic and recognizable traits throughout Ives’s musical evolution, for someone unfamiliar with his development, the end point is so far transformed that it might seem to have come from another composer entirely.
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>It always has been fashionable, thus, amongst those who never knew Ives that he was influenced by other contemporary figures. Try as they might to link Ives’s innovations to those of others, it seems clear that most comparable new inroads occurred independently, and usually ahead of them.
115%”>Composer Goddard Lieberson, unable to fathom how Ives evolved his language, remarked that he pursued it in a vacuum; independent of other composers of the time, he was completely comfortable with his isolation.8 Try as some critics might to tie Ives’s music to other composers, Lieberson was well aware that Ives did not seem the slightest bit interested in any of their innovations, let alone wish to copy them.

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115%”>In following no rigorous development of any particular musical philosophy, Ives honed multiple trains of thought over the succeeding years. Sketching and working on countless compositions at once, the practice led to all manner of inconsistencies in writing style, with numerous related notations, and often unrelated comments all over the manuscript and sketch pages. These pages are an amazing array of complex thoughts, expressed in both musical notes and words, with directions, cross-references, conflicting dates, addresses, even ironic remarks and peoples’ names. Ives even had a habit of sketching parts of more than one work on the same sheet of manuscript paper, the order and sequence from one segment to the next not necessarily clear. People close to him remarked on the remarkable inner organization he had, despite the outward appearance of chaos. His mind was a library with everything laid out at all times in perfect order, only to become a headache later for those who were charged with deciphering it. However, anything approaching a final score or complete sketch is largely clear, consistent, even relatively neat. The so-called late revisions usually are only to small details, a practice shared by virtually all composers and unfairly applied to Ives as a criticism by those who wish to discredit his priority.

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115%”>Examples of reused and re-worked materials are plentiful, too; in almost all of Ives’s music are fragments of other works, especially the wholesale reworking of prior efforts he had abandoned—likely to him they were
normal”>all
connected. Stylistically, thus, he could be just as likely to write something wildly avant-garde one moment and revert to more a traditional idiom the next. Sometimes, stepping back represented only the completion of something started long before, while a later work might have been finished in the meantime, a unique freedom of approach manifested in his writing across an unselfconscious cross-pollinated musical fiber.

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115%”>Instances of multiple periods of Ives’s development might coexist in separate places within some works, too. The third movement of the late work, his
normal”>Fourth Symphony
, immediately comes to mind; out of the blinding blaze of complexity and modernity of the second movement the serene and utterly orthodox slow third movement emerges, relocated and reworked from a much earlier source (the First String Quartet). However, in Ives’s hands, not only does its inclusion work in the context, but surprisingly, it serves the larger purpose of recovery from one musical adventure (the Scherzo) and preparation for the spiritual journey of the next (the
normal”>Finale
). So integral was it to the symphony that it appears Ives lost, or preferred to lose track of its earlier origins.
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During later phases of his output, a return to earlier language often can be found in his songs, too, where Ives sometimes reused or reworked existing materials, even while engaged in writing radical large-scale works. Flexibility of purpose, thus, was a hallmark in all that Ives did. As such, seldom content with anything as he had left it, the ideas continued to grow long after they had hatched and left the nest, typically well beyond the original works’ completion. Three related examples, two of them for chorus and orchestra, share or set related musical material; the third is a late reworking of the first. They date from a period that reveal Ives’s passions about what was going on in the world leading up to and immediately following World War I—a time that saw him give full rein to his ideals and passions, both musically and in social activism—even as the world became increasingly broken and beyond his aspirations becoming a reality:

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115%”>Lincoln the Great Commoner,

line-height:115%”> of c.1914, pays tribute to Lincoln’s leadership, as well as the qualities of the country so identified with his era. The almost angular vocal line seems to represent a projection of Lincoln’s strength and resolve, in some ways not unlike Ives’s projection of Emerson in the Concord Sonata. The musical language used by Ives is already mature, and shares many attributes with his other works of the period.

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115%”>An Election,
written in 1920, set to music Ives’s total disenchantment with the political establishment, following his initial disillusionment with Woodrow Wilson, and his subsequent 1920 defeat to Warren J. Harding. Ives effectively poured scorn on all politicians in this musical broadside, and it is clear that the bottom of his idealistic world had dropped out. The music owes certain cues to the earlier work, but its agitated mood, in both the choral and orchestral writing, sets it apart, and the representations of Lincoln’s strength have now been transferred to the voice of the people. The ending and other materials, however, were borrowed directly from Lincoln the Great Commoner; the later orchestral version of that work leading to confusion about its date of composition. The extended development of the material makes complete sense in this context, and illustrates how it had continued to grow in Ives’s mind during the intervening years.

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Lincoln the Great Commoner,
the 1922-1923 version of the song, for chorus and orchestra, though essentially the same music as the earlier song, now includes a few late innovations, not only in its advanced and stark orchestration, but also more especially some dramatic moments in the choral writing, reminiscent of huge crowds.
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>It is worth pointing out that these sounds seem to anticipate those used by György Ligeti in his Requiem, some forty years later. The unison chorus further underscores Lincoln’s stern resolve. Dating from near the end of Ives’s most creative period, the focus likely was the remainder of the Universe Symphony sketches after 1923.

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line-height:115%;tab-stops:.5in”>Multiple orbits

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115%”>It is hard to listen to anything Ives wrote after 1910 and not be struck by the astounding complexity of textures of his musical universe. Remarkable for more than just the ease with which he blended multiple idioms, the complex interactions of numerous separate components command the listener’s attention. Offset tonalities and rhythms compete like the intersections of stellar orbits in a densely populated star cluster. Precise alignments from part to part thus were not necessarily intended, so for players of Ives’s day, their struggles to make sense of what he had written must have been further impacted by the confusion of their immediate surroundings. The challenges were at one time considered so great that some works, such as the mighty Fourth Symphony, had to wait almost fifty years for a complete performance. Even today, airings of most of his music are not commonplace, the difficulties and complexities associated with them widely known, despite a growing familiarity.

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line-height:115%”>Even Ives’s most conservative music usually is laced with unusual rhythms and unlikely tonal cadences that fight the instincts and make it difficult to play, too. Throughout Memos his own words show that he was not particularly sympathetic to the professional musical community of his day, as they struggled to make sense of his writing, all while insulting his work. Railing against them (usually a European “professor,” or some such) for their perceived ineptitude, Ives could not understand what others found so perplexing in what was natural to him. Rhythmically, his musical lines might look awkward on the page, though they sound deceptively simple; actually, they simulate a level of freedom reminiscent of the instinctive flexibilities in recordings of Ives’s own playing. Such is the nature of Ives; much of his piano music comes without bar lines, meaning specific speeds or sense of meter were not always amongst his priorities. Considered, perhaps, the ultimate evolution of the old European tradition of rubato, it demonstrates how Ives retained some European roots, yet redefined them in new terms.

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line-height:115%”>There are issues, too, with pure practicalities and the costs relative to Ives’s musical ensembles.
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> The Universe Symphony,
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for example (the culminating focus of this book), requires an unusual orchestra of highly specific instrumentation, rendering many musicians present (read “paid”) unlikely to be needed for the remainder of the concert program. Sometimes more than one conductor is required, too, because Ives often wrote in multiple speeds. Furthermore, a practical difficulty lies in the problem of attracting audiences when so many music lovers are left bewildered by his music, such that even now it still is greeted by mixed acceptance and risky concert attendance. The public’s level of openness and sophistication, it seems, has scarcely budged since Ives’s time.

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line-height:115%”>The “lily pads”

line-height:115%”>Critics have attacked Ives for reveling in dissonance, even harshness. They have said that he would use these techniques largely and deliberately just to upset what Ives termed the “lily pads.” This analysis is misguided, too, as in so many other instances. There is no doubt that Ives exerted his resentment of unchallenging, “nice” music, by writing bold, stark sonorities. Certainly he took an impish delight in shaking up stuffy and timid listeners, although it was not why he used what may seem harsh sounds. To expand the musical range and language, and to keep it alive and viable instead of merely “letting the ears sit back in an easy chair” (another “Ivesism”), required something other than the familiar, comfortable or consonant. Consonance is an acquired relative perception, anyway; long before, George Ives’s teaching (as exemplified in his essay) had introduced to him the phenomenon. Regardless, Ives was fully capable of touching upon sentiment without any resulting cheapness. In many ways, one can draw a parallel to Beethoven, who dared early nineteenth century listeners to embrace bold, startling new music, without sacrificing its expressive power. However, does one ever have the sense that Beethoven’s music is insipid, mawkish or saccharin? Ives’s music is much like this.

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115%”>Thus, Ives believed music could not grow if it fell back on comfortable well-trodden paths, lest it wither on the vine of complacency; in driving to keep its vital force alive, he would bring it to his own new continent of growing confidence and optimism. His musical vision required that the listener break down comfortable musical boundaries and preconceived biases, and look to a brave new universe of possibilities. As a product of the great emerging superpower, Ives’s brave music does indeed herald the New World, the music of the first truly avant-garde composer.

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REFERENCES

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line-height:115%”>1.
Ives, George, “Essay in Music Theory,” Ives Collection, np 7398-415, Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

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line-height:115%”>2.
Gayle Sherwood Magee, Charles Ives Reconsidered (University of Illinois Press, Chicago, Illinois, 2008), 63–64.

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line-height:115%”>3.
Vivian Perlis, Charles Ives Remembered, an Oral History (University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 1974), 16; Stuart Feder, Charles Ives: “My Father’s Song,” a Psychoanalytic Biography (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1992), 49.

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line-height:115%”>4.
Magee, 48.

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line-height:115%”>5.
  Magee, 8.

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line-height:115%”>6.
Charles Ives, Ives Plays Ives, CRI 810 (CD) [1999].

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line-height:115%”>7.
 Perlis, 173.

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line-height:115%”>8.
 Ibid, 208.

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line-height:115%”>9.
Charles E. Ives, Memos, ed. by John Kirkpatrick, (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972), 66.



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 115%”>CHAPTER 3


12.0pt;line-height:115%”>Originality and influences

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line-height:115%;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold;mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>Quite possibly the pre-eminent twentieth century musical pioneer, Ives often either is credited as being the creator of wholly unique music, in and of itself, or criticized for retaining connections to European models and influences. And because Ives could not let go of his immersion in the nineteenth century, sometimes it is said that he was not quite the pioneer everyone had previously thought—in the context of the time in which he lived. But are any of these positions accurate or fair? Regarding the latter, if one is to understand correctly what Leon Botstein meant in his largely positive article,1 (and certainly he is an enthusiast of the composer), he apparently considered that one needs to embrace all aspects of twentieth century modernism—artistically, technically, culturally and societally—to be considered as having demonstrated “exceptionalism” within it. It does not take a very wide leap, however, to recognize that Ives was truly exceptional in the context in which he worked, and that he cannot be defined by such restrictive, limiting terminology.

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115%”>As to the former, what makes up originality in anything? Because the Transcendentalists believed in the renewal of existing materials, that nothing was new into itself, their perception was profound. Close examination reveals that nothing exists in a total vacuum; all composers have been influenced by their predecessors, place in history, default culture, and events occurring within their own personal circumstances. Those who think that Ives was the only figure in history ever to have functioned independently of all such influences—or who should be criticized because he was not—have not thought the premise through. Originality in music is defined by what a composer takes to make it his own. Similarly, modernism in Ives’s hands was an extraordinary thing; he achieved a unique and seemingly contradictory synthesis in which he expressed his own experiences in the nineteenth century, in a totally modern, and ultimately futuristic, idiomatic language of the twentieth century in which he lived during his most creative years, projecting it even beyond. In this respect Ives seems truly unique, which perhaps is why so many have faltered when attempting to sum him up, or assign him a place in the grand order of things.

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115%”>The raw materials of pitch and rhythm are the same in most western music. Pitch consists of only twelve notes in the scale, and a similarly limited though far wider spectrum of chords built out of combinations of them, sometimes in multiple octaves. The mind also recognizes the doubling of their frequencies over successively higher octaves, providing a clear road map in which the designated pitch (remember, there are only twelve) is recognizable as the same note with each doubling—except for sounding higher! Obviously also only a finite number of possible combinations of pitches exists, as well as potential successions of them; further, by reducing the entire spectrum to the twelve possible recognizable pitches (regardless of their octave displacement), all musical lines and pitch combinations can be reduced to a maximum of twelve (with, of course, repeated tones within them), a fact that gave rise to the organization of twentieth century music according to the twelve “pitch classes.” The significance in this detail is that both Charles Ives and his father were exploring integer notation well ahead of those who have become closely identified with it, such as Schönberg, Webern and Berg.

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line-height:115%”>Another type of frequency involves rhythm, the instinctive sense in all of us of pulse within the progress of time. Taking a simple click and repeating it at ever-faster frequencies, it, too, takes on pitch; thus, rhythm and pitch are more than casually related. Offering almost endless groupings and subdivisions, the impositions of these rhythmic divisions upon identifiable pitches produce that phenomena recognizable as music; regardless of intent, the human mind always seeks to impose order and patterns within it. Rhythm, however, gives music life, motion, and the power to impose a physical response, such as the instinct to move with it in coordination.

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115%”>The composer, however, seeks to impose his own order upon both these types of frequency to communicate his thoughts—and amazingly—convey the human experience. Why certain arrangements of sounds have the effect they do, especially one’s emotions and feelings, is one of the great mysteries and miracles of music. Such is the art of composition, whereby the powers of the mind reorder and assemble selections from the available raw materials into new and (hopefully) original interplay. By some inexplicable quirk of consciousness, the result has the power to express many things. But most significantly for this discussion, originality is to a large degree subjective, because all music is built out of the same components.

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line-height:115%”>On the use of musical quotations

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line-height:115%”>Over the years numerous musicians and critics have taken issue with Ives’s frequent use of traditional American, popular and hymn tunes. Composer Elliot Carter, Ives’s fellow compatriot, roundly criticized it, as if Ives could not create his own.2 However, Carter only revealed his own shortcomings by failing to understand or recognize how, and especially why Ives infused these melodic elements into his music; they were not the primary components of the musical structures. Some have remarked that over time, these melodies will no longer be recognizable, and thus, Ives’s music will lose the unique connection with its heritage for the listener. However, only the slightest reflection reveals this position to be absurd. In view of the fact that a large portion of those tunes in Ives’s lexicon are intrinsically tied up with the Civil War era and later in the strong national identity that formed in its aftermath, for these strongly-hued melodies to fall out of the culture, or even international recognition hardly is likely.

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115%”>Ives’s musical roots showed themselves even in his early efforts at composition, vernacular “Americana” being incorporated into many of them. Quotes exist, too, in a surprisingly wide range of music from his Yale years. Typically written as extra-curricular works based on hymns for church services, they would not have been subject to Parker’s curriculum and possible rejection. Parker’s contempt for the “sweet sentimentality” of popular and hymn melodies lay behind many of Ives’s later misgivings of his Yale teacher, since those very simple melodies that Parker despised were destined to become unlikely components in Ives’s large-scale compositions. However, the First String Quartet, amongst Ives’s first substantial works to emerge along these lines, dates from his Yale years (1896) and was written under Parker’s guidance. With the hymn melodies at its core, somehow, this and a few other works from Ives’s student years that quoted familiar tunes managed to survive, showing that Parker must have had a tolerant, even kind heart, allowing some of what he opposed to stand. Because Parker, though out of step with Ives at almost every level, had encouraged his student’s growing interest in Transcendentalism. Does it explain, perhaps, his willingness to allow Ives a certain degree of freedom in his choices and treatments of compositional thematic material? Almost by some unwritten design, Ives’s incorporations of vernacular music from his own experiences played well within the Transcendental outlook, which encouraged Americans to look first to their own surroundings for a cultural and spiritual identity. Because the European tradition was trapped within its own lengthy evolution and surroundings, Ives found the formal constraints and age-old thought processes of those ways entirely unrepresentative of the spirit of the New World. (Why must everything juggle artistic considerations against the pre-decided?)

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line-height:115%”>It is important to emphasize that although Ives’s music became profoundly immersed in American lore, it does not mean that nationalism was behind its design. Ives referenced such thinking in Essays Before a Sonata,3 whereby some composers had tried to recast their own nationalistic identity into the larger German model that was the basis of their music, regardless. By deliberately and self-consciously incorporating traditional melodic elements of their own native origins into the traditional mold, the music had not grown out of genuine experience, its specific colorations simply tacked on for easy identification. Thus, being neither authentic nor personal, its core was hollow. Ives, on the other hand, had drawn from his own experiences and environment to build his music from the ground up, developing a language in which the rugged spiritual values and authentic simplicity of a pioneering people had little in common with his European counterparts.

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115%”>If Ives’s music took on actual nationalistic overtones as the First World War approached, it was in reaction to forces across the Atlantic that threatened to crush and destroy all that the New World represented, rather than an effort to exert patriotism for its own sake. The tunes he quoted were old calls to battle and fighting for freedom, recycled from his life and father’s background, rather than jingoism. Ives’s own remarks—clearly resentful of prominent German musicians of his time—reflect this sentiment; Germany, after all, was the nation at the center of the fight. Ives was anything but racially motivated, and would come to reject nationalism for its own sake, putting the freedom of all man at the top of his priorities, guided by the principles exemplified by the founding fathers in the US Constitution.

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115%”>Although Ives’s authenticity was remarkable, still it has been surprisingly misunderstood. In reflecting in no better way that nothing is new, and originality is exemplified by the reuse and reorder of what already exists, Ives had no compunction to use small quotations from
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masters as well, or even to maintain its methods within his musical language whenever he chose. After all, they were part of his experience, too; although this has baffled many commentators, it makes complete sense within the context of Transcendental philosophy.

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115%”>In Ives’s mind, quotations in his music were no different than notes, harmonies, rhythms, or even instruments—they were just resources. Would anyone accuse a twentieth century painter of lack of originality because he had used the identical colors, or even similar subjects, to those used by a painter from the nineteenth century? Ives was not the first composer to quote melodies, even in America; indeed, earlier domestic composers had done so. However, the comparison stops there. In virtually every instance, the works they produced were mere settings of these melodies, not unlike what would be considered today “arrangements” in popular music. Here, the fundamental and complete identities of the melodies are retained, but essentially they are given nothing more than a facelift—a new setting—maintaining their former full role, providing only novelty. In Ives’s music, the use of quotations is not usually more than fleeting references to them that consist of broken fragments, typically the opening few notes of any tune. Frequently, they are incorporated into unlikely settings, harmonically or rhythmically, and exist in a state of metamorphosis within broader original material, often scarcely recognizable.

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115%”>Ives also often combined multiple melodic fragments together, horizontally independent or aligning vertically, or vice versa, depending on the circumstances. Alternatively, he used sometimes just their shapes if not their exact notes, or, again, vice versa, as may be seen in the makeup of the “Quasi-Pentatonic Melody” in the Concord Sonata, or the Universe Symphony in Section C (see discussion in Appendix 2 regarding “Patch 47”)—both featuring an evolved form of Nearer, My God to Thee. Such usage of materials is unlike almost anything encountered in all Western music, not the least of which is because, within normal European practice, the majority of vernacular sources would have been considered entirely unsuited to serious artistic composition; these straightforward melodies lend themselves readily to the shuffling of their notes and rhythms.

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115%;color:windowtext”>In his volume, All Made of Tunes, J. Peter Burkholder discussed this very phenomenon; analyzing and revealing the extent of quotation in Ives’s music, he provided a detailed examination of their obvious connection between their ties to European musical culture, the gravity of which Ives was trying to escape.4 Aside from adopting Magee’s controversial new dating protocol for Ives’s music (see discussion Appendix 1), Burkholder estimated that such quotations applied to approximately a third of his entire output, a figure that might seem too conservative to anyone familiar even with a small part of Ives’s music. However, looking beyond the many large-scale compositions towards smaller forms, such as the extensive song catalog and chamber works, the assessment begins to make sense.

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115%”>Bernard Herrmann, in his earlier years amongst the new avant-garde in America, but perhaps best known as one of the greatest film composers (e.g. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho), reflected that the music of Josef Haydn (the de facto “father” of the modern symphony, string quartet and sonata form), frequently employed similarly vernacular material of his day, and no one had ever found fault with it!5 Another twentieth century figure, Béla Bartók, wrote music that was built extensively on Hungarian and Romanian folk material, especially the unique intervallic nature of its foundation—perhaps as close a direct comparison as we will find—except for the fact that Ives seldom “built” his music on the wholesale use of specific melodies. Can one recall Bartók’s music ever being criticized for such melodic inclusions? Rather, Bartók’s music is considered brilliant and inventive. There are many instances in which other major composers employed such material, from Vaughan Williams to Percy Grainger. Though these figures found much of value in incorporating folk melodies or their primary components into their compositions, Ives’s usage of vernacular material is far more diffusely connected to the whole, and more philosophically than technically, at that. Leonard Bernstein, a passionate advocate for Ives, famously made the error of confusing Ives’s use of vernacular elements with American primitivism, likening him even to the painter, Grandma Moses. Because many misunderstand the purpose of the quotations, they might be blissfully unaware that Ives’s artistic realm is in no unsophisticated way folk art, and at least in as far as its message is concerned, no more “primitive” than the philosophers who inspired it.

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115%”>Finally, it is worth commenting again that during the latter part of the twenty years of Ives’s greatest creativity, the increasingly spiritual path he trod was reflected, while secular quotes gradually became
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significant—religious quotes,
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. Even Ives’s spiritual association with what has been termed the Fate motif (the four-notes that open Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony—so named because Ives likened this quote to fate knocking at one’s door of opportunity) occupied a profound place within his music. Showing up with uncanny regularity in countless works, it appears in almost every conceivable guise from very early on. Similarly, references to various cosmic clues—stars and celestial themes merged with the spiritual (such as
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, and
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)increasingly dominated the later stages of Ives’s output. By the time the Universe Symphony appeared as he let go worldly references, the quotations were almost completely absent, save one, (significantly, it is Nearer My God to Thee), even though it had become scarcely recognizable.
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line-height:115%”>Links to other music

line-height:115%”>Despite the obvious ties to the ongoing tradition of Western culture, one does not normally associate links between Ives’s music and that of other composers. However, in the realization of the first movement of Ives’s incomplete
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by David G. Porter, there are moments that sound distinctly like Debussy, a composer that Ives openly criticized, although the movement, in totality, sounds only like Ives. (Listen to the extraordinary bass and low bell ostinato that underscores it.) Similarly, moments in Scherzo: Over the Pavements suggest neoclassical Stravinsky, but the identity of its composer still is unmistakable; this particular composition arrived on the scene many years ahead of Stravinsky’s neoclassicism. Similar suggestions appear with regularity in Ives’s music, though more often it was Ives who had anticipated another composer’s sound, idiom or technique, rather than the other way around.

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115%”>Ives’s earlier works are another matter. Touching quite openly upon the music of Dvořák, Brahms, Bach, even Tchaikovsky, for example, instead he might have been paying brief homage to them. When Ives’s choices of idiomatic notation in his piano writing correspond to those found in the piano works of the masters before him, they reveal his exposure to them, too, since the development of piano technique also is closely associated with the pianistic virtuosity of these figures.
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Was anyone so naïve that they thought that Ives had created his music in a total vacuum? The reuse of existing ideas certainly fits the Transcendental ideal, and it would be expected from any player/composer who has trained his mind and fingers around optimal ways of utilizing the instrument. Overall, it ought not to be seen as surprising that others would have trodden familiar tracks before, and that Ives—even in his capacity of uniquely innovative composer—revealed links to them.

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line-height:115%”>A musical radical

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none”>The unique combinations of seemingly unmatched methodologies in Ives’s music do not have many parallels in other composers’ work. Because his compositions were likely to encompass multiple techniques together, they conspire to make him a particularly tricky customer to unravel. (Pun intended! Ives was an inveterate punner.) Though his musical visions were very clear to him, it must have seemed everyone else was blind (or
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115%”>Ives compared peoples’ limited musical horizons to being comfortable with familiarity—beauty often being defined by what one has become accustomed to hearing.7 What is considered good is thus, “nice,” or “pretty,” even though these term communicate nothing other than one’s comfort level. Typified by polite sayings, such as, “Have a nice day,” this casually dropped expression actually projects nothing other than to have a kind of day that one likes. Pushing the musical envelope outside the easy comfort zone reaches into territory that is no longer familiar, and therefore likely is to be perceived as “ugly.” Its rejection arbitrarily summed up as bad.

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115%”>Ives encountered this problem all through his life, so one can only imagine the strength of his unwavering resolve to try to express himself according to his own terms, and in the face of condemnation and ridicule. Having affronted people’s expectations and biases, Ives’s best defense from the usual negative reaction was to take a certain delight from sheltered society “ladies” (the term could be applied equally women or men) reacting in shock at his compositions. The prankster aspect of his personality saved him from a lifetime of hurt; Ives would continue to challenge listeners to “use” their ears. To those who claim he was obsessed with maintaining the priority of his innovations, there is little evidence to substantiate the charge.

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line-height:115%”>The “isms” of music

line-height:115%”>Since Ives was slave to no particular idiom, technique, fad, or means of expression, for him, writing music was not about proving the merits of a particular musical system; it was about communicating what he wanted to say, regardless of the method(s) required. European artists, in comparison, had reached a highly refined and stylized self-awareness; deeply entrenched in their respective cultures, they followed, or established specific artistic schools of thought that followed strict tenets, prior to being replaced by other schools of artistic thought.

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115%”>Debussy, for example, took Satie's earlier excursions and evolved them into what became impressionism; as such, it defined the French avant-garde to convey fleeting imagery and senses that reflected impressionistic painting. Schönberg became entrenched in the march towards a system of pure atonality; ultimately, his twelve-tone system (dodecaphony) emerged as a complete methodology unto itself that dictated the very notation on the page and effectively escaped the sense of key centers. Following at first in the steps of the Russian “Five,” a late romantic Russian movement in which a group of composers infused the ethnicity of their culture into their music—and largely absent during the evolution of Western music—Stravinsky ultimately would unleash a short-lived burst of idiomatic
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, and the notorious premiere of The Rite of Spring in 1913. His music continued to establish or follow several schools of thought during his lifetime, Neoclassicism appearing next, in which he attempted to inject his music with some of the artistic and detached purity of the classical period composers. Stravinsky’s neoclassicism developed into a less detached style (typified by works such as the Symphony of Psalms), before moving into his late period based upon serialism, an outgrowth and evolution of Schönberg’s system that imposed similar logic and
"Times New Roman"”>order not only on pitch, but also on rhythm, harmony, tone colors, dynamics, and so forth. In the hands of countless European composers, the variety of musical styles that represented the cultures from which they emerged is one of the wonders of the twentieth century.

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115%”>Such schools of thought were not restricted to music. Picasso’s work often seemed to parallel Stravinsky’s: both worked through various periods and artistic identities. His blue period, would be followed by the pink period, both still related to romanticism, then the increasingly radical African cubism, synthetic cubism, classicism, surrealism, and more; Munch is predominantly associated with expressionism; at home in America, the architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic contributions include the stylistic cues of the school of prairie architecture; in literature, the modernism of T.S. Eliotthe list could go on. Thus, in the twentieth century and beyond, artists in all disciplines sought to establish new idioms and techniques in their own image, often seeking to be the recognized pioneers of specific methodologies and philosophies.

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115%”>In direct contrast, Ives independently pioneered or dabbled in virtually every major technique of the new century often well ahead of his contemporaries, but he would, however, remain largely unknown, his music drawing few parallels across the Atlantic; twentieth century music would be far along in its evolution before he was noticed. Ives’s music, however, was appreciated abroad before experiencing any acceptance at home; brought to Paris by Russian born Nicolas Slonimsky, himself a new émigré in the United States and great champion of his music. By the time the American avant-garde discovered him, they already would have their own approaches to composition, and although Ives became their “patron saint,” it was too late for their own language to reflect much of his sonic world. Indeed, as true products exclusively of the twentieth century, their work imbued with the faster paced culture of the times; they had no exposure to the world from which Ives’s music had emerged.

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115%”>Regardless, it is tempting to speculate what Ives’s influence might have been in different circumstances, although had he been recognized sooner, perhaps the very spark of creativity that his isolation caused might have never materialized. Eschewing the limelight during the time of his greatest productivity, he chose not to concern himself with performances of his music, of which there were none. Ives rationalized that if he had come up with anything worthwhile, time would take care of it.

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line-height:115%”>The pioneer working alone

line-height:115%”>Since Ives had foregone the stamp of audience approval, he had put himself in a position to write as he chose. Thus, totally free from any outside influence, he could work and rework his music in any way he wished, unconstrained by surviving on commissions, or pursuing them. Ives worked best as a musical loner, at very least indifferent to most contemporary composers’ work. As the years proceeded, being influenced by others was moot, although attempts to link specific characteristics of his music to them have long been made. However, Goddard Lieberson already addressed the issue succinctly (see Chapter 2). Trying to trace any direct link in Ives’s music to outside influences during his most productive and important years, even more to his early innovations, is like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Ives was a loner, almost casual, too, in regard to giving performers insight into his music, preferring, as John Kirkpatrick remarked, to enthuse about his latest musical discovery than to provide guidance to an ideal performance of an existing work.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>However, Ives is well known for his revisions, made many years after the first version or edition of some works, a practice shared perhaps by most composers. Whether awareness of other composers’ work played a role in it has been hotly contested for many years (see Appendix 1), though the limited nature of most of the revisions has been misrepresented and must be weighed into the equation; additionally, it is hard to find an instance in which any work was altered to such a degree that its fundamental identity was rendered more than slightly removed from the original.

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line-height:115%”>Ives’s counterpoint

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line-height:115%”>There has always been some misunderstanding of the precise nature of what Ives expected the listener to hear. Although he did not often have the advantage of hearing all of his finished music played (and being able to adjust the instrumentation or dynamics accordingly), one can be sure that he knew what he was doing. There always were things that were intended to weave in and out of the larger musical texture and briefly stand alone, just as it might have in a scenario of the oft-described clashing of his father’s marching band as it shifted in relative position with others at a parade on Main Street. The listener, not being meant, thus, to resolve all of these lines as separate components, needs an awareness of the different levels that demand different degrees of perception. Thus, Ives’s music requires some sophistication, since not all the parts were created equal, or meant to fulfill even what normally would be expected amongst more traditionally compatible or supportive components.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;tab-stops:.5in 257.0pt”>Ives’s polyphony (the simultaneous combinations of more than one melodic line) is thus a complex matter, since not all of it can be thought of as counterpoint in the traditional sense. If one attempts to force precise vertical alignments of time and harmony upon some of this polyphony (as in the music of Bach, for example), its purpose is likely to be misunderstood, although Ives’s music regularly includes such types of classically conceived counterpoint within its fabric. However, because not all of the linear writing in Ives’s scores was intended to stand horizontally independent, its purpose, instead, was to coexist in a blend with other individually horizontal entities to create a complex blur of moving coloration, rather than exact relationships of note against note.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;tab-stops:.5in 257.0pt”>However, to what degree did Ives anticipate the aural effect of what he wrote? Quite aside from his considerable expertise, ably demonstrated in the orchestration and contrapuntal skills of earlier, more conventional works, he had benefitted, too, from many run-throughs of his early century small-scale works with groups of theater orchestra musicians. It is known, too, that numerous musicians had tried their hands at playing his music in private settings, usually his home, long before it started to receive public performances. (It was sometimes at these sessions that Ives would suffer the blunt, and callously indifferent remarks that must have proven very hard to take, his tormentors treating him merely as an amateur musician and nondescript businessman.) Moreover, Ives spent countless hours at the piano working things through, so probably nothing made it to the page having only existed in his mind. His songs reflect, too, his larger works, so adding his voice contributed another layer to what he heard in his studio.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Goddard Lieberson, who had understood so much about the composer that others somehow missed, slipped, however, when he commented somewhat negatively on Ives’s expertise regarding the practicality of what he wrote, misunderstanding that critical part of Ives’s musical esthetic. In faulting Ives’s orchestration and musical complexity, he failed to recognize its purpose and design,8 a bizarre position considering his knowledge of Ives’s background and writing skills. Was he unaware, too, of Ives’s own references to the topic (Essays Before a Sonata)?9 Here, in relation to criticisms that Brahms’s orchestration was “muddy,” Ives maintained that were it less so, Brahms would not have been able to express his thoughts accurately. It was a matter of the proper handling and interpretation of the materials at hand, rather than imposing something upon its composition that would hamstring the intent.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;tab-stops:.5in 257.0pt”>Thus, it is up to performers to recognize Ives’s purpose, and also the spatial balances in play; requiring a fair degree of expertise in itself, taking the time to make the appropriate analysis is essential. For the listener, to have any chance of hearing what Ives had in mind, not all components can be treated equally, or presumed cut from the same cloth. Some parts even are symbolic, too, rather than literal; others are, or hint at “shadow counterpoint,” to be reflected off the fundamental rather than heard directly. (Ives’s “shadow counterpoint,” however, is unique to him—even the term itself—and usually assigned to the slightest of instrumentation; see Chapter 5.) Alternately, a brazen clash between competing entities was exactly what Ives was striving for. However, there is a difference between what Ives wrote and pure chance. In the Ives’s music, the components usually can be moved around to a small degree and the result is exactly the same—as long as stricter, true contrapuntal relationships between predominant lines (those parts comparable in the classical sense of the term) are preserved, along with the harmonic language; the latter removes the composer and any artistic consistency, even relevance, from the event.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>If Lieberson’s perceptions and comments are slightly reminiscent of Carter’s, and to an even lesser degree Copland’s (in regard to audience reaction concerning Ives’s isolation), they seem to typify yet another composer’s attempt to impose upon another the constraints of his own limitations, conformities and lesser vision.

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12.0pt;line-height:115%”>The makeup of the music


 115%”> 

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"Times New Roman"”>Though Ives’s work was built on several distinct types of idiomatic foundation that seem incompatible,
line-height:115%”> J. Peter Burkholder memorialized them in detail in his article, Ives and the Four Musical Traditions.10 Although the overall identification of primary components can be dissected, perhaps, into even more sub-categories, the divisions are logical and important to differentiate.
normal”>
Three of these four primary musical traditions of Burkholder’s article were fully evolved modes of musical language at the time. The fourth was one Ives explored independently, and was monumental in its dominance in the overall fabric, involving techniques developed during the early years of the twentieth century. This particular mode of Ives’s work exerted such a fundamental influence on the other three that it produced something entirely new in totality. To the extent that the existence of the others within Ives’s music was surprising to some, had they been absent instead, his music might just as well have descended from an alien culture. Ives’s assimilation of all four of these idiomatic styles into a large and flexible reservoir was reflected in any number of guises, his unique idiosyncrasies remaining largely identifiable throughout his output. Because of the distinctive nature of the intervals and blends he chose, and his pioneering systematic organization of them, Ives’s music carries an identifiable sonic stamp. Each of the four “styles” is isolated below.
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line-height:115%”>Folk, Popular, Civil War music

line-height:115%”>Ives’s earliest exposure to music was in Danbury, the town of his birth and upbringing; it would provide a lifelong influence. His immersion in the daily sounds of this little cultural microcosm included the patriotic and other tunes from the Civil War that his father’s marching played, other popular tunes and songs of the day, the music of his father’s dance bands, all of which were energized by a newly optimistic community emerging from the receding dark clouds of domestic conflict.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Reflecting the personal coloration of his life and time, most of Ives’s major works were infused with a complex array of fragments from these well-known melodies. Sometimes set in contexts so altered that it is easy to miss them entirely, such unlikely settings serve many functions other than the predictable. They are used often, too, in unexpected ways, even blended with others, rhythmically or melodically altered, taken from a mid-point, or offset by appearing in entirely different tonalities or speeds to their surroundings. The listener is not expected necessarily to identify these vernacular elements, only to be aware of their familiarity and unique coloration, typically as they reveal themselves just one element at a time with each airing.

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line-height:115%”>Church music

line-height:115%”>Raised as a Congregationalist, Ives had been immersed in hymn tunes from an early age at church services, or those at camp meetings in which the music was led by his father—the great “waves of sound” emanating from these outdoor services remaining with Ives through to the end of his Transcendental journey. Camp meeting hymns were distinctly different to those of church services, their revivalist temperament inspiring freer interpretations, more directly expressing the authenticity of the people’s collective voice, rather than contained by long established formalities. Horatio Parker, his teacher at Yale, openly scorned the limited harmonic and melodic language of the “sickly sentimental hymn tune,” so Ives soon learned not to show him his earlier compositions,
color:windowtext”> or those written for services (Ives was organist at Center Church on the Green, New Haven, throughout his college years), since they were laden with many such references.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Having performed as a church organist from an early age, Ives was well versed in the more structured forms of religious music, too. The influence of notable church musicians, especially that of the renowned Dudley Buck—who had played an instrumental role in gradually introducing to an unenlightened segment of the populace a greater range of musical possibilities—expanded the range of Ives’s compositional language. The young Ives admired him greatly, and had the opportunity in the months before he attended Yale to have some instruction from Buck himself. Criticized, however, by the elite for having incorporated numerous popular elements, such as the unmistakable close-voiced chromatic harmonies of “barbershop quartets,” Buck was responsible, nevertheless, for elevating the musical appreciation of countless individuals who otherwise would have been left behind. Buck’s writing was more readily associated with the styles of popular music that the public had embraced, the widely varied forms of his presentations kept the less musically sophisticated listener engaged.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>In this light, Buck’s music was considered by the elite to be beneath serious consideration, though, it was more sophisticated than anything most churchgoers might have experienced previously, its ready lyricism and straightforwardness making it accessible, and practical for local choirs to sing. The youthful Ives was very enamored of Buck’s work, and resented the fact that Parker looked down on it—in fact, Parker discounted
normal”>any
of the emerging popular vernacular idioms. However, it was Buck, not Parker, who had provided a means to reach the people by slowly introducing them to a higher level of music; Parker shunned them instead, effectively pushing them away forever by failing to recognize what Buck had done. As a substantial musician, Buck solved problems of musical communication in his own way, his influence further reinforcing Ives’s attraction to elements other than the conventional within his own music. Buck demonstrated, too, that making a decent living in America as a composer was possible by proving relevance in a unique way.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Even Parker’s mastery of the broader tradition of the European masters could not dislodge Ives’s affection for the provincial hymn tunes of his upbringing and the simplicity of their harmonic language—even more could it not dislodge the influences of his father and figures such as Buck. Although Ives modeled his early major work, The Celestial Country, on the music of Parker, Buck’s influence still can be heard.

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line-height:115%”>The European model

line-height:115%”>George Ives always had taken great pains to instill the music of the great European masters in his son. Under Parker, Ives schooling in them would continue, as his skills blossomed to the degree necessary to write a major work by the end of the decade—the First
normal”>Symphony
—much in the grand German tradition of Brahms or Dvořák.
color:windowtext”>
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>(
line-height:115%;color:windowtext”>The story of Parker humorously scolding Ives for “hogging all the keys” typified an exclusive adherence to the conventional European model.)

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%;color:windowtext”>Parker’s influence, however, was two-sided; for a time, it seems to have confused the young composer, who briefly tried—with the composition and subsequent self-funded performance of
normal”>The Celestial Country
—to emulate the career path of his teacher. Had Charles Ives followed that path, he would now be as forgotten as Horatio Parker. Regardless, Parker was a fine teacher and highly skilled musician—up to this point in time, the most distinguished with whom Ives had spent extended time. And since in later years Ives had many good things to say about Parker shows that their relationship was far from as strained as many have supposed. It seems, too, that Parker’s considerable tolerance for the undercurrent of latent radicalism in his young maverick student was based on a genuine affection between them.

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line-height:115%”>The experimental model

line-height:115%”>To this writer, Burkholder’s terminology no longer seems the correct one; “experimental” implies dabbling—trial and error to find what works and what does not. Ives was not engaged in experiments; as Philip Lambert demonstrated in 1997, Ives knew exactly what he was doing.
normal”>11
The so-called “experimental model” featured highly advanced structural code that included elaborate cyclical organization, the use of twelve-tone methodology and foretellings of serialism—all of which would be claimed as the innovations of others in later years. The “innovative model” would be a more appropriate heading for this part of the discussion, and probably owed more to his father’s approach to solving the late nineteenth century challenges in music theory than any other factor. Ives’s innovations were central to his monumental output in the years to come.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Charles Ives’s innovations were the answers to the search for a more personally relevant range of musical potential. His artistic destination was completely in line with his wish to see mankind elevated to its rightful place in the universe; somehow, it managed to find an anchor between the highly conservative music of the time and some of the most radical concepts imaginable. Stravinsky, later would refer to Ives as “the great anticipator;” independently, Ives pioneered or peripherally explored many of the ‘isms’ discussed earlier. The fact that Ives utilized whatever blend of these innovative elements he deemed appropriate for the moment at hand sets him apart, causing many still to fail in their assessments of his work. Even in his most radical compositions, subtler elements of the late romantic language of Parker still can be found in most of what he would write.
 115%”>

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Whether or not he ever had considered that any other composers might be working along similar lines, Ives ultimately would infuse polytonality, elements of dodecaphony, polyrhythms, polytempi, polymeters, scales that variously divided the octave, parallel entities, spatial entities, microtones, tone clusters, aleatoric (chance) elements—Ives had already grown comfortable with them when barely a glint in other composers’ eyes (see Chapter 6). However, it is largely Ives’s early innovative works that set his priority, rather than their various incorporations within
normal”>later
large-scale works. The innovations in early works being complete, in and of themselves, while the later works their incorporated broader, multi-compartmented applications.
line-height:115%”> Essentially complete before 1908, the innovative period was divided into two overall segments: that prior to 1902 expanding the harmonic language, and after that, the rhythmic. Recognizing their value as artistic gems, Ives organized many of the earlier innovative works into collections or groups of pieces, such as the First Set for Chamber Orchestra (see again Chapter 6).

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Over a few short years, Ives had assembled all the building blocks necessary for his future work. Unbeknownst to him, the future road he would travel already was set in place; all he had to do was to build and follow it to a destination probably more distant than even
normal”>he
 had imagined.

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REFERENCES

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line-height:115%”>1.
Leon Botstein, “Innovation and Nostalgia: Ives, Mahler, and the Origins of Twentieth-Century Modernism,” in Charles Ives and his World, ed. J. Peter Burkholder (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1996, 48.

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line-height:115%”>2.
Vivian Perlis, Charles Ives Remembered, an Oral History (University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL, 1974), 145.

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line-height:115%”>3.
Charles E. Ives, Essays Before a Sonata (Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1920), 92–96.

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line-height:115%”>4.
J. Peter Burkholder, All Made of Tunes, Charles Ives and the Uses of Musical Borrowing (
italic”>Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2004).

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line-height:115%”>5.

mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Perlis, Charles Ives Remembered,
 bold”>158.

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line-height:115%”>6.

10.0pt;line-height:115%”>David Michael Hertz, “Ives’s Concord Sonata and the Texture of Music,” in Charles Ives and his World, ed. J. Peter Burkholder (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1996), 114.

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line-height:115%”>7.
Ives, Essays, 75–117.

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line-height:115%”>8.
Perlis, Charles Ives Remembered, 208.

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line-height:115%”>9.
Ives, Essays, 25.

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line-height:115%”>10.
Charles Ives and his World, ed. J. Peter Burkholder (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1996), 3.

line-height:115%”>11. Philip Lambert,
normal”>The Music of Charles Ives
(Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1997).     


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 12.0pt;line-height:115%”>CHAPTER 4

Early symphonic ventures

 

 

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text-indent:.5in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The symphonic model that had developed since the time of Haydn (1732–1809) remained a standard large musical format right up until the early twentieth century, the period in which the great romantic age rapidly waned, as the dynamic energy of the new century caused traditional models to give way to newer forms. Those composers who remained staunchly committed to its perpetuation, even as they embraced the new century in their music (e.g., Mahler, Sibelius) were termed “post-romantics”; Ives’s teacher at Yale, Horatio Parker, like many musicians in America had trained abroad, and can be counted amongst them, although likely he would have considered most post-romantics radicals! Largely due to Parker’s influence, Ives’s early symphonic efforts were cast in the traditional romantic vein of his teacher’s compositional language.

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line-height:115%”>The European symphonic model

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line-height:115%”>The traditional model for symphonies typically comprised four movements; they followed a carefully organized plan for maximum variety and dramatic focus. The overall working design was so successful that it was also utilized for other major concert works—from string quartets, trios and larger chamber music forms, to sonatas and concertos, and more. Some of these formats, such as the latter two, featured one less movement, in which the movements corresponded to the weightiest three of the four-movement design.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Regardless, in all of them, the first movement was the most substantial, the second usually slow—and hardly less significant—the third providing a livelier, more light-hearted relief (in those formats where it applied), then a spirited and often dramatic finale—which might also be weighty and substantial. Usually the first two movements of all these forms, and often the last, could be expected to take the grand pattern of all major European formats—Sonata Form—probably the most important musical structure to have evolved during Europe’s long musical history. Allowing for many variations, the format was a development of three-part (ternary A-B-A) form, in which the same essential material (“A1” and “A2”) was used between a contrasting “B” section: thus, A1-B-A2, a formula that allowed for balance and a sense of completion by the return to familiar territory for the conclusion. As an expansion of a successful format, it allowed for extended writing and greater artistic freedom:

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·   
mso-bidi-font-family:"O·U\002738͡øfi‡Õ"”>The first theme (
normal”>First Subject
) was memorable and capable of extended development; melodically and harmonically, its contours were designed for maximum potential.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A bridging section (Transition) sometimes introduced new thematic material,
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>though not intended to detract from the prominence of the first theme; its purpose was to lead to the next section.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A second theme (
normal”>Second Subject
) followed in a contrasting key; it, too, might have introduced sub-themes as it evolved and led towards the next major section.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The
normal”>Development
consisted of an extended working of all the materials from all that had been laid out (collectively known as the
normal”>Exposition
), developed in any way the composer chose. It was considered a test of creativity.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A brief concluding portion—the Codetta—signaled that the development was over and led back to the opening key and materials.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Termed the
normal”>Recapitulation
, the return and restatement of all the materials used in the
normal”>exposition
provided balance and finality, though typically it featured an abbreviated transition. Traditionally, the
normal”>Second Subject
now would be in the same key as the First Subject to further solidify the whole.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Concluding the
normal”>Recapitulation
propelled the movement into the
normal”>Coda
, the final section that brought the movement to a close—in the opening key. Sharing features with the Codetta, it was usually larger in scope, and might have constituted a small development section in itself. However, its character of summation projected finality.

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text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Considerable flexibility was expected with this plan, no two works utilizing sonata form tending to be quite the same. Sometimes modified hybrids constituted later movements, such as the Sonata-Rondo, often utilized for the last movement, and even other variations of the form. Ives took advantage of the symphony format in both the First and Second Symphonies (the deviations from the path appearing in them generally being common practice) before developing his own structural formats. However, both of these early works belong to the romantic/post-romantic mold that sets them apart from his later work.

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115%”>The First Symphony

 

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line-height:115%”>The First Symphony is largely conventional, typical of the great European symphony formats before the turn of the century. Ives composed the first movement under Parker’s guidance as part of his graduation requirements, and as such, it incorporated the fabric of high European art. There are a few clues about future directions he would take, however, not the least of which is the restless shifting through multiple keys (“six or eight”) at the outset; far from establishing the predominant tonality, it is as if Ives was trying to escape it. Parker apparently took issue with it and insisted he make another attempt at it. Less successful in Ives’s view, Parker kindly recanted and allowed his student to reuse the original material—as long as he agreed to start and end the movement in the same key!1

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line-height:115%”>Although the symphony is a fine work by any standards, it is a work that reflects other persons’ gravities perhaps more than his own; Ives claimed it was composed during his Yale years, although he did not disguise the fact that he returned to it later to notate the final version a few years later. As far as this writer is concerned, arbitrary attempts to place the substance of its composition significantly later have not been substantiated. The symphony demonstrates a mastery of seamless musical development and flow, the comfortable management of countless key changes reflecting George Ives’s influence perhaps more than Parker’s. Ives’s penchant for borrowed materials appeared even here, the first movement containing references to the hymns Beulah Land and The Shining Shore, two melodies that feature prominently in many of Ives’s later works. Again, one can be sure that Parker hardly would have embraced the inclusion of these “sickly sentimental hymn tunes.”

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line-height:115%”>The quotations did not stop there. Ives’s growing rejection of European musical dominance did not prevent him from including possible references to some of the old masters. Much has been made of this seeming contradiction, though one should keep in mind that Ives retained his reverence of them; what was behind his sentiment was his rejection of the easy complacency that allowed ready substitution of another society’s culture for one’s own.

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115%”>Charles Ives in 1898

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text-indent:21.5pt;line-height:115%;mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:
none;text-autospace:none”>However, to conclude easily that it is the New World Symphony of Dvořák that has been quoted in the second movement, as did J. Peter Burkholder in his book, All Made of Tunes, even the Pathetique Symphony by Tchaikowsky in the fourth, one would do well to remember that many phrases and works share similar features, as Carol. K. Baron demonstrated in her review of Burkholder’s book.2 Ives staunchly denied having heard the New World Symphony even late in life, though was, however, apparently familiar at some point with the Pathetique, referencing it on a later song sketch. Regardless, these moments, no more than minor constituents of the whole, would perhaps better be seen as reflections of the styles that had inspired the young Ives, rather than quotes, per se.

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115%”>The Second Symphony

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line-height:115%”>Following in quick succession after the First Symphony, the Second Symphony again would adhere largely to the forms and methods of the European masters. However, it reveals movement away from the mainstream, being marked by a distinctive American stamp on its foundations through the use of “paraphrasing” and the quoting of familiar melodies from Ives’s upbringing. Ironically, even many years later, Ives would continue to adhere to the names and overall large-scale embodiments of the major European musical forms (e.g. symphony, sonata, string quartet, etc.), long after he had poured a degree of scorn upon the easy perpetuation of their cultural traditions. Although certain technical elements always remained, as would be expected in that the arts in America still were part of Western culture, the language of those later works bore little resemblance to their European counterparts.

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none;text-autospace:none”>The symphony contains evolutions of a number of early compositions. Many of these early works reflect happy and upbeat memories: his 1888
normal”>Holiday Quickstep
, (based on a march style that would have been well familiar to him through his father, and specifically its references to David Wallis Reeves’ Second Regiment Connecticut National Guard March), or the 1895
normal”>March No. 3, with My Old Kentucky Home
, or even The Circus Band of 1898, which included fragments of Jolly Dogs, Marching Through Georgia, Riding down from Bangor and Reuben and Rachel—all these are filled with much the same spirit, if not the high level of sophistication. Although the symphony was completed well after the time of the original appearances of some of its components, the spirit of Ives’s early optimism remained strongly infused within it, and in many works beyond. Remaining well within traditional constraints, its vast vernacular foundation did, however, represent a clear shift back to Ives’s musical roots, yet simultaneously forward, in that that he had begun to formulate his own declaration of musical independence—his striking voice had emerged, one that pervaded all that he wrote, regardless of the period, musical language or methodology employed, in which one comes to know Ives, as well as his world.

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115%;color:windowtext”>Ives’s return to his roots was not accomplished in an instant; rather, it would involve a gradual evolving departure from one idiom into another. In later years, Ives expressed his offense at Dvořák’s advocacy that American composers ought to incorporate melodies of spirituals into their music, as he (Dvořák) had done in his New World Symphony of 1893, it patronizing that a European heavyweight would show “provincial” American lightweights the way to their own culture. Similar attitudes amongst the European musical elite would be partially behind the scathing opinions Ives developed towards that society’s contemporary musical figures in general
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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:windowtext”>Moreover, Dvořák’s symphony corresponded precisely to those deliberate attempts he would later criticize for trying to imprint regional color through inauthentic and superficial infusions of national folk material upon thoroughly German foundations.

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115%;color:windowtext”>The premiere of the New World Symphony coincided with Ives’s sophomore year at Yale; if one accepts Ives’s word that he had not heard it when he wrote his
normal”>Second Symphony
—even many years later!—perhaps he knew enough about it, however, to make the conscious decision to incorporate simple melodies thoroughly familiar to him—and thus, critically—as part of his personal experience. In an article well worth reading, a carefully documented analysis of the symphony by J. Peter Burkholder detailed Ives’s authentic incorporation of these melodies, of which Dvořák hardly was likely to be aware.3 Ives thus would answer the Czech composer and determine what would constitute the music of his own culture.

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115%;color:windowtext”>Title Page of Dvořák’s New World Symphony

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Its date of composition (1893) is listed alongside those of his earlier symphonies

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115%;color:windowtext”>After the premier of The Celestial Country, which Ives surely considered a debacle (it was not!), the Second Symphony seems to have cemented the conscious choice to chase his roots. Though far removed from the radical new directions he was already pursuing, nevertheless, the conservative language of the First Symphony was one he had used successfully for a major work, and it is unlikely that he was ready to contemplate large radically conceived structures at this stage. The Second Symphony, thus, represented Ives’s full stylistic evolution of the format, and in this context, its timeline makes complete sense.
115%”>Regardless, even in its comfortably familiar frame, certain less than conventional rhythmic complexities in the symphony were a harbinger of things to come. John Kirkpatrick dated the surviving sketches to no earlier than 1901–02, but regardless, it is clear that the symphony does not correspond remotely to the types of work in which Ives had been engaged many years prior to the date that Magee assigned it. Revisionist efforts, thus, to place the finished symphony late in the new century’s first decade (see Magee)4 are wholly insupportable, the manuscript itself removing any nagging doubt whatsoever that the primary musical content dates from c.1898–1902, precisely as Ives related.

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115%;color:windowtext”>Though the s
line-height:115%”>ymphony appears to have featured a sudden departure in style from the self-consciously formal The Celestial Country
color:windowtext”>(1899–1901/02?), the failure of the latter, in Ives’s eyes, at the premiere in 1902 has been cited as the reason Ives returned to his roots. However, perhaps the departure took place the other way around,
11.0pt;line-height:115%;color:windowtext”>the symphony being
11.0pt;line-height:115%;color:windowtext”> conceived first. Certainly some of its matter had been. Was Ives unconvinced, even at the time, that his future belonged to Parker’s world? Were his Danbury roots never really put away? According to Ives, the Finale of the symphony was based on the lost overture,
normal”>The American Woods
, apparently written and played in Danbury in 1889, well before his Yale years.5 The fact that no record of that performance has survived means nothing, in and of itself, although the absence of records for a remote musical event in a provincial town has not stopped some scholars to challenge Ives’s date. Other early materials reappeared in every movement of the symphony, too; in the first, the evolutions of works since lost: an Organ prelude and Down East Overture. The largest structure of the symphony, the second movement—only so designated because it follows a broad introductory movement—incorporated the lost overtures, I and II, In These United States, from 1896, a student work undertaken while Ives was at Yale. From Ives’s words in Memos,
normal”>6
the slow movement (the third) also had origins in another genre altogether (an organ prelude for a religious service that became a piece for string quartet), before it was developed into a movement for his First Symphony. Apparently, Horatio Parker didn’t think it suitable for a symphony, and it seems likely the essence of material saved and later transferred into the
normal”>Second Symphony.
The fourth movement featured not only those of the first, but also reworked materials from another lost early overture, Town, Gown and State, also written around 1896 or so.
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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>The inclusion of earlier materials further reveals another of Ives’s compositional hallmarks—that of the endless growth, reworking and incorporation of long-standing musical ideas—to then degree that practically everything he ever wrote seldom was put away.
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Regardless of the dates of the surviving sketches, its initial incarnation seems clear. There are, also, other musical incorporations in the symphony, aside from the vernacular quotes that stand so tall. Ives subtly worked into the fabric at various places literal references to Brahms’s First and
normal”> Third Symphonies
, as well as traces of a
normal”>Three Part Sinfonia
by Bach, even the
normal”>Scherzo
from Borodin's Second Symphony, Handel’s Joy To The World,
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and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. In his article and analysis,7 which differs in some respects to that of the writer,
normal”>
Burkholder concluded that these classical references (always transitional rather than primarily thematic) were suggested by the developing context, rather than by any preconceived plan, since functionally they share much in common with their original usage. As part of Ives’s own personal experience, the hypothesis seems reasonable. Giving weight to the position, too, finally and definitively, that the greatest European composers, at least, still stood tall in Ives’s estimation, the symphony makes clear that he was not biased against the artistic expression of the Old World, only its presumption of superiority over that of the New World. The telling amalgam of the European romantic tradition with its thoroughly American content results in a curious but resonating hybrid, s
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>onically, bearing certain striking resemblances to the very symphony of Dvořák that Ives seems to have resented. Can one hear even Mahleresque pangs at times? Mahler was, after all, a composer/conductor with whom Ives was well familiar in New York.

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mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>The fact that what Ives wrote was umbilically tied to the European model, the norm in music at the time, should not be seen as surprising. It might be hard to understand about a figure known to be rebellious about accepted traditions, especially now, in hindsight after so much musical evolution since has taken place, although a better perspective may be to put oneself in the shoes of any late nineteenth century composer, indeed—even Ives’s—when one takes into account that a prime objective was to have one’s music performed! Ives’s time at Yale coincided with the last three years of Brahms’s life, too; at that time Brahms’s music was considered modern!

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mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>If the works of the dominant European composers’ of Ives’s time became widely celebrated soon after they were written, it was because navigating alien sonic territory never was considered. It must have seemed that just the continual slow evolution of the western idiom and techniques would continue to define mainstream music forever, and the European composers would continue to dominate it. None of the radical avant-garde movements of the twentieth century then existed, much less were contemplated. The inferiority complex existing in the arts in America was not about to evaporate; indeed, evidence of it can be seen today.

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115%”>It would take the work of visual artists to begin the inexorable march towards the progressiveness that characterized all the arts in the twentieth century; music, initially not at the forefront, at first lagged behind. Impressionism and expressionism, especially amongst the French painters after 1880, began to suggest more diffuse, more personal visions and interpretations of the world and even beyond. Not many years later, and apparently independently, Ives would set out to write his own brand of music that also staked new territory. If he had not yet quite found his ground with the Second Symphony, he was already starting to claim it; soon he would feel comfortable incorporating the techniques he was increasingly gathering from his small-scale, radically innovative compositions into large scale formats—these little gems had been proving grounds for a plethora of new ideas that connected Ives’s music to very workings of the cosmos. One might argue, too, by the title of his conformist work, The Celestial Country, that the seeds of cosmic thought had been sown even earlier.

text-indent:21.45pt;line-height:115%;mso-pagination:none”>The Second Symphony, nevertheless, despite its relative conservatism, is a time capsule that reveals a distinctive voice and personality identifiable in Ives’s much later music. His world comes to life again as he depicted a boundless and bountiful land enjoying its rebirth, his America. It was destined not to last, however, his optimism, untempered joy, and idealism eventually lost to illness, disillusionment with the societal superficiality that largely negated the values of the world he inherited, the shock of a war larger even than the Civil War of his father’s time—thought to be the war that had ended all wars—and even bitter disappointment with his political heroes; gone was his hope for universal enlightenment. If his optimistic and youthful spirit was to be tempered by circumstance, nevertheless, all that had been represented by life in the provinces of nineteenth century America, its festive occasions, Civil War recollections, his father’s band, religious traditions, camp meetings, barn dances, Stephen Foster songs, even perhaps a river boat scene—are all there, more one dimensionally displayed, perhaps, than in his later symphonic counterparts—their imprints, nevertheless always unmistakably preserved.

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mso-pagination:none”><American Waterfalls   /  Riverboat>

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115%”>Throughout, the uniquely quirky character of its creator is lovingly stamped all over the symphony, the borrowed skeletal material woven throughout in a seamless flow of new original invention; surely, it is the beginning of Ives
FR”>’s musical manifestation of the Transcendental spirit. If absent the cosmic horizons that already had begun to occupy his attentions, the Second Symphony is an eminently accessible glimpse into Ives’s personality and world, and a straightforward work needing very little explanation to enjoy on its own terms. If Ives had needed to create a significant “American” symphony, no one can argue that with this work—a substantial composition by any standards—he did not succeed.

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115%”>The melodic quotes featured in the guide below should be considered essentially as signposts for the listener; as such, they provide useful reference points. The greatness of the music, however, centers on what Ives did with them.

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line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

line-height:115%”>The first movement, Andante moderato, serves primarily as a lyrical introduction to the second movement, where full rein is given to musical development and orchestral virtuosity; the andante shares, too, much material with the fourth movement. Both act as dramatic introductions to the movements that succeed them, and in this regard they are transitional vehicles rather than primary musical anchors in the symphony. The first movement also announces Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean, and thus connects to, and anticipates the Finale (the fifth movement) by placing the same material at each end of the symphony, much like musical bookends.

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Symbol”>·    Having decided to utilize a large symphony orchestra for this work, Ives, ever the individualist, chose, however, to feature just the string section alone, entering in canonic imitation, for the first sixth-five bars, further colored by bassoons for a few of them.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Ives wasted no time in incorporating a fragment from Massa’s in de Cold Ground (“Down in de cornfield”); appearing early, it is set in counterpoint against the primary melodic material in the upper violins, and stated again more fully a little later. If this fragment is hard to catch (listen for the descending line that comprises the quote), it is precisely the idea; Ives wanted to infuse the sound of these melodies into the fabric, rather than present mere “arrangements.” Indeed, the opening theme is loosely based on this same material. There are also some surprising harmonic interactions within this movement that Bernard Herrmann compared to Prokofiev.8 Interestingly, Herrmann failed to recognize any of the quoted materials until nearer the conclusion of the movement, in which he identified the prominent clip of Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean in the horns.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Mid-way through this section, a second primary element is the gentle usage of figurative material from Pig Town Fling, worked into other locations in the symphony by ingenious manipulations of the material. J. Peter Burkholder referenced the similarity within this theme to a device in Brahms’s First Symphony, comparing the close relationships of notation in a dominant part of the line, and using the term “lower neighbor-note” to describe it. Any idea that Ives had the
normal”>Finale
of Mahler’s First Symphony also in mind as he developed the idea seems negated, because the 1909 premiere in New York of that work took place
normal”>after
the composition of Ives’s symphony, unless, perhaps, Ives had seen the score.)

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Burkholder further demonstrated Ives’s remarkable abilities to link unlikely thematic elements between portions of different melodies; the two elements that Ives used together and separately have relationships in common.9 This technique can be found elsewhere (e.g., the
normal”>Human Faith Melody
in the Concord Sonata; see Chapter 9).

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As the music returns to the opening theme material, (including the quote from Massa), it builds and develops, including a brief allusion to the third movement with a succession of strong, but lush descending chords, again, modeled on “Down in de cornfield.”

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    After the brief quote from Columbia, the
normal”>Gem of the Ocean
in the horns, there is a dramatic of the “neighbor-note” figure, now in decidedly Mahler-esque guise (listen for the sharply defined plucked notes in the accompanying second violins to identify it), and the dramatic build-up seemingly conceived in a manner reminiscent of the Viennese master. The music pauses, to continue directly into the next movement.

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115%”>The second movement,
normal”>Allegro
, as the principal movement of the symphony, also is the weightiest.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The first theme is ushered in brightly and is built on a fragment of Wake Nicodemus, developing until reaching an extended variant of Bringing in the Sheaves, utilized here simply as part of the evolving thematic material.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The
normal”>second theme
follows: quoted in full (unusual in Ives’s music), a lyrical old college song, Where, O Where Are the Verdant (‘Peagreen’) Freshmen!, reflects the bonds of his college days still strong and recent in his life. The speed is slower, the melody attractively set, and highly contrasted with the sprightliness of the first theme. The material from this second theme is radically developed through urgent new directions, becoming dramatic, even strident at times.

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115%”>Ives seized developmental potential far beyond the limitations and constraints of these simple melodies, his talent for weaving together multiple fragments of unrelated melodies and other compositions and their derivations into a working counterpoint was remarkable, never sounding contrived. Clearly demonstrated towards the end of the exposition, and again up into the final section of the movement (the coda), Ives included interactions of many unlikely components, specifically:

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A brief snatch from Brahms’s Third Symphony, that consists of a short descending chromatic line, culminating by rising like a question mark, and underscored with rich chromatic harmony. The passage is also not unlike another to be found in Wagner’s Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, (specifically that leading into Wagner’s second theme), Ives’s usage thus enshrining a chromatic sweep typical of the late romantic style.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Concluding the development is a luminous fragment of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross appearing in the low brass, and evolving much further from that point; technically, it is particularly suited for inclusion since it starts with the same rhythms (in augmentation) as Pig Town Fling (introduced in the first movement), and Long, long ago (touched upon in the last). Illustrating not only some of the careful choices Ives made for extended musical development, but also how he linked these unlikely fragments across larger musical spans. Earlier subsidiary material accompanies the seamless evolution of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, as still more sweeping lines in the ongoing string writing touches upon it, further coupled to the Brahms fragment that now is heard in the woodwinds. When the passage reoccurs in the coda, the quote of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross is anticipated several times, before the accompanying Brahms fragment is inverted in its final grand incarnation.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Another segment reminiscent of Mahler’s First Symphony (first movement) comes to mind during the dramatic build leading into the recapitulation; the dramatic rhythmic percussion that offsets the rest of the orchestra seems to link the two works.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Common to both the codetta and coda, another quoted fragment from Brahms’s First Symphony is a passage of dramatic rising triplets in the strings, appearing in the coda twice as fast as they did in the codetta. Similarly, in both comparable parts of the movement, it is followed immediately by a fragmentary clip seemingly taken from the syncopated second theme of the Scherzo of Borodin’s Second Symphony, built from supportive material from that theme, miraculously transformed to clearly indicate its roots; the fragment is most strongly confirmed in the coda during its final appearance.
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115%”>The third movement, Adagio cantabile, is in three-part form (A1-B-A2), the “A” section built primarily around material from two well-known hymn tunes:

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Emerging from the introductory material, Ives set Beulah Land from its midpoint as the first part of the primary theme.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The “theme” progresses into its second part, taken from towards the end of America, the Beautiful. The appealing melodic contour weaves together both of these seemingly ill-matched melodic fragments in seamless fashion, and is rounded out by a short, sigh-like reference to Brahms’s First Symphony.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    After a stirring reference to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, in a line also characterized by chromatic descending harmonies, a short transition follows.
"Times New Roman"”>Consisting of material common to other parts of the movement, including “Down in de cornfield,
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mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> it is followed a little later by a beautiful restatement by solo cello of Ives’s composite melodic line.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Arriving at the “B” section, numerous discreet references to the four-note, opening
normal”>Fate Motif
of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony are at its core. The motif haunted Ives throughout his compositional career, and it appears tucked into many of his works with a regularity that denotes its significance. In this instance, Ives often expanded the motif by one note.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The opening of
normal”> Missionary Chant
, sharing the four notes of the Fate Motif, appears subsequently, first in the horns, then the upper strings, followed by another supporting rearward glance to the hymn Nettleton in the winds. Forming a unified whole through Ives’s carefully chosen quotes, those unfamiliar with the materials likely never would guess their origins.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Following the return of the primary material, a further fragment, derived from “Down in de cornfield” fragment appears; building and extensively developed, it is accompanied by the Fate Motif fragmented across the strings. The anticipation within the first movement of a similar passage in the horns at this point might be apparent.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The material based on “Down in de Cornfield” is handed quietly to the strings, growing at times as it develops, it becomes central to the structure of the middle section of the movement. Significantly, the descending notes characterizing this theme have formed a great deal of the transitional material elsewhere within it, especially between both of the primary themes.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The
normal”>recapitulation
(“A2”), advances to the close, although Ives scored the
normal”> coda
, curiously, almost exclusively for strings at its high point. Leonard Bernstein considered this “inexplicable orchestration,” which most certainly it is, though there can be no doubt that it serves its purpose, ending the movement essentially in the same manner that it began, in thoroughly formal balance, if not actual design.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Note the staggered restatements of the Beethoven Fate Motif as the movement concludes; uniquely and movingly placed, its final apparition is transformed.

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115%”>The fourth movement, Lento (maestoso), opens with the same thematic material as the first movement, along with a supporting melodic fragment in the woodwinds, based on Wake Nicodemus. Peaking and falling, this relatively short movement serves more as a transitional bridge to the Finale than an independent musical statement.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    However, the strong flavor, reminiscent of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony, is the most immediately striking characteristic at the outset.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Becoming slightly faster, the violins and flutes reflect the first movement further, beginning a section based again on Pig Town Fling; further transformed, it is accompanied by Columbia the Gem of the Ocean, followed by a further quote from Brahms’s First Symphony as it builds.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The final build to a last statement of the opening material restates part of the first movement (characterized by punctuating, back-and-forth “stinger” woodwind tones, now more pungent and telling). Even more suggestive of the first movement of Mahler’s First Symphony, in Ives’s symphony it is also supported by the “lower neighbor note” figure, as in the first movement, too. Along with one last oblique reference to “Down in de cornfield,” the movement leads to the Finale.

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115%”>The fifth movement, Finale, Allegro molto vivace, the surviving development of Ives’s lost The American Woods Overture, bursts out of the starting gate with a direct reference to Camptown Races, coupled with subtle elements from Turkey in the Straw. The movement again is conceived within the tried-and-tested
normal”>Sonata Form
.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    In the bassoon and celli, hints of Columbia the Gem of the Ocean, most clearly representing the throwback to that part of the original youthful 1889 composition; the quote will become the significant feature for the conclusion of the symphony.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The
normal”>transition
features a militaristic piccolo and flute line, accompanied by snare drum and bass drum, is strongly reminiscent of a fife and drum corps of the Revolutionary War or Civil War. The strings play short accompanying chords, rhythmically strongly suggesting further the street beat of a marching band.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    With the completion of an extended transition, for his
normal”>second theme
, Ives featured an earthy and lyrical horn solo built out of the harmonic material of the accompanying
normal”>Pig Town Fling
/Turkey in the Straw (violins) derivation; the horn solo is related also to the rhythm of Joy to the World in a kind of inverted apparition of the melodic fragment itself that appears soon in earnest. Ives interjected a touch of Long, Long Ago in the flute and oboe, recognizing compatible common ground between themes, in this case it exists both in the melody and the rhythm.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    An actual quote from Joy to the World follows; subsequent development first appears in the winds. The melody seems to have been a particular favorite of the youthful Ives, found, too, in the slow movement of his Fourth Symphony (added to a movement reworked from his Yale days). The quote reflects the optimistic, happy exuberance of the symphony, and is heard, too, within the texture in the trombones as the section builds, before returning to the
 normal”>recapitulation.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The
normal”>recapitulation
is laid out in similarly to the
normal”>exposition
, though it is developed far more extensively in order to prepare the listener for the grand conclusion that follows. (Leonard Bernstein initiated a cut to the score for the first performance and subsequent recording [a superlatively good, if not an entirely authentically executed version] that shortens this dramatic section.)

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The
normal”>second theme
appears in the solo cello, a memorable point in the symphony before the final run up to the conclusion; strains from Long, Long Ago can be heard again.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The conclusion (
normal”>coda
), built on the lost The American Woods, builds with increasing quotes and references to Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean. Henry Cowell cited numerous other melodic fragments, including
normal”> Love’s Old Sweet Song
, The Fisherman’s Reel, In the Sweet Bye and Bye, even Turkey in the Straw (interwoven into the violin part)—so the climax is a veritable free for all. Along with militaristic rhythmic percussion, and a quote of the Reveille bugle call, the movement culminates in a full bore statement of Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean—a rare instance in which Ives chose to quote an entire original melody in the full context of its tradition. Seeming to answer earlier allusions to it in prior movements, the full hearing offers a hint of what would become cumulative form. (See Chapter 5.)

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    After one last
normal”>Reveille
“bugle” call comes the final shocking last chord—every note but the right one.
12.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-hansi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"”>Ives reworked the ending and added this chord as a tribute to his father for the first performance in 1951; remarkably, humorously, and in the most unlikely way, it works. Unfortunately, it has been used against him (see Appendix 1).

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115%”>The Second Symphony again reveals a masterful young composer, who, at a young age already had produced this large-scale, substantive work that is as remarkably conceived, organized and written as anything likely to be encountered from the period. Exceedingly confident in its manner, it holds its own against virtually any contemporary comparison.
"Times New Roman"”>Ives’s unique world, as expressed through this symphony, is immensely appealing, increasingly more revealed to the persistent listener. In context of what it portends, of course, Ives had barely begun to build his road to the stars, but it is a telling indicator of what was to come, as well as being an insightful guide into the personality of the composer.

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REFERENCES

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line-height:115%”>1.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Charles E. Ives, Memos, ed. John Kirkpatrick (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972), 51.

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normal”>2.
Carol K. Baron, review, “All Made of Tunes,” Journal of the American Musicological Society

line-height:115%”>vol. 53, 2 (Summer, 2000): 437–444.

line-height:115%”>3.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> J. Peter Burkholder, “Quotation and Paraphrase in Ives’s Second Symphony,” in, Joseph Kerman, Music at the Turn of Century: A 19th-Century Music Reader (University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1990); see also, J. Peter Burkholder, All Made of Tunes, (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2004), relative to Ives’s entire output.

line-height:115%”>4.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Gayle Sherwood Magee,
normal”>Charles Ives Reconsidered
(University of Illinois Press, Chicago, IL 2008), 175.

line-height:115%”>5.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Ives, Memos, 52.

line-height:115%”>6.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Ives, Memos, 51–52.

line-height:115%”>7.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Burkholder, “Quotation and Paraphrase in Ives’s Second Symphony,” 48–49.

line-height:115%”>8.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Bernard Herrmann, “Four Symphonies by Charles Ives” Modern Music 22 (May–June 1945), 215–22.

line-height:115%”>9.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Burkholder, “Quotation and Paraphrase in Ives’s Second Symphony,” 36.


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 12.0pt;line-height:115%”>CHAPTER 5


12.0pt;line-height:115%”>The Third Symphony
(“The Camp Meeting”)

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<Insert IMAGE - A 19th Century camp (revival) meeting >

mso-outline-level:1”>A nineteenth century camp (revival) meeting

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text-indent:.5in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Though the Third Symphony preserves something of the surviving late romantic symphonic model, in which Europe’s shadow still is present to a greater or lesser degree, it marks a clear delineation from it in form and idiomatic language. Here, Ives had moved to a more personally relevant vehicle of expression, rather than follow the dictates of traditional musical architecture, as he had done in the Second Symphony. The Third Symphony falls somewhere on middle ground, nevertheless (owing to its origins in earlier music written for church services), and is another step in Ives’s developing symphonic model. In utilizing American hymns exclusively for its formative basis (an unusual occurrence for Ives), musically, it is of the new century, if emotionally of the last—a work in which optimistic youthful vigor suddenly is replaced by a yearning for things lost, a telling reflection that, in a profoundly personal sense, Ives had experienced his fair share of angst.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Though the symphony’s backdrop is tied to Ives’s old religious values, it is immersed in his surroundings and experiences,
11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>a hybrid with Emersonian ideals. Although this symphony retains a firm grip on recognizable musical parameters and tonalities (key centers), Ives’s use of the medium vividly reflects his father’s teaching through its unconventional lines, harmonic imbalances and rhythmic irregularities; tonally, its unsettling harmonies shift listlessly, leading towards stability only as each movement progresses to its conclusion. The music is authentically original, uniquely organic, emotionally tugging, and significantly, no longer suggests anything European. Ives had penned the American experience, in ways no one else had succeeding in doing. Indeed, it seems no one ever had tried, let alone contemplate it.

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line-height:115%”>Timeline

line-height:115%”>Considerable confusion exists regarding the date of composition for the
normal”>Third Symphony.
Ives assigned a preliminary version to 1901–04; however, he returned to it around 1907, notating on his third work list the dates 1902–12, the last date being the final ink score; Ives might have been a year late in his estimate, because it is believed he had sent it out to be copied in 1911! Regardless, the basic tenets of the music had come about far earlier (during his church organist days) and continued to develop in Ives mind over the years. Any surviving sketches or scores of the symphony itself, thus, were part of the maturation of the materials. The unusually wide range of development, most especially the unconventional intricacies and complexities amidst some truly forward-looking melodic and harmonic writing, perhaps speaks to a large interval of time between the initial concept and final manifestation.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%;color:windowtext”>Magee claimed that the primary composition more accurately dates to 1910–1911, following the stillborn birth of the Ives’s child and the loss of Harmony’s (Ives’s wife’s) mother. In this sense, the symphony could be viewed as an elegy of sorts, and it certainly would explain
line-height:115%;color:windowtext”> its overall somber mood.1 It should be mentioned, however, that Magee’s new re-dated catalog of Ives’s works has not met with universal acceptance amongst Ives researchers, the writer amongst them. Indeed, it can be demonstrated that the revised sketches predate these years—1907, per Ives, being entirely consistent with the manuscript—the original materials, upon which it is based, apparently dating to far earlier.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%;color:windowtext”>It ought to be asked, too, whether Ives would have regressed to such a comparatively conservative musical style in the midst of what seems indisputably to be an accelerating period into the far more radical musical forms of his most creative years; it seems highly questionable. Thus, the loss of his unborn child is cannot have been behind this work, although what Magee detailed in the emotional impact of the Ives’s sudden bereavement does makes sense in regard to what might have been a final push to put the symphony into its final form, the late dates concurring, thus, with Ives’s own.
line-height:115%”>And because the origins of the symphony are early, it should not be seen as inconsistent that the final score of this symphony would emanate from a later time than far more experimental excursions, such as The Unanswered Question of c.1906-1908, for example.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;tab-stops:45.8pt 91.6pt 137.4pt 183.2pt 229.0pt 274.8pt 320.6pt 366.4pt 412.2pt 458.0pt 503.8pt 549.6pt 595.4pt 641.2pt 687.0pt 732.8pt”>Ives composed many organ works for incorporation into church services, having developed a very good sense of what was suitable for congregations; however, most of these works have been lost. The fact that they have become missing in action should not be nearly the mystery, or mark of suspicion that some might suppose; more likely, the young Ives conceived and wrote these organ works rapidly, and viewed them purely as “music for hire,” never imagining they would have later value. It is entirely conceivable that immediately after their use he actively discarded most of them at the time, even more likely just leaving them on church shelves. Apparently, this fate is precisely what happened to Ives’s entire collection from Central Presbyterian Church in New York City, when Ives decided to abandon music as a career. He left quantities of music in place—and as Kirkpatrick supposed—for future generations to use if they wanted it. Unfortunately, when the church relocated in 1915, the music was discarded. If it still exists, perhaps it is locked up in an attic somewhere, to reappear once again far in the future as an extraordinary time capsule.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;tab-stops:45.8pt 91.6pt 137.4pt 183.2pt 229.0pt 274.8pt 320.6pt 366.4pt 412.2pt 458.0pt 503.8pt 549.6pt 595.4pt 641.2pt 687.0pt 732.8pt”>In most of the music Ives wrote for religious settings, he had not felt at liberty to utilize his more radical ideas, being acutely aware it was for occasions in which listeners “could not get out from under it.” Ives was very sensitive about inflicting anything potentially upsetting on conservative congregants who had no choice in the music they would hear.2 Thus, he found most of his earlier church music insufficiently challenging for use in major compositions, although, apparently not in this instance, in which he developed earlier material; as such, the music represents a high point in Ives’s originality, creativity and artistic growth, Ives having remarked upon the curious place it occupies somewhere between traditional and radical. Written for small orchestra, it was as lovingly conceived, colorfully evocative and masterfully crafted as anything in his catalog. Reflecting, too, six hymns particularly dear to Harmony, his wife, apparently the symphony further cemented the emotional bond of the couple.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Though the original plan was for a four-movement work, Ives would change his mind after he had begun to lay it out, realizing that the three movements represented a better balance in the context of the materials. Writing in a style that would have been comfortable for moderately open-minded listeners, the music incorporates a certain degree of less than traditional methods nestled amongst the more familiar. Precisely when the main content was conceived, scored, or the degree to which its compositional daring was flaunted puts the Third Symphony still well in advance of most other music written at the time, at home or abroad.

 

 

A link to the symphony—Fugue in Four Keys: on “The Shining Shore”

line-height:115%”>Although the specific works that Ives used for materials were lost, his musical evolution is traceable within some other compositions of the time. The
normal”>Fugue in Four Keys: on “The Shining Shore,”
provides a direct link to the evolving style of this symphony, not only in its specific musical content, but also in its harmonic and idiomatic character, even more its overall sound. The little fugue, only a few minutes in length, first was scored for string quartet, and reappeared in 1903 in a version for string orchestra, cornet and flute. Ives referenced such a fugue originating in 1896,3 but it is unclear if it is the same one, although the placement in time seems about right. If so, the futurist leanings in it are remarkable.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The fugue sounds eerily similarly to the
normal”>Third Symphony
, despite the use of multiple simultaneous keys; as such, this methodology was not incorporated into the symphony. Instead, the specific aural relationships from note to note that are created by the various opposing keys were ingeniously transferred to the symphony’s first movement through a technique taught him by his father. By compatibly conjoining different chords by omitting clashing intervals—and specifically the defining tones of chords (usually thirds)—it was possible to write in multiple keys, and yet the effect would not be especially strident. It turns out that many large “extended” chords of single keys also approximate such “polychords.” Ives, thus, simulated the fugue’s harmonic relationships in the symphony by creating the same intervallic relationships within single keys. By the use of flexible motion through continually transient key centers, as well as duplicating the “walking” linear movement between the voices, too, the first movement of the symphony seems clearly to emulate the fugue. Towards the end of the fugue, the cornet solo is reminiscent of the same yearning, nostalgic elements associated with the
normal”>Finale
of symphony, too, as do the peculiar harmonic entities Ives explored within that poetic movement. Suddenly, the timeline seems clearer: the essence of a Yale period fugue (not one of Parker’s assignments!) was reworked into a piece for services at First Presbyterian Church in New York; from there, it became the first draft of the symphony in an organ prototype, ultimately to be developed into the symphonic work.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Surely it can be no coincidence, too, that the melody of the fugue’s primary hymn bears a relationship the opening melody of the first movement of the Third Symphony. Though the main melodies of the first and third movements of the
normal”>Third Symphony
are built on Azmon—and not the principal melody that is used in the fugue—the two hymns, The Shining Shore and Azmon, show a striking mutual resemblance. But the links to the symphony do not stop there. Remarkably, as the fugue proceeds, strains of Azmon can be heard!

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line-height:115%”>The music of the symphony

line-height:115%”>As a composer, Ives has been mischaracterized as a modern voice in search of the past; here, however, he appears as a cautiously modern progressive who has not yet completely left the past. Though the music is far less radical than much of his other music of the period, regardless, the Third Symphony was not cut from the same cloth as late/post romantic music of the day. It differs, too, in that Ives used hymn melodies as the foundation, rather than in the more usual peripheral capacity.  

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Notable, as well, from a compositional standpoint, Ives realized that the established, long presumptive
"Times New Roman"”> architecture of all symphonic and large structure works—sonata form
normal”>—

"Times New Roman"”>was too formulaic, and entirely too predictable for his essentially Transcendental, continuous musical renewal that was characteristic of his developing style. In a clear rejection of the tidal pull from across the Atlantic, Ives jettisoned sonata form in favor of developing the more flexible
normal”>cumulative form
—a term coined by Burkholder—that, to a large degree, would be present in many of his works from this moment on. The concept was simple: the primary thematic material is presented initially in fragmentary, even alluded forms, then developed and gradually revealed. In this instance, in which Ives quoted full melodies, those stated in their full recognizable form would appear thus only at the conclusion of the movement. The symphony shares with sonata form the use of more than one primary theme and sub-themes, so the association with the old traditional form was not yet completely severed.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Ives tried out something else new in this symphony, too. What he termed “shadow counterpoint,” it appears to be unique in all music, consisting of faintly audible, yet fairly complex subsidiary solo parts that loosely trace the main lines, almost as if spun off to exist outside the primary harmonic and rhythmic context. Ives equated these “shadow” entities even with visual parallels, like sunlight darting through a maze of leafy branches on a windy day. Because he suggested they might represent vague realities of the subconscious, “shadow” parts appear to suggest other dimensions, or places in time, and represent another form of spatial writing, sometimes best played off-stage or well separated into the background. Stylistically, if played with too much definition and forward projection, this type of counterpoint sounds simply wrong, almost as if the performers are mistaken, even lost; “shadow” thus is the operative word.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Within otherwise fundamentally tonal music, it is hard to find anything that resembles it sonically in any way.
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>In this instance, possibly they were late afterthoughts, since Ives eliminated the “shadow” parts from the earlier version for publication; he continued to have doubts about including them until many years later, and for a time he intended to restore them, but never did. Carol K. Baron was able to demonstrate, however, that he did incorporate aspects of these lines in the definitive version that was prepared by Lou Harrison in 1947.4 Today, one is just as likely to hear the symphony with or without these added parts, depending upon the performance edition; though the comparison is enlightening, one would be wise to remember that the decision to include them at this stage is clouded.

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line-height:115%”>Comparisons with other symphonies of the period

line-height:115%;mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace:
none”>Rhythmically and harmonically, characteristics of the Third Symphony seem largely absent in the majority of other contemporary works of the time that continued in the predominant post-romantic language. Few radical figures across the Atlantic, with the probable lone exception of Arnold Schönberg, had, by 1911, lifted music to new ground; with works such as the expressionistic Five Pieces for Orchestra of 1909, arguably he can be placed alongside Ives as a peer of the radical. Ives’s very listenable, lovely and charming work, however, is so deceptive that it might cause one to miss its inherent modernity, because only to a degree is the Third Symphony post-romantic in style. Overall, though, the symphony bridges the chasm between Ives’s traditional background at Yale and the new awakenings of his innovations, as well as being evidence of the breadth of the evolving musical process. Regardless, the break from the language of the Second Symphony is substantial.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>One cannot fail to be struck by the symphony’s distinctive, ruggedly “pioneering American” character, as much due to Ives’s remarkably original departures from well-worn European paths, essentially contained still within traditional tonality, as it is to its basic content and authentic expression. In this respect, the symphony is one of Ives’s most important works. Striking to the listener, too, might be the many idiomatic hallmarks that so personify this composer—the proud, yet profoundly present commentary that speaks across time, the strong faith-based religious echoes so clearly captured from deep within nineteenth century America, reawakened for modern ears from its distant slumber.

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line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

line-height:115%”>
"Times New Roman"”>The first movement, (Old Folks Gatherin’), Andante maestoso; the cumulative construction would dictate that instead of stating first a primary theme, transitioning to a contrasting second theme (as found in standard sonata form), a gradual unfolding of the material diffuses the expected boldness of a conventional symphony’s beginning. Although the movement is dominated by one theme (the hymn tune, Azmon), two other themes are featured also, Woodworth, and Erie;
11.0pt;line-height:115%”> however, they never assume the significance of Azmon. The themes appear in a completely new light, however, and are easily missed, even more since the sub-themes never are aired in their complete or original forms. And true to the tenets of cumulative form, even Azmon is not heard essentially complete until the movement’s end.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    The symphony opens in a lyrical manner in the violins, tonally restless and built vaguely on
normal”>Azmon
; (the same material appears similarly again in the Finale, though differently configured.) A clear fragment (a falling figure of successive thirds) from the middle of the melody set the tone of the movement.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    As the Azmon-derived material is fully established (in fugal-type entrances), the music develops and continues to build around it; different instruments take fragments of the melody, and the music becomes increasingly active.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    Reaching a pivotal moment, the announcement of the second theme,
normal”>Woodworth
(Just as I am), is introduced in the horns—the parallels to the introduction of the second theme in sonata form are clear. However, Ives did not accord his second theme equivalent time or importance.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    Material from Azmon reappears shortly thereafter, dramatically building in the full orchestra (with a gentle reference again to Woodworth in the horns), leading to a brief hold that is identifiable by an actual silence.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    With a mood change, material derived from Azmon accompanies Erie (What a Friend We Have in Jesus) in the solo oboe; the solo flute answers and develops the material well beyond the original confines of the melody. Moments of unusual rhythmic accompaniment, mostly in the strings, effectively set the music in more than one simultaneous speed.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    The section concludes in dialog across the orchestra, and is followed by the appearance of a livelier segment based on the
normal”>accompaniment
to the horns’ earlier statement of Woodworth.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    A final reference to the second theme, Woodworth, leads into a further derivations of Azmon in the horns; echoed by the strings, the music heads into an optimistic, joyous development of the material throughout the orchestra, culminating in an ecstatic high point.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    Almost prayerfully, the music falls off and slows down. Ives saved the loveliest moment of all for his largely complete statement of
normal”>Azmon
in the violins, fulfilling the purpose and design of the form. It is accompanied with a rapturous variant of
normal”>Erie
in the solo flute, as the movement draws to a peaceful close.

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text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The second movement, (Children’s Day, or Young Folks Meeting), Allegro;
normal”>
Ives chose lively, spirited musical material to suggest the happy play of children. As a reflection of innocence, he kept the structure itself simpler than that of the preceding movement, although the rhythmic complexities and fast-changing harmonic entities more than engage the ear, and inform the listener that this is no mere extension of nineteenth century romanticism. Though building his movement in three-part (ternary) form—in which materials introduced in the first part of the piece, (A1), reappear in the last, (A2), with a middle contrasting section separating them, (B)—Ives tied the use of the themes to the initial tenets of cumulative form, in which full statements of the themes never appear.
normal”>Children’s Day
is built largely on the opening bars of There is a Fountain Filled with Blood, and later, There is a Happy Land (far, far Away); peripheral themes are Naomi,
normal”>There’s Music in the Air
, and even a fragment of Erie.
 line-height:115%;color:red”>

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Symbol”>·    The opening segment is built largely on the opening bars of There is a Fountain Filled with Blood, outlined within vigorous harmonic motion in the strings, and Naomi in the horns. Along the way, a fragment of material, derived from What a Friend We Have in Jesus (Erie) is introduced to form what perhaps is best described as a motif, along with similarly derived motifs built from the other two quoted melodies. Used later with the second section (the “B” section) of the movement, they serve to bond the materials together.

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Symbol”>·    After a period of evolution that leads to a hold and crescendo, the announcement of the second “B” section takes place in the woodwinds. Built on the latter part of Happy Land, the material is developed immediately, variously interspersed or accompanied by a brief melodic figure derived from There’s Music in the Air. Smooth and linear, it contrasts with the jaunty rhythmic character of Happy Land.

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Symbol”>·    The music continues to build dynamically to suggest children at play, its increasing energy and almost militaristic overtones—perhaps a game of soldiers; this segment can be considered the development of the materials, closely paralleling the development section in sonata form, though it lacks the entirety of the materials from the “A1” section.

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Symbol”>·    The jaunty rhythms give way to the return of the materials of the first section. Both There is a Fountain Filled with Blood and Naomi reappear, the latter’s high tones in the flute standing starkly clear of the motion beneath.

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Symbol”>·    The music builds toward a climax, dramatic, though suggesting weary children; the music gyrates through seemingly countless keys, the descending lines in the lower instruments adding to the increasing weightiness, echoing There’s music in the Air.

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Symbol”>·    The movement concludes with the only extended continuation of the Happy Land fragment, elements of cumulative form in evidence, if not quite materializing.

 line-height:115%”> 

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text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The third movement (Communion),
normal”> Largo
, is built cumulatively from diffuse fragments of the same two primary hymns used in the first movement. The texture is intricately woven, the many diametrically opposite moving lines, unconventional harmonies and conflicting rhythms point to a developing modernity over the period that Ives wrote the symphony, although nothing in the record indicates the movement was written or developed later than the other two. The mood created has an almost tragic quality to it that seems to go well beyond even the nostalgic, introspective tenor of the rest of the symphony. In structure, the movement proceeds through a four-part layout, the related first and third sections counterbalancing the second and fourth similarly related sections. Harmonically, the first section ends up where the first section began, and thus the two contrasting areas find common ground and ultimate unity.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    The first incarnations of the primary material are less directly stated than in the first movement, and in reverse order, too, with the derived quote from Woodworth (Just as I am) appearing most diffusely, first in the cellos and joined immediately in the higher strings canonically (one voice after another, not unlike fugal entrances).

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    An extensive evolution of both hymns takes place, ultimately leading to the second section, built on an ingeniously devised variant of the first part of Azmon; it is so disguised and rhythmically diffuse that it is perhaps best recognized by the prominently contrasting linearity in the first violins. The primary line evolves into a literal quote from the middle of Azmon (the familiar descending succession of thirds). Soon after reaching a high point, a substantial development of material from Woodworth dominates the texture, first in the first violins in octaves.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    In overall descending lines, the character begins to shift back to that of the first section, reaching its derived third section in a forceful manner; dynamically loud and massive, it is characterized, too, by strong scale motion in the lower lines.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    At the high point, the music moves to the last (fourth) section accompanied by strong ascending movement in the lower lines; now it is in the same tonality (key) as the first, a “nod” to recapitulations in sonata form. Musically identifiable with the second section, nevertheless, it is presented with both primary themes together, led by the cellos playing
normal”>Woodworth
(and joined by the flute a bar later), and followed by Azmon in the violins shortly thereafter. Its dense texture is harmonically transient, its style perhaps a simulation of the “fervor” of the camp meeting congregants that so impressed the youthful Ives. After its peak the music melts away into a wonderful moment of nostalgic resolution in the flutes.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:
-1.0pt”>·    Towards the end of the symphony, a less than literal quotation of
normal”>Woodworth
appears to morph into a fragment of
normal”>Silent Night.
Often wrongly identified, however, it is really just the concluding segment of the actual (Woodworth) melody—that follows the same contour. An intensely moving moment, the music seems suspended in space and time.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    In fragmented fashion, the strings lead out of the movement, continuing Woodworth, and even further the “Silent Night” fragments; they are joined briefly by what were intended as barely audible distant church bells in another key—another variant of shadow counterpoint. As the music wafts away in a prayerful cadence, without ever quite completing the hymn melody—an increasingly common trait—in one of the most profound moments in all Ives.

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line-height:115%”> 

line-height:115%”>The Significance of the Third Symphony

line-height:115%”>Few works provide a better insight into Charles Ives than the
normal”>Third Symphony.
Although its technical language barely hints at his final destiny, the symphony demonstrates superlative command of the medium, the small orchestra allowing an intimate glimpse into his inner thoughts and personal world without the physical bombast that larger scale works impart, by default. One would have presumed this wonderful little symphony would be performed with regularity; the fact that it is not a regularly programmed work speaks to the reality that anything not already well trodden and familiar remains a challenge at the box office, as much as it does Ives’s worst premonitions about the direction of society.

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REFERENCES

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line-height:115%”>1.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Gayle Sherwood Magee,
normal”> Charles Ives Reconsidered
(University of Illinois Press, Chicago, IL, 2008), 97–99.

line-height:115%”>2.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Charles E. Ives, Memos, ed. John Kirkpatrick (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972), 128–29.

line-height:115%”>3.
 10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Ibid., 38.

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normal”>4.

10.0pt”>
JA”>Carol. K. Baron, review, “Charles Ives, Symphony No. 3: The Camp Meeting,” ed. Kenneth Singleton (Associated Music Publishers, New York, NY, 1990), Notes (June 1992): 1437–38.

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 115%”> 


 115%”>CHAPTER 6

Ives the innovator


 115%”> 


 115%”> 

 

text-indent:.5in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Just as Ives had not sought to write nationalistic music, he had not set out to write “modern” music for its own sake, either. Being confined to existing musical language limited his creative outlook and range of expression, and trying to accommodate them within it had resulted only in their obliteration. Furthermore, attempting to perpetuate the status quo would have meant that music as an art form would stagnate—effectively, to die—lost to the indulgence of pleasing those who wished to hear only what fell within their comfort zone. Ives believed musical evolution in general had been compromised, most composers striving to find acceptance, rather than face rejection and starvation. When he “quit” music, he quit only compromise, and his music became “modern,” by default, his convictions remaining strong enough to brush off rejection from listeners, critics, other musicians, and amazingly, even some of his closest friends and family members. Sufficiently comfortable within himself, Ives did not chase anyone’s approval; receiving outside validation of the rightness of what he had done would not make his music good or bad.

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 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

line-height:115%”>Music in space and time

line-height:115%”>Despite some predictive flashes from a few creative figures of the period, and insupportable efforts to deny Ives the priority that he earned, again, it needs to be emphasized that indeed he was the first true avant-garde composer, and by more than a few years, at that. By the end of the new century’s first decade he had discovered, touched upon, formulated, or otherwise used, most of the new compositional devices of the twentieth century—and did so during a period in which musical culture still was dominated by the late nineteenth century European tradition, as defined by Dvořák and Brahms, or post-Romantics, such as Mahler and Sibelius.1 However, Ives also differed from the emerging new generation of European moderns, such as Debussy, even more, Schönberg, by not actively seeking to replace the musical language with another: instead, Ives sought to expand its vocabulary by using whatever served the expressive purposes best.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>However, Ives’s discoveries and developments would influence and affect no one; during his most productive years, he seemed disinterested in announcing them to the musical world. It was enough to be busily engaged with the quiet process of immersion in an evolving universe of sound. Perhaps, too, he rationalized that eventually his music would be played if it had any worth.

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 115%”> 

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line-height:115%”>Early innovations

line-height:115%”>As a youngster, Ives tried to duplicate on the piano the “street beat” of his father’s band, playing a rhythmically divided low tone cluster, one hand playing slightly ahead of the other; his father had done nothing to discourage it, nor the latent curiosity behind it. (“Piano drumming” is recreated frequently in Ives’s music, for example, in the 1914 song,
normal”>General William Booth Enters into Heaven
.) George Ives’s teaching included pitting different tonal centers (polytonality) together, in which an otherwise conventional melodic line was to be accompanied at the piano in a different key. As early as 1891, Ives built this technique in portions of his youthful Variations on America. Demonstrating, too, that indeed Ives knew how to do things the
11.0pt;line-height:115%”>“
115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>right”
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> way (according to his father’s admonition), this iconic little work also shows an early comfort with the unconventional. A later example of polytonality applied to composition is the little Fugue in Four Keys: on “The Shining Shore,” already detailed in Chapter 5. A few early examples of Ives’s childhood polytonal dabbling, too, have survived too, in his father's copybook; based on baroque imitative forms, they point to his grounding in the music of Bach as well, to the discomfort of his revisionist detractors, who have tried to ascribe all such insights to Ives’s studies with Parker.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Thus, well before his time at Yale, Ives understood and questioned the orthodox “rules” of tonality. The remarkable
normal”>Psalm 67
demonstrates what the future would hold, a work that he initiated under the guidance of his father, the surviving fair copy being made sometime in his last year at Yale.
line-height:115%;color:red”>
115%”>Hardly settled on Parker’s model, Ives’s radical ideas coexisted alongside the traditional all along.

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 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

line-height:115%”>The timeline

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line-height:115%”>After graduating from Yale, Ives would continue to explore linear (the horizontal) and harmonic combinations (the vertical) previously unknown, building structures using intervals outside customary practice. They continued even as he was confined to more conventional music as organist and choir director at Bloomfield, New York, and his more prestigious appointment at the Central Presbyterian Church in Manhattan (1900 to 1902). As might be expected, many of these works feature organ, or organ and chorus, and though unlikely to have been performed in the conservative environment of church services—especially in light of Ives’s own sensitivities toward inflicting such sounds on captive audiences2—it is entirely reasonable to assume that he would have taken every opportunity to elicit the cooperation of church musicians to try them out. Though his early works seem to embrace the ultra-modern, rhythmically and structurally, their logic, debt to tradition and musical apportionment remain largely intact, in many respects still reflecting other music of the time. At this point of time, it is hard to find comparable polytonality in the music of any other figure. The majority had not even considered the prospect at all.

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line-height:115%”>The dearth of large-scale or finished works during the four-year period between 1902 and 1906 would suggest that Ives refocused his life for a time around his business interests; however, his clear references to composing Thanksgiving (from the Holidays Symphony) and the Third Symphony show that he had not retreated into composing innovative miniatures only. Also expanding his language through the systematic organization of rhythm—all things related to ongoing horizontal processes (time). Such organization included independent rhythmic divisions (polyrhythms) that effectively created multiple speeds, and cyclical organized sub-structures, which could be made to interact with others in new and expressive ways. Further, regularly divided pulse could be expanded with irregular combinations and fractions, alongside the many potential interactive combinations of harmony and melody. Ives’s expansions of harmony and rhythm, in turn, can be tied to real life phenomena that he had known, and are directly related to long exposure to his father’s well-known curiosity of random and other acoustic phenomena.

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line-height:115%”>“Inflicting” many of his early ideas on his friends, while portraying them as jokes or party tricks, and eliciting their participation, Ives had a chance to judge their effectiveness in real time. Ives had a captive audience, his innovations becoming second nature long before he incorporated them into large-scale compositions. Thus, during his ten-year tenure living at “Poverty Flat” (the apartment housing “bachelor pads” in New York in which newly employed Yale graduates often resided), Ives’s innovations exploded, with countless surviving works and others now scattered and lost forming the beginnings of many of his major works. Perhaps even Ives still had no inkling of the extent of his creative potential, or the magnitude of its reach.

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line-height:115%”>Late in this period of creative immersion, however, Ives’s business prospects began to feel the pinch; the scandal of 1905 in the life insurance industry closed in all around him, ultimately resulting in the 1906 demise of the Raymond Agency where he worked. For a time, he must have felt that the ensuing fiasco and investigation would embroil him too. This stressful period affected his health badly, the first of his many well-known incidents occurring in 1905, followed by another worse scare in 1906. Without the benefit of modern diagnoses, it is hard to be specific about the nature of his illness, all manner of fanciful, even absurd speculation having been proposed over the years, Magee’s notwithstanding,3 though it was sufficient to sideline a young man of only thirty-two years of age. After a time spent at a Virginia health center to recuperate, Ives began to feel stronger, and his former optimism began to return.

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115%”>With new business prospects beckoning in the aftermath of the insurance industry debacle, Ives formed a partnership with his old colleague (Julian Myrick, his associate from his old job) to create a new agency, Ives & Co.; the office opened its doors at the beginning of 1907. This new venture would be short lived, however, because its parent company, Washington Life, would be absorbed into Pittsburgh Life and Trust, a company that had no agencies in New York. Undaunted, Ives and Myrick formed another new venture 1909 that returned the pair to the Mutual Insurance Co. fold. The company of Ives & Myrick would evolve to become the dominant life insurance agency in the country and the key to both partners’ considerable financial successes, both partners having unique talents and roles within it.

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115%”>Indeed, it is hardly an exaggeration that Ives, virtually single-handedly, was responsible for resurrecting the previously scandalized life industry, including a new actuarial system that created a self-sustaining, ethical business model for the far distant future. Thus, Ives had connected his Transcendental philosophy also to business! Redefining its structure, again using mathematics, Ives matched the company’s clients’ likely future needs with specific formulae, melding “scientific” principles of solid business practices with community responsibility. Providing long-term security for families, his system ensured that their provider could perpetuate its existence indefinitely. As such, Ives’s business model became the standard of the industry.

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none;text-autospace:none”>The spark ignited, Ives’s spare time composing accelerated with increasing energy, and substantial works began to emerge. Engaged in a near-frenzied period of composition; between work and writing, Ives became increasingly a recluse—Harmony, his wife, providing unwavering support at home. Ives surely recognized that his commitment to two full-time occupations would necessitate near round-the-clock engagement, although probably he reasoned he could balance his life. However, did he consider the long-term consequences and toll, physically, socially, and even emotionally? Regardless, the innovations continued during these years, especially, as Philip Lambert so artfully illustrated in his 1997 book, (The Music of Charles Ives), the development of cyclical, rhythmic, harmonic and melodic principles in his music.4 The connection of cycles with the grand design of the universe is easy to see; just as stars orbit their galactic cores, and planets orbit stars, consciously or not, it was hardly surprising that Ives would be drawn to cosmic order. In the grand design of his ultimate musical destination, the Universe Symphony, this very element would be fundamental throughout its length. (See Chapters 11 - 13; Appendix 2.)

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 12.0pt;line-height:115%”>Innovative miniatures

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line-height:115%;color:black”>Ives found huge potential with the principle of cycles. Potentially taking many forms, in the smallest sense, the spinning of a small figure into a large continuous stream by manipulating its structural makeup into joined musical prose, according to a systemized formula. In the largest sense, entire segments of music can be built in a single waveform and developed as a cycle in any number of ways. The waveform itself even can be built of multiple small cycles, and so forth—the fundamental cycle itself possibly comprised of definable pitches and intervals that can be variously manipulated in pitch (transposed) and rhythm, even placed upside-down (inverted), reversed (played in retrograde), the notes shuffled, combined or superimposed, etc. to develop their potential for a unified sonic structure within the composition.

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line-height:115%”>A demonstration of cyclically derived rhythmic waveforms may be heard in the innovative miniature, From the Steeples and the Mountains of 1901; one of the earliest such examples, potentially it dates thus to before much of the First Symphony. Amazingly, this little work is also striking for its multiple keys and rhythmic divisions, but also its cycles—some of the earliest—hinting even at some of the structural forms of the Universe Symphony, some fifteen-plus years later. The overall waveform is large—at about three-and-a minutes—and evolves through multiple sub-cycles built upon the simple sound of pealing church bells (in different keys and speeds). Four separate sets of bells and two pianos, a trumpet and trombone expound upon a canonic fragment generally considered to be from Taps—or is it Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean
 italic”>?

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line-height:115%”>Illustrating a large cycle in a near-perfect palindrome, the miniature for small instrumental group, Scherzo: All the Way Around and Back, c.1907, is about a baseball game, in which the base runner has to return from third base to first after a foul; the scherzo’s up-and-down waveform occupies only fifty seconds, or so, (aside from its noisy conclusion), and thus the piece is more akin to an idea, rather than a substantive musical excursion. A less than reflective derivation of Taps/Columbia is heard once again in the bugle.

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line-height:115%”>Ives’s little tone poem, The Pond (1906) features an early example of “spatial” writing (see later), with short, rhythmic transposing cycles superimposed upon the structure in the chamber group version of a few years later (in the harp and celesta). Ives referred to it as an “echo piece,” which indeed it is. If the vast landscapes that often had inspired him could be limitless and open, why not musical landscapes, too? Thus, as undulating impressionistic patterns and sustained harmonies paint a visually serene outdoor setting, a solo trumpet introduces an aural effect that attempted to recreate his father’s curiosity of the hauntingly subtle echo effects created when playing an instrument over a body of water.5 At the conclusion of a scene (cast at night?), the sound of a lone piccolo floats across the pond through the mists, again with a fragment of Taps. With that brief reference to something Ives would have heard his father play on many occasions, and perhaps fearing that he might become drawn into the insurance crisis and scandal taking place at the same time, was he, perhaps, yearning for his father’s reassuring presence? Stuart Feder, however, considered that Ives had a darker emotion on his mind: early death, like his father before him.6 This analysis is quite possible, of course, maybe even likely, especially considering Ives’s health concerns at the time.  

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The Pond, Central Park, New York

<Insert IMAGE – The Pond, Central Park, New York>

8.0pt”>Image courtesy Ed Yourdon

 

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line-height:115%”>The Gong on the Hook and Ladder,
likely belonging to somewhere from the end of the first decade and beginning of the next, is another of Ives’s innovative miniatures, its primary emphasis being on rhythmic interaction, not to mention, projected through his innate sense of humor. In trying to depict a local small town parade—in this instance that of the volunteer fire department—the piece emulates their struggles with heavy equipment during their slow march in the procession through town. Although the musicians’ band depicted was barely able to keep to an even beat (illustrated musically by the ill-matching irregular rhythmic notation), nor able to play in tune (simulated by Ives’s carefully alternating pitch alignments), the up-and-down terrain would cause the firemen unintentionally to vary their pace, and the efforts to keep the engine gong ringing steadily often ending up out of step with the music.

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line-height:115%”>In order to capture the humor of the situation, almost funnier as the company went downhill than up, Ives applied his newly evolving methods to build complex rhythms and harmonies into patterns that only come together every so often. Incorporating the displacement and combinations of rhythms to mimic what he had observed in real life required thinking on multiple levels and in different speeds, exploring new melodic/harmonic structures, as well as unlikely instrumental combinations outside commonly ordained musical practices. Keen ears will catch Ives’s parody of Oh, My Darling Clementine, Marching Through Georgia, and Few Days.

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Nineteenth century fire truck

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{{PD-Art}}

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115%”>Hardly less iconic, Ives’s famous little ragtime Scherzo: Over the Pavements, belonging to both the first decade the second, in which it was refined and completed, is scored for small chamber orchestral ensemble. As a further demonstration of the rapid development of multi-compartmented ideas, Ives combined many rhythmic and harmonic entities in seemingly uncoordinated patterns, though unsurprisingly, cyclical ratios play a formative role in both the partitioned elements and the chord structures. With rhythmic and harmonic complexity that is mind-boggling, the sound is utterly appealing and effective; though Ives might well have been conducting what was only an intriguing observation of life, the result is high art.

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115%”>Remarkable, too, was Ives’s use of 12-tone rows and aggregates in the linear components. Inspired by the random patter of horse and foot traffic on the street below, Ives also anticipated in the middle portion the sonic essence of Stravinsky’s future neoclassicism that reached into the third decade, in which a particular school of thought attempted to bring back the purity, efficiency and economy of the classic age, in a final rejection of romanticism.

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First Set for Chamber Orchestra


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115%”>Over the years, Ives would recognize that a many of his miniatures stood up well as viable concert works in their own right. Too short to program individually, subsequently, he began to arrange them in groups, such as the First Set for Chamber Orchestra of 1907–13. An assembly of six miniatures, far from being merely innovative exercises, Ives had created a treasure trove of charming and utterly engaging little masterworks that support each other as a whole:

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·   
115%”>The See’r
, a lively scherzo, like many pieces later adapted into a song, opens the set in a dissonant ragtime idiom, with jazzy rhythms almost cast again within a neoclassical style. Here, cyclical components and augmented harmonies are built into a complex structure of intricately syncopated and opposing lines that compliment each other by the shared gravity of a common rhythmic pulse. The subject of the song was an old man sitting outside a grocery store, apparently oblivious to the world, though actually seeing and knowing all. The complex “code” behind the music represents the “See’r”; the apparent simplicity of the song represents the judgmental onlookers, who dismiss him as a senile simpleton, and perhaps the complex subtleties of the music itself.

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115%”>A Lecture
is an amusing representation of college memory. Multiple rhythmic elements, even actual chatter (!), combine to suggest a classroom called to order by the professor (a cornet). The lecture proceeding, complex monotone rhythmic articulations in compounding sequences represent the students vigorously jotting down notes; in this case, the (professor’s) disjoined melodic line is contrasted against the (students’) independent linear rhythms, set in block chords. The wide leaps of the cornet line likely were the direct result of one of George Ives’s piano exercises: playing fast chromatic scales, each note appears in a different octave. Ives transferred the idea more literally into other works, such as the cadenza in Scherzo: Over the Pavements.) Adding other instruments into the fray, and innovatively introducing serialistic (mathematically incremental) evolutions of the materials, both rhythmically and harmonically, the lecture concludes with a summation and victorious dismissal by the professor!

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115%”>The Ruined River

115%;mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>,
line-height:115%”>adapted much later (in 1921) from materials used in Ives’s earlier song, The New River of 1911, reveals some of his political leanings, in addition to an amazing array of transposing short cycles; throwing in a brief reference to Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay!
italic”>, the words from it and another version of the same song bemoan the dangers of machines, oppressive working conditions, and the age of entertainment. Aside from the chromatically descending burst in the upper lines at the outset, The Ruined River evolves largely in whole step movements, the melodic line contrasting the vigorous, strongly figurative accompaniment (frequently an octave and a step apart) that contain the innovative cyclical structure. Before the final rush to what resembles the blast of a car horn, a fanfare-like back-and-forth figure outlines the primary line, in the song version featuring the words, “killed is the blare of the hunting horn.” Ives also set The New River for chorus and orchestra in, perhaps, its most telling version.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Compositionally a late entrant into the set, Like a Sick Eagle, of 1913, is a graphic musical representation of Keats’ poem about a once majestic bird in its death throes. Likely triggered by Ives’s recollection of Harmony’s miscarriage in 1909, and written originally as a song, it features another innovation: the use of quarter-tones amongst the sliding chromatic intervals in the violins. Although Ives was not the first composer to incorporate microtones into western music (such techniques having been occasionally explored by composers centuries before), likely he was the first to utilize quarter-tones in modern times. For more detailed analysis of the song version, see Chapter 8. More significant are the different increments by which the melodic line and harmonies move, to form opening and closing separations of intervals that create an almost disembodied and listless sense of tonality.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·   
115%”>Calcium Light Night

115%”> (c.1907), often stands on its own, having started its life as a form of parody that Ives listed amongst his “Cartoons or Take-Offs.” Trying out a large palindrome format within its highly programmatic content, it was supposed to represent the sounds of students in a fraternity ritual parade at Yale, in which the marchers carried different colored lighted torches from room to room for the induction of new members. Built in a large palindromic cycle, rhythmic, tonal and melodic sub-cycles are variously superimposed on drumming, tightly knit chords in the piano (four hands). Manipulating entering fragments of fraternity tunes, Psi Upsilon Marching Song, A Band of Brothers in DKE, Few Days, Jolly Dogs, Marching through Georgia, and Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the marchers approach and pass, as the musical components reverse the order of their entries to drop out one by one, making a two-and-a-half minute cycle in all. Assembled by Henry Cowell in 1936 from incomplete sketch score and copious directions by Ives himself, Ives stated the results perfectly represented his intentions.

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Symbol”>·    When the Moon Is On the Wave, (another celestial reference) might date to as early as 1907, and is built on just two basic entities. First, a flowing
"MS 明朝"”>arpeggiated piano part, (broken chordal lines in wave-like motion), is later joined by the flute in opposing motion. Second, also in wave-like contours,
mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"”>a melody is initially divided
color:windowtext;mso-fareast-language:JA”>between violins and cornet in staggered (
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"”>canonic)
color:windowtext;mso-fareast-language:JA”> entrances one step short of an octave apart, and further, a half-step below the accompaniment. As the cornet takes the lead towards a peak, the motion ceases, and all forces briefly come together, rhythmically and harmonically stepping up to the key of the piano accompaniment; with a shimmering chord hanging over the now-emboldened cornet, the violins join in the final reflection
mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝";color:windowtext;mso-fareast-language:JA”>.

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line-height:115%”>Paving the road to the stars

line-height:115%”>The successful results of this period would lead to the incorporation of many new techniques within more substantive, larger-scale works, even the early Overture and March to 1776 (1903), and the Country Band March (1905). Both of these compositions would show up again later still, further developed together into the second movement (Putnam’s Camp) of the important First Orchestral Set, better known as Three Places in New England, from around 1912. In its evolved form, in which Ives freely mixed and matched compounded elements to imitate the interactions of independent marching bands, he recalled the now-famous events of his father
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>’s past of the clashing of two marching bands.
"MS 明朝"”>It is worth briefly referencing the controversies long surrounding the dating of Putnam’s Camp, substantively dealt with in Appendix 1, and effectively closing the matter. With the lineage clearly demonstrated to belong to earlier material, it becomes immediately apparent that Putnam’s Camp was only one stop along an extremely modern road, already largely paved.

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"”>Following the experience gained in combining traditional opposites, Ives freely incorporated them within many of his advanced
"Times New Roman"”>compositions
115%”> as tools to expand the musical medium, wide enough in scope to reflect his personal experiences, outlook, spiritual and philosophical values. Because he utilized whatever technique(s) expressed his thoughts most appropriately, no specific methodology dictated his choices. Thus, his large-scale works maintained elements even of his traditional musical roots—even at the far end of his output. Regardless, the type of spirituality reflected in Ives’s music
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> not quite in line with traditional religious expression increasingly, can be connected to Transcendental philosophies. This search for relevant personal meaning coincided, of course, with some truly remarkable music.

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115%”>Two substantial, though short, works from this period have become standard repertoire, and were as much responsible for setting Ives’s musical course as any. One, Central Park in the Dark (A Contemplation of Nothing Serious), originally was conceived as part of a group—with The Pond and
normal”>Hallowe’en
in the proposed Three Outdoor Scenes. Eventually, however, it was paired with The Unanswered Question (A Contemplation of a Serious Matter), appearing as Two Contemplations. Regardless, all the above works are usually performed separately!

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115%”>A striking characteristic common to both was antiphonal writing in both works, resurrecting an idea from centuries before; Giovani Gabrielli (the Venetian composer of the reformation) often had positioned individual choirs of brass instruments on opposite sides of the sonically-grand Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark in Venice, creating wide-open sonorities long considered amongst the most effective demonstrations in Western music of antiphonal writing. Placed in distinctly separated locations as intended, the “spatial” effect is awe-inspiring. Handel tried it, too, in some of his more festive works; the Royal Fireworks Music was reputed to have used widely separated forces across the River Thames. In developing the idea further, Ives would create music not just separated sonically, but also entirely unrelated as musical entities—as if suspended in different places in space and time. Mahler’s work in this vein also is well known,7 though the relationships between the separate layers remain linked from a musical standpoint; as true parallel realities, Ives’s work linked them only in the totality of the music.  

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115%”>Another common characteristic was the actual notation of multiple independent speeds, rather than simulating them in notation by complex divisions of a common meter. More remarkable still was the layering in their design, the potential of parallel levels and trains of thought previously not considered.

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The Unanswered Question
12.0pt;line-height:115%”> (a Cosmic Landscape)

 

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115%”>Of the two spatial compositions, The Unanswered Question, was perhaps the first time Ives stepped fully into the cosmic abyss. Deceptively simple, it is encompasses three separate levels of awareness, set in three individual speeds and tonalities that blend together the purely tonal, diffusely tonal and purely atonal. As if projecting a far away place across great expanse and distance from the perspective of his own earthly surroundings, Ives seems lost in deep contemplation about his place in eternity. If he was beginning to glimpse his place amongst the stars, The Unanswered Question seems to mark the point that began to define it in musical terms. Composed perhaps as early as 1906, it surely cannot date later than 1908, regardless. As one of Ives’s most celebrated compositions, The Unanswered Question demonstrates a rapidly evolving creativity, even a newfound purpose—its otherworldly and expansive sounds, divergent musical components, cyclical and dodecaphonic elements, and strangely satisfying, yet bizarrely disembodied language—in one short work, Ives produced something for the ages.

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<Insert IMAGE – The Unanswered Question (a Cosmic Landscape)>

Image courtesy ESA/Hubble, R. Sahai and NASA

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line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    An off-stage “choir” of string instruments (sonically, all the more effective when played by a hushed, larger section to maximize the blend of pitch, sound, and otherworld, static quality) plays an extremely slow, widely spaced progression of simple chords, mostly in descending patterns, and repeating, if not necessarily literal cycles. Commencing with a sustained G major chord, the “choir” plays alone for the first minute, creating the impression of timelessness, acceptance, and a far distant horizon—“The Silence of the Druids”—of Ives’s descriptions in which the strings represent the serene state of “knowing, seeing and hearing nothing.”

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A solo trumpet poses the first of many statements of “the eternal question of existence.” The figure occupies a vague key center that arguably could belong almost anywhere, though seems to gravitate immediately to the note above that of its outset. Were the sheet music to be turned on its side, the notation of the trumpet figure would appears curiously akin to the outline of an actual question mark, laterally inverted. Should one assume this “pun” had been the intent, it could be argued that such a defining symbol might have been made to conform even more closely than it does. Nevertheless, the prospect is enticing.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The string choir begins to move at strategic moments relative to the trumpet “question”; when it is active, the strings are passive, and vice versa.
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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Answered quietly by four flutes (two of which may be substituted by oboe and clarinet), in random atonal, unknowing mumblings, comprised of a descending and ascending atonal wedge built from lines a half-step apart, though spread over more than an octave—and in aggregate, having dodecaphonic origins.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The trumpet question is posed another six times, each except the last answered by increasingly agitated and incoherent woodwind babble, growing in intensity and shrillness with each huddled discussion, even taking the notes of the question in rapid, mocking derision of the question—eventually taking the actual succession of notes to begin their response.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The responses, thus, reflect also serialistic thought, each being progressively louder and faster—an early precursor to the studied application of serialism in twentieth century music.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The great mysteries about life, death, and eternity, remaining, as ever, irresolvable—after some final shrill screams of laughter from the flutes—all that remains is the stillness of the strings holding a final G major chord, while one final plaintive, seemingly more reflective statement of the question is posed; unable to answer it, the woodwinds leave the listener suspended, as if hanging in space.

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line-height:115%;color:black;mso-fareast-language:JA”>Ives “engineered” the competing entities to fall against each other at the most poignant places relative to the string choir progressions; his placement was nothing short of inspired. Despite the fact that every performance will produce slight variations in the precise alignments, it results in no change to the musical effect! Such loose coordinations reflect, too, the beginnings of aleatoric writing, and another anticipation of techniques made famous by others in the following years.

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝";mso-fareast-language:JA”>Although Ives would revise this work in the 1930’s, its character was not fundamentally altered, even though the trumpet question alternates its last note back and forth (utilizing two different pitches) with each statement, and the flute parts are somewhat more shrill and complex. Even a casual hearing clarifies that the revisions were neither radical, and, contrary to the assertions of some, did not make the piece more dissonant, as demonstrated by Carol K. Baron.8 Indeed, the slightly modified last note(s) of the question only confirm its tonal, consonant roots. In this instance, the revised edition results in a smoother and slightly more colorful whole—though the original stands still as the same piece.

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Thus,
normal”>one
question did get answered: how modern the original version of any work revised later by Ives actually was. As a prime demonstration of the nature and extent of his revisions, it can be seen that Ives’s conceptions of any given work were whole from the beginning, the later revisions seldom changing it in any substantive way; further, many composers typically have revisited long-existing compositions to refine details; Ives’s practice was more the norm than the exception. It is only in the manner he has been treated that is unknown.

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line-height:115%”>In the few years since its first performance (in 1946), The Unanswered Question has become almost institutional amongst Ives followers, even amongst those who do not know the haunting music they are hearing as underscore to a film or television production has an identity, let alone in an existing concert work—even more by a composer of whom they might never have heard! Seeming, too, to stake its claim as one of the most iconic little masterpieces of the twentieth century, it was written so early into the new century that it almost belonged to the one before.

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115%”>Was The Unanswered Question perhaps Ives’s own “Music of the Spheres?” This was Pythagoras’ view from the ancient world, in which mathematical ratios between the eight known members of the greater solar system were thought to create a type of silent music in the Heavens.

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The Music of the Spheres


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Italian Renaissance engraving showing the planetary spheres and musical ratios {{PD-Art}}

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115%”>Paralleling the eight notes of the scale as cosmic forces somehow was seen to reflect oneness with man. Of course, it was too soon in history for Pythagoras to know that there were more than eight members of the solar system—the minor planets (planetoids), asteroids and comets alone fundamentally alter forever any notions of the ancient model. However, Ives himself was enamored of the tuning system of Pythagoras, and would feature it many years later in the Universe Symphony, along with many mathematically-relative musical devices that again broke new ground in music, and linked it to the near-processional processes of the cosmos. The Unanswered Question seems to inhabit that place. In the few years since its first performance (in 1946), The Unanswered Question has become almost institutional amongst Ives followers, even amongst those who do not know the haunting music they are hearing as underscore to a film or television production has an identity, let alone in an existing concert work—even more by a composer of whom they might never have heard! Seeming, too, to stake its claim as one of the most iconic little masterpieces of the twentieth century, it is so early into the new century that it almost belonged to the one before.

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line-height:115%”>Central Park in the Dark

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115%”>At one time Central Park in the Dark was known by a longer title than it is now:
normal”> Central Park in the Dark in “The Good Old Summertime,”
owing the second part of the title to a popular 1902 Tin Pan Alley tune—setting the time of year. Could the melody, too, have had some special connotations in this composition, even though it does not appear?
line-height:115%”> Ives recalled the sounds that could be heard from a park bench across the stillness of the night—from casinos, street singers, rowdy gadflies, people enjoying ragtime on pianolas (player-pianos) from their apartments, a fire engine, street cars and the like, even to a runaway horse and buggy—all merging in and out of the still dark fabric of the warm night air in a scene similar to many still possible to experience today. In featuring a number of quotes from the most vernacular of sources, primarily the once iconic Ben Bolt, the Scottish-derived The Campbells are Comin’, the true ragtime, Hello! Ma Baby, and Sousa’s
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, the identities of these fragments, however, have been transformed in the classic Ives manner, so that none, with the exception of Hello! Ma Baby, are easy to detect—
"Times New Roman"”>even the latter has undergone significant rhythmic and pitch transformations to give it a wilder and more reckless character.

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115%”>Ives would raise the layered and “spatial” ideas of
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to new extremes, the material of the independent string choir (common to both pieces) featuring a true cycle and new types of harmonies, featuring structures he had developed during the late 1890’s and into the new century. The handling of the strings differs, too, from that of The Unanswered Question, the volume growing alongside the emerging cacophony elsewhere, even though its speed remains constant. Central Park in the Dark, however, is anything but the spiritual excursion of its sister piece, although the perfectly portrayed scene of its darkly “spatial” sonorities puts it into a category of music, to the modern listener, that belongs to another place and time—though not necessarily the past!

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115%”>In a brief article about Central Park in the Dark in the book, The Philosophy of Music: Theme and Variations, by Aaron Ridley, one can begin to surmise what Ives experienced during his lifetime at the hands of ill-comprehending and closed-minded critics.
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For Ridley’s commentary to have appeared anywhere near this day and age (2005) is more than surprising; having been published by a major university press, startling. Although Ridley seemed well attuned to the intent of the music, at least, even the significance of its priority—somehow the context, structure, or even the musical imagery of Ives’s sound painting was beyond him. Dismissively mischaracterizing the deliberate inconsistencies of its musical components, and in the absence of detailed, step-by-step program notes, Ridley missed entirely what the music conveys, its revolutionary sonics and design, even its stunning artistic content, as he quickly brushed aside Ives’s masterpiece.

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115%”>However, if, instead, we ignore such vapid commentary, Central Park in the Dark stands as an iconic and futuristic soundscape, undiminished by the time of over a century, locked into a surreal and contemplative dalliance with the circumstances of its time of creation.

 

 

line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The silence of the night is represented by the string section; it is as distinctive and effective a portrayal of an extra-musical idea as anything ever conceived, sonically curiously anticipating Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste (1936) by Béla Bartók, some thirty years later. Harmonically, moving in parallel blocks in an endlessly drifting cyclical ostinato, Ives’s “night” chords are structured from unconventional intervals—perfect fourths and fifths, instead of thirds. (Such parallel harmonies correspond coincidentally, too, though more radically, to some yet earlier works by Erik Satie.) The level of dissonant harmonic tension fluctuates throughout the repeating cycle, its internal rhythmic accumulation and relaxation, range and total tones continuing independent of all that is around it, and avoiding any sense of perceptibly defined pace.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Hauntingly, like a night owl, the clarinet twice gently hoots fragments of Ben Bolt, a popular song at the time, and supposedly suggesting the sounds emanating from the casino nearby. A good example of Ives’s ability to transform whatever he was quoting, in order to infuse it with the character of another context entirely, it is well demonstrated in these clarinet passages. Joined later by the flute and oboe, set a half step and half beat apart (apparently imitating street musicians), and even a solo violin with a fragment of Violets (another tune of long ago), the mood is interrupted by the rhythmic ghosting of
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.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    With another quote from Ben Bolt, and to
normal”>Hello! Ma Baby
, the music begins to gather momentum at a rapid pace, the strings maintaining the original tempo, while all other members of the ensemble move increasingly fast with each new segment.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The music develops over various repeating 12-bar cycles built on Hello! Ma Baby initiated by the piano; the earlier melodic fragment in the flute and oboe continues to conjure up bawdy street musicians.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The flute and oboe are joined by the E-flat clarinet; in canonic response to the piano it stridently hoots Hello! Ma Baby at a faster tempo still, the curiously twisted identity of the tune now completely clear.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    An interruption from the trombone, with rhythmic jabs in the second piano, continues the musical buildup, while in the uppermost flute line short, discreet references to
normal”>The Campbells are Comin’
appear, placed so subtly one could be forgiven for missing them entirely. Later, the second piano enters with what appears to be Freshmen in Park in a major key—or perhaps is it derived from the ghoulish funeral melody of a minor key, The Worms Crawl In?
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In the major form it also suggests the English nursery rhyme, Boys and Girls Come Out to Play, which certainly would not have been inappropriate in the context.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Finally,
normal”>Hello! Ma Baby
bursts in with full force, the trumpet taking the lead, the E-flat clarinet echoing it imitatively (in canon), while the second piano plays Sousa’s Washington Post March off the beat, in the style of a street band.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Compounding matters, Freshmen in Park shrieks high above the fray, ultimately assuming its own tempo, while the orchestra builds into the final frenzy that Ives described as a runaway horse and buggy crashing into a fence.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The wild pandemonium, even with what sounds like flapping bat wings, cuts off abruptly, leaving the string ostinato drifting into the stillness of the night, the clarinet once again intoning Ben Bolt, with a solitary flute and violin echoing it.

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115%”>At this stage of Ives’s compositional life, with Central Park in the Dark and The Unanswered Question, Ives had embarked on his road to the stars; there would be no turning back. Although the scenes he painted often seem to evoke the past, they took him to the future—to places perhaps beyond even his wildest imagination. Maintaining, rather than jettisoning his roots, Ives had defied the norm of his soon-to-be contemporaries—even before they had established much at all!—and as he did so, created a powerful balance of familiar and alien that stands unique in all Western music.

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REFERENCES

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line-height:115%”>1.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>David Nicholls, American experimental Music (Cambridge University Press, UK, 1990), 33.

line-height:115%”>2.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Charles E. Ives, Memos, ed. John Kirkpatrick (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972), 128.

line-height:115%”>3.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Gayle Sherwood Magee,
normal”>Charles Ives Reconsidered
, (University of Illinois Press, Chicago, IL, 2008), 74 – 82.

line-height:115%”>4.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Philip Lambert, The Music of Charles Ives (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1997).

line-height:115%”>5.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Henry and Sidney Cowell,
normal”>Charles Ives and His Music
(Oxford University Press, UK, 1969), 20.

line-height:115%”>6.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Stuart Feder, Charles Ives: “My Father’s Song,” a Psychoanalytic Biography (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1992), 197–98.

line-height:115%”>7.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Leon Botstein, “Innovations and Nostalgia: Ives, Mahler, and the Origins of Modernism,” in Charles Ives and his World, ed. J. Peter Burkholder, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1996), 45–46.

mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace:none”>8. Carol K. Baron, “Dating Charles Ives’s Music: Facts and Fictions,” Perspectives of New Music (Winter issue, 1990): 26–29.

mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace:none”>10. Aaron Ridley, The Philosophy of Music: Theme and Variations
normal”>Edinburgh
(University Press, Edinburgh, UK) 2004.


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 115%”>CHAPTER 7

Ives in Danbury

 

 

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11.0pt;line-height:115%”>ves’s hometown of Danbury, Connecticut, was the focal point of his upbringing, and consequently his perceptions of America. Life in small towns during the nineteenth century was rugged, simple and honest, their citizens’ semi-isolated state of existence only reinforced by the difficulties of travel. Cultural traditions mattered. In Danbury, since most of its residents had direct links through their families to the Civil War, and its lingering spirit of survival and renewal fostered mutual support of each other. Shared observance of patriotic holidays further bonded them, which, in turn, was strengthened by communal worship, and for many, the practice of old-time revivalist religion.

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line-height:115%”>Ives seemed to know that his Danbury horizons ultimately were too provincial, too limiting. More to the point, once he had moved away, and once his father departed this life soon afterwards, it was as if the town also had gone with him, too, the changes brought to it in the new century further heightening all that he was losing. Ives’s brand of Transcendentalism would propel him to new destinations, though spiritually physically far from the provincial town of his beginnings, Ives would continue to inhabit the town of his vivid memories almost to the end of his journey to eternity. Surely it can be no coincidence that after his mother, Mollie, died—although Danbury was geographically close to West Redding—Ives chose not to return to his beloved Danbury to visit, other than once, his reaction upon seeing it for the last time in 1939 a shocking reminder that the town, as he once knew it, no longer existed.

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line-height:115%”>The twentieth century had brought an alarming invasion of all things alien to Ives’s values: hedonism, automation, mechanization, depersonalization, an increasingly superficial media, and the slick and glossy world of entertainment that came with it—and advancing ever faster. Although Ives’s visions of an enlightened world was dealt a mighty blow by World War I and its aftermath, he tried to maintain his optimism for the future, in which an elevated populace would be free from oppression and the dictates of corrupt politicians. His gradual withdrawal into a near seclusion was as much a reflection of the discomfort with the outside world as it was his failing health; it seems he was not unhappy occupying the solitude and inner peace that he found at home.

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line-height:115%”>The Danbury of Ives’s youth could remain a sanctuary, frozen forever in time, a place in which he still remain as a compositional proving ground; still more, he would memorialize it. As those he had known slowly faded from the scene, and with them their ways and traditions, Ives’s horizons would be untouched by the encroaching world. What mattered to him did not have to be sacrificed on the alter of “progress.” Ives could relive the Danbury he knew as long as he wished. Ives would write many compositions that are centered on this colorful scene and nearby locales; from the earliest years he began with youthful little marches, and organ pieces based often on familiar melodies, some of which continued to evolved into larger soundscapes, such as the Symphony of Holidays (the subject of this chapter), Putnam’s Camp (from Three Places in New England), some of the Second Symphony and most of the Third, even some of the Fourth. Though Ives’s horizons eventually would include his experiences in New York City (e.g. Central Park in the Dark), simple observations of life provided his predominant musical subjects.

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line-height:115%”>Thus, Danbury and its people remained the perfect locale, Ives’s personal connection to them an open window into the essence of his world. As Ives’s unique impressionistic recollections were incorporated within his music, so too were they balanced even with the conservative musical language of Parker’s training, guided by his father’s teaching, theories and curiosity, colored by the characteristic quotations of religious and secular materials, and most importantly, enabled by a vast new resource of methodology that matched his aspirations. Ives’s unselfconscious blending of uncompromising stylistic entities, his advanced recognition of previously undiscovered potential, and its incorporations within remarkable systemized structural thought, seems to stand alone in all music.

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The Symphony of Holidays


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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>The Symphony of Holidays—hardly a more fitting representation of Ives’s proving ground, and remaining safely within the sheltered confines of Danbury—here, bold revolutionary ideas would evolve into mature musical language; in this instance, four pieces for orchestra would reflect patriotic holidays. Collected together, Ives later would wrap the title “symphony” around them. Even though the idea for such a work hatched early in the new century, immediately it is clear that originally Ives did not conceive the music of each movement collectively, since the first three begin in a similar vein. Thus, one should not expect any type of formal plan, such as would be found in a true symphony. Although all the movements may be played separately, they share common festive themes that were high points in the young Ives’s cultural heritage. Because each festive holiday occurred during the four different seasons, as seen through the eyes of “small town” New England, they are sometimes loosely termed Ives’s Four Seasons.

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>Ives left fairly extensive commentary about the Symphony of Holidays in Memos
italic”>, which serve to answer most questions. However, his comments seem positioned as if the reader is already familiar with the subject, so not every critical detail seems addressed, despite the breadth of his discussion.1 Ives remained loathe as ever to reveal too much of his methodology. As textbook examples of Ives’s more mature evolved mid-style, the movements of the symphony reveal the bona fide modernist, yet one spiritually bonded to days long gone, the charm of his world setting all that he stood for far apart from any contemporary or future radical. With the exception of Thanksgiving, Ives cast the four movements through the perspective of his actual experiences growing up in that thriving hub of the hatting industry in New England during the late nineteenth century. Though Ives put the listener into the vivid scenes as he knew them, but only some of the content is spelled out—the remainder being left to the listener’s imagination. The last movement, Thanksgiving, differs from the others in being only to a degree programmatic, and based more around community observance rather than his own.

 

 

Washington’s Birthday


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115%”>Far from being a composition steeped in reverence, Ives chose to paint a picture of the annual celebration in a work full of humor and near irreverence. Not that any disrespect was intended towards “The Father of our Country,” but in Danbury the occasion marked a night of joyous winter revelry, rather than sedate observance. Starting, however, in a serious vein with imagery of winter snow scenes, the listener is led to expect an entirely different outcome as the music proceeds. Depicting a young person’s celebration of the holiday, this little work features a romp across the snow to a celebration at the local barn dance. Finished around 1913 from preliminary sketches started in 1909, the movement features the smallest orchestra amongst the set, together with a Jew’s harp (!), of all unlikely instruments to round out the ensemble, though entirely in keeping with actual practice at such dances. Thanks to modern amplification, only one such instrument is required, whereas Ives considered that up to a hundred might have been needed; in fact, many people at such a dance celebration would have had one with them, so such a number was far from a composer’s unrealistic sonic pipe dream!

 

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115%”>In festivities such as these, there might have been as many as three or more actual separate dances taking place within the cavernous space, as well as other players improvising their own additions to all that was going on; still more might have fallen out of line, as the drinks flowed! A scene Ives had witnessed many times since childhood, the naturally resulting multiple speeds, rhythms, separate musical layers and random consequences corresponding perfectly to his instincts. As such, he tried to capture in Washington’s Birthday what he had witnessed, even as it defied precise analysis. Despite the incorporation of a number of advanced technical features, stylistically, the movement might seem closer to the music of Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day than the others, though it parts company in its multi-layered polyphony and polytonality that belong decidedly to a later time.

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line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The opening paints a deep winter, snow-clad scene. John Kirkpatrick considered it likely that the section contained quoted material derived from two tunes that feature home life; perhaps they were meant to portray cozy cottages dotted across the landscape. What seem to be references to the beginning of Home, Sweet Home in the violins, and Old Folks at Home in the horns can be heard in a musical dialog, though neither are outright quotes (except, perhaps, initially that in the horn), and one could be forgiven for not identifying them at all.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The horn drops out, as the violins continue in a hauntingly high register, with one last allusion to Old Folks at Home, a complex polytonal section with the flute and oboe is built on a shifting arpeggiated figure that ascends from the lowest registers.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    An extended section for the strings follows, with a substantial line of shadow counterpoint in the flute; featuring gentle syncopated chords, their strident dissonance notwithstanding, the music continues to paint the bleak winter horizons, and does not feature quoted material.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The music grows more restless, as the strings soar higher in register and gentle bells join the ensemble in with additional shadow writing; was it supposed to represent sleigh-bells? Repeated chord articulations interrupt the flow.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The horn joins with a serene melodic line, accompanied by fragmented strings, the arpeggiated figure again appearing below.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Increasing motion suddenly emerges out of the stillness of the snow scene. It is the famous portrayal of the romp through the snow; as the shadow lines become increasingly restless, the strings take over in up-and-down waves of strident chords representing the hills and dales, moving in parallel and built from unconventional intervals. On the page, the chordal movement resembles sledding tracks.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A snippet of Turkey in the Straw can be heard in the flute, followed by an even smaller clip from Sailor’s Hornpipe, thought by Kirkpatrick possibly to represent the distant sounds of music wafting from the still distant barn. The music winds down, as if in anticipation of things to come.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    With a fanfare of string chords, the dance begins! For a time, its largely traditional gait lulls the listener into musical complacency, until a fragment of the Sailor’s Hornpipe in the flute indicates that some of the assembled group has broken away on their own. Soon, another group separates to strains of Camptown Races. Someone is singled out for a pat on the back with a fragment of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow (perhaps, even, Washington?), a fragment interjected into the flow. During this emerging scene of revelry, complex syncopated rhythms, even predictive sliding low string clusters speak to the modernity of the music, belying the superficially folksy charm.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Clumsily lurching to a stop, someone takes a Jew’s harp out of his pocket and joins the group, which has now started playing The White Cockade. The flute chimes in a fragment of Turkey in the Straw, followed by “Down in de cornfield” (Massa’s in de Cold Ground) in a low register, both seeming like half-hearted attempts to get something else going. The flute, now sounding lost, adds to the humorous, growing near-chaos, as separate dances break out all over the barn!

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Turkey in the Straw joins again more fully and confidently, eventually switching to piccolo, as The White Cockade continues in the strings, and now The Campbells are Comin’ joins the musical disarray.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The horn morphs into Garryowen, which only further compounds matters when it switches to St. Patrick’s Day, as the piccolo tries to play Fisher’s Hornpipe. By now, the musicians are becoming increasingly disorganized as near chaos takes over, the increasingly polytonal and cyclical texture vividly depicting the scene.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Coming to a screeching halt, with a tone cluster (similar to the last chord of the Second Symphony)—precisely indicative of George Ives’s customary cue to call it a night—all that is left are the “sentimental songs” of Ives’s description (in the strings, later joined by horn and bells), with a solitary violin still playing a shadow part, apparently reluctant to call it a night: a blend of Pig Town Fling and Turkey in the Straw, unsurprisingly in different keys, and another a throwback to the Second Symphony. A weary Goodnight Ladies in the strings and flute ushers the exhausted partygoers back into the snow in the middle of the night to trudge home in the still night air.

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line-height:115%”>Washington’s Birthday

line-height:115%”> ranks with The Fourth of July as being amongst the most lighthearted compositions of all of Ives’s larger scale works. One should approach it with this consideration in mind and not try to intellectualize the music too greatly; intended to be taken in the spirit of the festivities they represented, they pieces are some in which all can share in the fun.

 

 

Decoration Day

 

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115%”>Decoration Day was the nineteenth century forerunner of Memorial Day in America, observed as a national public holiday to commemorate those who died in the Civil War, in which brother fought brother. The holiday would have evoked strong emotions and memories for Ives, because not only was his father a survivor of it, but also had led the band every year in the march from the cemetery (that his grandfather had been a part of its founding) back into town. Now George Ives, too, was one of Charles Ives’s fallen war heroes. Stuart Feder saw George’s role as central to the music, although, his further interpretation of some of the underlying imagery seems, especially now, self-consciously stretched beyond incredulity—even into the realm of the ludicrous.2

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115%”>Dating this work is a little tricky. Though stylistically, falling in line with Ives’s dates (1912/1913), what survives of the supposed original sketch materials and incarnation (for violin and piano) has become a victim of the faux “science” of manuscript paper dating that has placed it untenably a couple of years later! Significantly, however, Ives notated years later that the violin version was arranged from the orchestral score, which would seem to solve the riddle, although Kirkpatrick disagreed! Actually, parts of the work might date from far earlier (even to 1886), according to Ives’s remarks in Memos, having apparently existed in other formats (now lost), most notably, however, the 1887 Adeste Fideles section featured so prominently, once part of Ives’s teenage Slow March for brass band that he noted he had reused in Decoration Day.3

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115%”>If Decoration Day is a less radical composition than might have been expected, its somber religiosity, and ties to the memories of his father, probably dictated taking a more reverent, less extreme approach, just as he had in his earlier church compositions. In any event, it is still decidedly in advance of the Third Symphony, but greatly distant from the Fourth or Universe Symphonies. As in the Third Symphony, Ives featured a part in true shadow counterpoint at times; in most of the remainder, it can be only loosely described thus, and is found mimicking the first violin part, typically a half-step apart. Feder’s speculation that the violin might represent his father certainly is possible, but in view of similar writing in other works the supposition cannot be sustained. There are moments, too, that seem to speak of the poetic works of Delius—the British composer whose music shortly predated Ives—with a similar type of impressionistic imagery (e.g. Brigg Fair of 1907). Whether Ives had heard any of that composer's work is not known, although it seems unlikely.

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115%”>Overall, however, the writing speaks in Ives’s distinct harmonic language (and hence sound), the chord structures often being formed from notes a step, or only a half step apart, though placed in different octaves. The intervals between these notes have a ghostly angst about them. Such pitch relationships can be demonstrated to typify many of Ives’s harmonic structures, and can be found, too, in Washington’s Birthday. Common to some of Ives’s other works of the time, many of the melodic lines feature increasingly wide leaps between notes, such as he would develop fully in the Universe Symphony. Weaving seamlessly in and out of both tonality and atonality, the music has an almost dreamlike quality.

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line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

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115%”>In Ives’s description of this piece, the people of the town gather in the early morning to collect flowers to decorate the soldiers’ graves. The generally somber mood of the people can be felt, even overtones of near anger at times—partly reflecting of old tensions going into the Civil War, since the lives of many close relatives and friends were lost in what most would have considered an avoidable conflict. As the people of the town assemble, they are joined in procession by horses and carriages, veterans, army members, the town band, even the fire engine company with its bells gently ringing, to the cemetery, the solemn sounds of Adeste Fideles accompanying them. The graves are decorated. George Ives plays Taps and leads the assembled gathering with the hymn, Nearer, My God to Thee, before the band strikes up a rousing march, and the people proceed back to town; in a “fast forward,” the evening encroaches.

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mso-text-raise:-1.0pt”>·    The quiet opening represents daybreak. It has been suggested that the muted violins play combined fragments of Taps and Nearer, My God to Thee, hauntingly changed into a ghostly premonition of the decoration service; more likely, though, it is Adeste Fideles.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black;position:relative;top:1.0pt;
mso-text-raise:-1.0pt”>·    The English horn states the principal theme of the first part of the piece (based on Dies Irae), as the violin lines seems to float upwards, answering in response in a short dialog with the French horns and oboe, followed by numerous restatements and variations; in fact, a harmonic code can be traced, in which the various keys in which it appears over the first part of the piece are balanced precisely by the sustained tones at the beginning of the piece—to complete an aggregate of all twelve pitches of the octave.

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Symbol;color:black”>·    An anxious rush and surge in the music surely represents one of the moments of tension amongst those looking back with some bitterness; the writing features a fragment of Lambeth, the hymn that Ives referred to that, oddly, has been believed absent in most analyses.

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Symbol;color:black”>·    With the music subsiding in wistful sighs, Dies Irae can be heard again in the strings, followed by a glimpse of Marching through Georgia in the horn, followed by the flute, oboe, and even a brief hint of Massa’s in de Cold Ground in the bassoon (then the violins); lightly ringing high bells represent the fire engine company that joins with the people for the march to the cemetery.

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Symbol;color:black;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:-1.0pt”>·    A suddenly more militaristic, rhythmic and strident passage interrupts; it is heavy with piercing shrillness and stark angst, and takes the pickups from Taps as the motif.

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Symbol;color:black;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:-1.0pt”>·    With deathly, even sickening sighs in the upper strings, shuddering in the lower strings accompanies the eerie ringing of the fire engine company bells amidst the procession to the gravesides.

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Symbol;color:black”>·    The slow march commences to Ives’s creatively modified Adeste Fideles (presumably what remains of the Slow March); the “walking” pizzicato (plucked) bass line, is one of the moments reminiscent of Delius.

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Symbol;color:black;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:-1.0pt”>·    In a connecting passage, pulsing notes in the strings hint of the Fate Motif, in a treatment similar to that in the third movement of the Second Symphony; however, technically, it is a wistful allusion to Tenting in the Old Campground, which leads to a quote from The Battle Cry of Freedom in the first violins—written, all too typically, in an entirely unexpected setting. The strings round out the passage with an extension of Adeste Fideles, amidst a further shuddering in the lower strings; the graveyard (surely Wooster Cemetery in Danbury) is in sight.

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Symbol;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:-1.0pt”>·    In one of Ives’s most magical and poignantly moving moments, a distant trumpet plays Taps, while a choir of violins plays Nearer, My God to Thee, quietly shimmering in the background; it is surprisingly matched in tonality if not harmony.

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Symbol;color:black;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:-1.0pt”>·    Then—the heavy footsteps of the band (reminiscent of “piano drumming”) approach to lead the people back into town; in a burst of exuberance, the Second Regiment Connecticut National Guard March (David Wallis Reeves, and one of Ives’s personal favorites), pierces the solemnity with all the nineteenth century frills typical of actual practice at the time, if modified according to Ives’s polytonal whims—even something resembling Reveille in the upper woodwinds—though, not quite!

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black”>·    Underneath the bellowing marching band, a lone viola and gentle bells continue to play Taps, not exactly shadow counterpoint, surely their presence is more for its symbolism than a realistic expectation of being heard.

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115%”>Unfortunately, the exhilaration of Reeves’s march setting is so great that many of these details tend to become obscured, unless the performers pay special attention to them, especially the carefully configured polytonal parts. Ives, far from oblivious to practical considerations of orchestration, as some have suggested, was keenly aware of balance problems and the need for separate and placement of the  instruments in performance. Though advances in technology have made things possible now in ways that Ives surely would have embraced, many of the sounds he had in mind here could have benefitted from more care than in most readings. Perhaps, most can be attained even without any special means, other than awareness. Thus, rather than blame Ives’s orchestration, special heed should be paid to the unique requirements of each piece; for him, easy music making was no more desirable than easy listening; see again comments in Chapter 3.

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Symbol;color:black;position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:-1.0pt”>·    With a final victorious cadence, the procession has arrived back in the town and the somber mood of the day returns, the music reflective once more with the quiet sounds that began the day; it is now evening, and time for the town people to renew their spirits for a better future.

 

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115%”>Serving as a perpetual reminder of Ives’s legacy and heritage, Decoration Day is a somber work, to be sure, and one of those that demonstrates characteristics often considered not part of his lexicon. However, such soundscapes do not dominate Ives’s music, though can be found at every level of his output.

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The Fourth of July


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line-height:115%”>Conceived without need for elaborate justification or intellectual fanfare, The Fourth of July was supposed to invoke the preparations, build-up, and celebration of the annual holiday—a rip-roaring good time to be had by all! Indeed, Ives wrote it discarding most practical considerations (even by his standards!), believing that it might not even be playable at all.

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115%”>A depiction of general revelry, common then as it is today whenever there is an excuse to celebrate, rather than conceived as high art, this was precisely Ives’s intention, though the effect
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mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Using
11.0pt;line-height:115%”> every trick in his book to achieve the result he had in mind resulted in about six
115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> minutes of some of the most tangled orchestral writing ever put on a page of manuscript. One can almost feel the multitudes of people pouring into the town square for the parade and fireworks, and see the street musicians,
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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>an accidental explosion, gunfire, brawls, rowdy drunkards, even baseball (!), in short, the
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>sheer pandemonium of a crowd’s frenzy and celebration, and the firework display
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>culminating in the traditional last ascent of the rocket over the church steeple.
11.0pt;line-height:115%”>One senses being “right there” amongst the crowd, amidst the excitement, as the brilliant lights and trails of smoke light up the sky.

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115%”>This particular holiday, though the habitual favorite of the young, was quite a dangerous time in the nineteenth century. With little supervision of any kind, and unreliable and unregulated fireworks, the injuries and accidents were often horrifying. Ives included realistic portrayals of the accidental explosion, gunfire, even Town Hall being set afire. He did not shy away from realistically painting the not-always-universally-happy scene that he must have witnessed numerous times, his recollections always his guide.

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115%”>Written somewhere in the first part of the second decade of the twentieth century, its precise date has been difficult to determine. However, it is likely the piece was laid out in some form prior to 1913; it is a large-scale realization of most of the complex textures of most of Ives’s earlier innovative methodologies, including one from 1904 that depicted an explosion on the boat General Slocum, and a piece of the same name.4 To achieve the astonishing effects he had in mind required considerable thought and planning; Ives wanted even to imitate the enthusiastic, yet terrible performance of the town band—all out of tune, full of wrong notes, and coming apart at the seems with regularity; he achieved his aims with written shifts of synchronization within the predominant speed, as well as by the imprecisions of octaves, mix-ups of the tune(s), and carefully contrived dynamics from note to note to create the correct emphases in the blended simulation.

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115%”>The number of radical techniques used in the short time frame is remarkable by any standards; specifically, however:

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Melody and Harmony

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line-height:115%”>Ives was enamored of the tune, Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean, over his entire life; in The Fourth of July, he placed elements of it throughout the texture. Surrounded and frequently accompanied by a multitude of other melodic fragments, Columbia remains predominant, however, and is heard in its entirety near the high point of the piece—once again, just as in the Second Symphony, it is one of few melodies Ives would ever quote complete—and here, within an advanced evolution of cumulative form.

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115%”>Ives built some of the harmonies from intervals outlined by the Columbia melody; strongly characteristic pitches at, and within, the melody’s extremes are spaced at intervals a fourth or fifth apart, (actually, both of these intervals really are just inversions of each other). Using these distinctive tones, amongst other harmony, Ives co-opted the same chords he had explored many years before in works such as The Cage (which he cited as the source), and Central Park in the Dark—stacking these intervals to create new chords. Furthermore, such systemized methodologies reveal the successful incorporation of important innovations from his early years within large works. However, even these harmonies were insufficient for Ives’s aims; The Fourth of July features many other chord structures, too, even tone clusters (notes piled upon one another without spaces in between), and aleatory (leaving the choices of notes up to the performer).

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Tonality

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line-height:115%”>In a new way of organizing successions of tones into melodic and other lines, The Fourth of July contains cyclic manipulations of the 12-tone rows Ives had developed during his early years—a methodology, the roots of which, can be traced back further to his father’s musical philosophies, again, as detailed in his discussions featuring integer notation in his “Essay on Music Theory.” Normally associated with Arnold Schönberg and his formal adoption in 1921 of the advanced applications in dodecaphony, the twelve possible named pitches are arranged successively with none repeated, before being subjected to an array of organizational developments that continue to reflect the order established at the start. Ives did not subscribe to its adoption as the sole basis for a composition, however, as his comments on the score of Majority, make clear, dating from about the same time as The Fourth of July (see, too, Chapter 11).

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Rhythm

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line-height:115%”>The composition also features the applications of many of Ives’s earlier rhythmic innovations, including multiple mixed rhythmic divisions, multiple speeds, seemingly unrelated complex rhythmic contours, even separations of the alignments of rhythm and bar lines. The latter involved the use of mixed parallel meters (rhythmic groupings), enabling the ensemble to fall out of synchronization as if by accident. Rhythmically-oriented cyclical elements are utilized in various ways, too, including in opposing motion within sliding (glissando) tone clusters, by the strings at the climax of the piece. Rhythmically, the constantly changing, multiple and varied textures are as striking as is the visual nature of the sounds themselves, the intentions, at least, easy to grasp in this orchestral tour de force.

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line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The piece opens, setting a scene of the approaching dusk; a quiet tone cluster in the lower strings provides a muted backdrop to a fragment of Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean in the first violins (rendered almost unrecognizable as belonging to the famous tune). Soon, it is joined by the second violins with a quiet Columbia-derived “bugle” call; gentle stirring informs the listener that The Fourth of July will not be a relaxing experience.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Declamatory statements in the basses—ominously eager in their anticipation—and based again on Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean, are followed by both harmonic intensity and nervous motion in the upper violins. A further hint of Columbia in the low trombone punctuates slow chords in the lower strings.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A flurry of activity (in a highly systematically organized musical gesture) follows in the strings and woodwinds, striking in its use of contrary motion and atonal linearity; a militaristic hint (of a bugle call?) in the piccolo is, in fact, a cuckoo—apparently as keenly aware of all that is coming in the annual festival as its participants.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The entire string section (plus tuba) builds upon rhythmically anticipatory harmonic material initiated by the basses, while flute and piccolo add more fragments of Columbia.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    With a further systematically organized skittering of notes in the strings, the woodwinds join the discourse, adding to the anticipatory writing. Snippets of material from Columbia are spread between the woodwinds and horn.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A tiny quote in the cellos from The Battle Cry of Freedom (perhaps hard to discern) anticipates a prominent Columbia-based passage in the flutes and piccolo, while a militaristic call is interjected by the clarinet; overlapping the end of the fragment from The Battle Cry, the trumpet plays a stirring quotation from Marching Through Georgia, set rhythmically off the beat.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A ringing, echoing, gunshot simulated across the orchestra interrupts any sense of remaining peace; it, too, was achieved by systematic organization of the intervals between groups of close pitches, as well as members of instrumental families.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Against conflicting jazzy rhythms in the woodwinds, aficionados of Ives’s songs will recognize a brief fragment from Old Home Day in the violins (Ives quoting Ives!); there are also hornpipe quotes, in the oboe, flutes and piccolo, a prominent quote from The Battle Hymn of the Republic in the strings, and another from Old Home Day—Ives officially dated this song at 1920—no doubt completing the fair copy for 114 Songs, though clearly, it was extant before The Fourth of July in order to be quoted here!

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The horns burst in with a reference to The Battle Cry of Freedom, developed into a cyclical, strongly rhythmic passage in the strings; it is joined, too, by Reveille in the horns, then trumpet.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The feeling of growing revelry continues, including a further fragment of Columbia, the Gem, interrupted by a brief allusion to Hail, Columbia in the bassoons and clarinet.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As the strings develop Old Home Day, a corps of fifes and drums is depicted marching down Main Street (at a faster speed than the rest of the orchestra), which morphs into a quotation from The girl I left behind.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A short quote from London Bridge is falling down is divided so subtly amongst the woodwinds and descending octaves that it might not be caught by the majority of listeners. An “accidental” firework explosion across the orchestra follows, the effect achieved by the use of 12-tone aggregates, serialistic rhythmic compressions, and dividing the texture into instrumental families, multiple complex rhythms, tone clusters in scales (strings), through a large spread of closely placed sustained tones that dissipates into a multitude of cascading, falling rhythms and pitches, like light flashes in the sky.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Seemingly undisturbed by the commotion, Old Home Day again appears in the violins, followed by Garryowen in the xylophone; generally disjoined writing simulates the gathering of the crowds. Excited children are everywhere, musicians practicing; many townsfolk have already “partied” beyond orderly behavior. Fragments of Columbia, the Gem are widespread, the percussion section shifts in and out of synchronization, and the xylophone takes St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning, the trumpet, Reveille. It sounds as if firecrackers are being let off randomly as the mob pours into the town square; the trombone can be heard practicing passages from Columbia, while a wavelike tone cluster in the strings (a repeating cycle featuring contrary motion between the upper and lower section) gradually gains in momentum, suggesting the crowd’s surge and excitement.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Developed from the 1903 Overture and March “1776,” the music is now at full tilt. The town band announces its arrival with possibly the worst rendition of Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean ever heard, all out of tune and lacking normal harmonic support—everyone wants to play the tune! Ives’s highly effective simulation includes ingenious pitch, rhythm, even volume displacements, and is further complicated by the sounds of another parade playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic (in the cornet and woodwinds, between them mixing up verse, chorus and rhythm). Other instruments play Katy Darling and Dixie (piccolo), Hello! Ma Baby (horns); Yankee Doodle (xylophone), ensuring complete pandemonium (the Town Hall is accidentally set ablaze!). Then, the big moment of the night has come: the grand finale of the firework display.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Created within the space of just five bars, the realistic portrayal of the fireworks required the most complex orchestral texture Ives had attempted to date, a terrifying sound scarcely surpassed, even today. Recalling musical figures utilized in the previous “accidental” explosion, 12-tone rows in the woodwinds were built from assemblages of opposing atonal three-note patterns (broken trichords) across multiple rhythmic divisions; the astounding rhythmic fragmentation of other punctuating entities, together with the strings’ massive glissando clusters, build to the frenzied climax of their wave cycle.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The launching of the rocket over the church steeple announces the conclusion of the evening’s celebration. Simulated by a final surge and hold in the orchestra, the cut-off signifies the apex of its trajectory; seven solo string players and one flute represent its fall amidst sputtering sparks. Petering out, the last spark is signified by a pizzicato note (with timpani) as the scene fades to black.

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Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day

 

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115%”>The full title (Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day) reflects the historic associations of the holiday with the Pilgrims. As the final and longest movement of the collection of pieces, compositionally, perhaps one might have expected Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day to be the most recent and advanced of the group, when, in fact, its primary composition came first in the collection. As the most conservative from a technical standpoint, it was also the movement that inspired the vision of a symphony comprised of music depicting colorful, seasonal festive days.

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115%”>Much of the material dates from Ives’s Yale days, starting out as music for a church service (Prelude and Postlude for a Thanksgiving Service) in 1897, when Ives was organist at Center Church, New Haven during his student years. What has survived of the organ music that provided the basis of the piece reveals, nevertheless, that Ives was actively writing in unconventional idioms and innovative techniques right under Parker’s nose; further, it is evidence that Ives was not too reticent to inflict a certain amount of modernity on his congregants, despite his protestations to the contrary! Either that, or they must have been more tolerant than one might have imagined.

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line-height:115%”>What is more significant about the early organ material, however, is the early appearance of some remarkable harmonic leanings that announce two keys together from the outset (C major and D minor), continuing apart and compounding their separate ways within the section, while remaining entirely unbeholden to conventional harmonic progressions. Even though Ives did not score the work in large format until 1932, he dated the composition itself to 1904, which, based on surviving manuscript pages and his stylistic language of the time, is entirely consistent. Clearly, it is a manifestation of his evolving language of the 1890s, with the mixing of conventional chords of different keys much in evidence, often between “choirs” of lower and higher instruments.

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line-height:115%”>Within a few years, Ives had progressed to entirely new chords built from intervals other than the conventional that often moved in parallel, although these, or melodies built from unlikely note combinations are barely present in Thanksgiving—again, entirely consistent with the period of the original organ works. Thus, this entirely satisfying and modernistic composition is differentiated from many later works by its melodious sustained textures and more ready accessibility.

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line-height:115%”>Because the final fair copy dates from as late as 1932, it serves, too, to refute those (notably, Stuart Feder) who have stated that Ives was incapable of such intellectually grueling activity at this stage of life. Appearing only two years after the “failure” of The Celestial Country, Thanksgiving and Forefathers Day appeared not long after the completion of the Second Symphony. In this sense, it makes a decided departure from the conventional idiom of the major works that preceded it, though it is built, however, on traditional three-part (A1-B-A2 ternary) form. However, the extensive development and reinvigoration of this simple structure in this piece might leave the casual listener completely unaware of any such form.

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line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Most of the “A
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” section is structured around portions and fragments of three hymns, two of which having old formal roots: Federal Street—so named after the address of the church that its composer, Henry K. Oliver, attended; Duke Street—so-named because composer John C. Hatton lived there; and prominent fragments of more revivalist-oriented The Shining Shore—another defining melody of 19th century Americana, by the iconic George F. Root. Gentle fragments of other hymns (Laban; Nettleton) are introduced occasionally as counter-lines; not easily caught in casual listening, their role is peripheral.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Thanksgiving commences with the strong, sturdy writing of the organ Postlude; the organist John Cornelius Griggs, who acted as a mentor figure to Ives during his years at Yale, compared its almost angular character to the ruggedly stark values of the Puritans. Motivically, a short rhythmic figure stands out throughout much of the fabric that features a large drop to the lower octave, and an immediate return to the original register. Representing the toils of the harvest, the strenuous polytonality and rhythmic rigor is immediately obvious, its primary thematic infusion including fragments of Federal Street. As the music proceeds, fragments of The Shining Shore can be heard in the low flutes, too, echoed by the trombones immediately and loudly.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A building “stinger” chord of mounting components announces increasingly strident string writing, as another prominent fragment of The Shining Shore in the trumpets, followed by another similar building chord in the brass (by chance, amazingly reminiscent of moments in John Williams’ iconic score to the 1977 movie Star Wars!) introduces a premonition by the violins of Federal Street in the low strings, echoed shortly thereafter by the horns, and again, the violins.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Amidst the complex harmonic language, the identity of Federal Street shifts as the music gains power and momentum, leading to a prominent series of four descending detached chords in the orchestra that can be traced to the later part of Duke Street. The descending figure is further exploited in smooth lines as the music builds around the first definitive announcement of Duke Street in the low brass. Subtle references to both Federal Street and Duke Street continue in the lower part of the orchestra.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    With the strings gaining speed and syncopated rhythmic energy, and further reinforcement in the woodwinds, the trumpets burst in with a derivation of Duke Street; the music builds to an increasingly tangled and strident climax, amidst much syncopation and counter lines—this section is the scything action that Ives had alluded to.5

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Squarely landing on a strong segment built on the opening material, the music settles down into a quiet transitional portion that is highly reminiscent of Central Park in the Dark, (perhaps unsurprisingly, since it would follow in just a couple of years). Working its way downward, the section ends with a brief build in the cellos and basses that are strangely predictive of the opening of the Fourth Symphony many years later.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    From here, the music enters the transition to the “B” section, drawing the listener in with a dreamlike setting and an undisguised statement of The Shining Shore in alternating dialog between the oboe and flute; it is set amidst diametrically opposed harmonic accompaniment against the melody that is as restless as it is reassuring. The section reaches a pause, as one’s awareness grows of a superimposed, faintly “glowing” string chord in another tonality—like something looming out of an evening mist. It is one of the work’s most haunting moments.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The chord emerges into a full statement of The Shining Shore in the upper violins (such full quotes being a rarity in Ives’s music) in a ravishing, but simple setting. Ives gave the “B” section a tonal distinction: it is in just one key. The Shining Shore also comprises the thematic foundation of the section, also having links—though not as close as in the “A1” section—to another fragmentary sketch page of the Postlude. The second part of the melody is played again in dialog between the flute and oboe, while underneath, in the cellos, an alluring trace remains of Dudley Buck’s influence, his “barbershop quarter” style of close-voiced chromatic writing manifested in a descending and ascending harmonic line.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As the impetus quickly picks up, the hymn is miraculously transformed into a rhythmic and festive variant. Though clearly recognizable, the order of the notes is reversed (appearing in retrograde) into a lively, “classic” American hoedown—in character more associated with the music of another composer of the newer school, Aaron Copland, and especially reminiscent of his own Appalachian Spring that emanated some four decades later! Frequently wrongly identified as the harvesting section to which Ives had alluded,6 independent hymn-based lines buried in the oboe parts have been described erroneously also as shadow lines, when, in fact, they are not “spun off” the dominant lines at all—as would be the case with such entities.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The “B” section winds down in much the way it began, though it is tinged now with something of the same nostalgic sound that defines the Third Symphony—a work that Ives dated in its original form to precisely the same date: 1904. If one accepts the reliability of Ives’s own dates for the primary composition (1904) for Thanksgiving, as well as the Third Symphony—something that revisionist scholarship cannot allow—finding a style so obviously related to the period in which Ives placed them is not at all surprising.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The return to “A” (A2) material—rather than a restatement of the original “A1” section—is marked by a decided change from its former identity, although the original rhythmic motif that characterized so much of the “A1” section it is present, as well as comparable fragments of Duke Street building in the lower voices, and the strident polytonality. Increasingly urgent and accented writing leads to some massive pounding chords that surge into the coda, and a near cumulative revelation of both primary “A” section hymns—Duke Street and Federal Street together.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The chorus and trumpets enter grandly with the melody of Duke Street, set against Federal Street in the lower instruments. A bell choir clangs in celebration, with strings and woodwinds reinforcing the sound by mimicking the pealing of church bells. Characteristically, the hymns’ identities are greatly affected by the uniqueness of Ives’s setting; of the two Hymns, Duke Street is predominant in the texture—a reversal of earlier sketching—and the most significant late departure from the various surviving earlier materials.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As the music recedes, elements of the accompaniment and melody remain, gradually falling away; clear polytonality, even more the avoidance of harmonic resolution becomes increasingly evident, the strings setting elements of the unresolved cadence and the bell peals polytonally against the fabric. Though the piece ends with an “amen” cadence, the last chord never arrives. As noted at the conclusion of the Third Symphony, Ives increasingly would conclude many of his compositions in this way for poignancy.

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line-height:115%”>Thanksgiving

line-height:115%”> falls at a time just before Ives’s frenetic period of composition; a perfect representation of his maturing musical language early in its ascent, the scale and richness of this work makes it an ideal finale for the Holidays Symphony, though it offers little hint that by the time all four movements of the symphony had formed, Ives was already leaving his Danbury days far behind.

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REFERENCES

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line-height:115%”>1.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Charles E. Ives, Memos, ed. John Kirkpatrick (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972), 94–106.

line-height:115%”>2.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Stuart Feder, Charles Ives: “My Father’s Song”, a Psychoanalytic Biography, (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1992), 240–242.

line-height:115%”>3.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Ives, Memos, 101–102.


normal”>4.
 Ibid., 104–106.

5. Ibid., 39.


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Op. cit., n.5.



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 115%”>CHAPTER 8


 115%”>The Songs


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text-indent:.5in;line-height:115%;mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:
none;text-autospace:none”>Ives’s songs—each one a microcosm of his expanding universe, as their vast array of styles offers a unique window into his musical and spiritual evolution—extend from the beginning to the time he stopped composing. Most of them, as would be expected, are not lengthy works, by default; however, as a virtual encyclopedic record of his creativity, many are reflected in other compositions; some acted as working studies for larger works, or excerpted from a larger work to be downsized into a song; others were reworked within other pieces.

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115%”>In 1922, the composer, able to function better following a health collapse (in 1918) from a condition that would plague him the rest of his life (diabetes), determined to try to address his musical anonymity. Assembling and publishing a large collection of his songs at his own expense, Ives distributed them far and wide. Although they were received mostly without comment, he would endure more than his share of callous rejection and sarcastic rebuke for his trouble. Nonetheless, the blanket sweep eventually was sure to snag the attention of a few receptive and kinder individuals.

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115%”>Clearly, Ives’s push to gain recognition and acceptance reflected his brush with mortality, and a keen awareness that fate could come knocking at his door again at any time; not inconsequentially, it had occurred at almost the same age his father died. Knowing that if he failed to organize his music, as well as update a handful of important works with still unrealized potential, his life’s work in music might be forgotten before it ever was noticed. Ives was in a position, financially, to do something about it. From a practical standpoint, the songs usually only required two performers, singer and pianist, so perhaps there was a real chance they would be performed. Over time, the plan worked, and the collection, 114 Songs, helped to introduce his music to the outside world.

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115%”>Despite growing fame and notoriety, even as late as 1940, Ives was still paying for his music to be put into print. The contract for the publication of two of his songs (overleaf) is interesting historically, in that the publisher (Arrow Music Press) had been formed as a non-profit organization dedicated to the music of American composers. It had been established by several of them, including Aaron Copland. Ives paid the princely sum of $66.14 for the privilege of having two songs from the 1920s put in print. The initial subject of the contract was a song for his adopted daughter, Edith, and her friend (Two Little Flowers); the other
115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>(
normal”>The Greatest Man
) was added onto the contract in Harmony
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mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>s hand, having been worked into the deal (it happens to be the writer’s personal favorite). Both songs are distinctly personal, though not groundbreaking. The first reveals, touchingly, the strong bonds between his adopted daughter, Edith, and himself; the second clearly is symbolic of the lingering emotional bond Ives felt for his father. However, both came late in his output, and from a technical point of view have reverted to much more familiar, even near-conventional territory of at least 20 years before.

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115%”>Ives’s signature on the contract is replete with his characteristic “snake tracks,” his deteriorating physical condition now readily apparent:

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<Insert IMAGE – Arrow Music Press Song Contract>


115%”>Arrow Music Press Song Contract

From the author’s collection

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115%”>Although the new schools of writing in Europe gradually had conditioned American audiences to accept new sounds, and had met with some success, anyone as “provincial” as a American composer—even more a radical one—still was unlikely to be regarded as having much merit at home. Ives ran into further resistance because of his status as a non-professional composer; being an unknown quantity in the musical community at almost fifty years of age cannot have helped, either. Even though legitimately he could have made claim (he never did) to have been first to pioneer most of the new techniques, who would listen? Thus his compositional efforts usually were received with disinterest, callous dismissiveness, even outright condemnation and reprimand.

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115%”>It would take most of the 1920’s before it was clear that his outreach was bearing fruit, and a new chapter was being written in his life; Ives was taken seriously as a composer. Much of his future recognition stemmed from his concurrent efforts to promote the Concord Sonata and the accompanying writing Essays Before a Sonata (see Chapter 9), while the songs had to wait before attracting the interest of a few key people. In 1932, his compatriot, Aaron Copland, noticed them, and decided a group of Ives’s songs should be featured at the First Festival of Contemporary American Music at Yaddo (an artists’ community in Saratoga Springs, New York), which Copland largely had organized.

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115%”>Suddenly, a ray of hope began to shine where none had before. With the advent of the American avant-garde, a group of radical composers were coming of age.
"Times New Roman"”> After many years of being left out in the cold, Ives would at last find acceptance from a new, more open-minded generation eager to challenge the status quo; they became his champion, and Ives the “Father of American Music.” Despite a few reservations Ives held about what lay behind the culture of many of its standard bearers (that “bohemian” element), which did to a large degree reflect much of what Ives thought detrimental in society, he would finally know the embrace of kindred spirits; p
115%”>erhaps they were not so bad, after all.

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115%”>Although Ives’s songs cover a similar cross-section of development as his other works, they stand apart in a number of ways:

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Usually succinct works, the majority, are not built in traditional verse and chorus structures, sometimes taking the form of single complete thoughts in an evolving line.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Featuring only piano and voice (with one or two exceptions), there are limits to the prospects for polyphonic and polytonal language, as well as the complex rhythmic elements of Ives’s larger-scale works (some of which require coordination by up to three conductors). Multiple part layering is limited, not only because of the resources, but also so the performers can stay synchronized. However, the frequent use of unusual divisions of the beat in the songs, independently between voice and piano, often simulate such textures, and lead to a greater understanding of the larger scale works, too.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Tonally, the piano also is no less limited than the voice in the range of sounds that is possible. Similarly, the non-sustaining character of piano restricts many of the techniques Ives was able to employ elsewhere. In this sense, the combination with voice was invaluable, and one can be sure that singing and playing formed a major part of Ives’s working methods. Again, it is clear he was not nearly so denied the opportunity to hear his music physically as some commentators have proposed.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As in most respects of his writing, Ives explored new directions without necessarily jettisoning the old; in this regard he maintained a largely traditional approach in writing for the instrument.1 (See also Chapter 3: Links to other music.) Because Ives’s opportunities for hearing his music during his busiest creative years were confined mostly to playing the piano and singing, it is not surprising that his songs are such a treasure trove—they are, perhaps, more directly representative of his wider output than those by any other composer.

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115%”>Further, because pianistic textures feature techniques that evolved over centuries, notational characteristics specific to the piano do not necessarily translate to other instruments. To simulate these sounds, historically, composers—especially those who were pianists, too—found ways to substitute types of writing for some of those instrumental qualities the piano lacks. In this way, taking advantage of special techniques unique to the piano, Ives also benefitted from his background as a pianist; some of the songs sound almost orchestral.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The songs resemble in some ways the early innovative compositions as distilled musical cameos.

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115%”>From his output of approximately two hundred, in most commentaries, the better-known and lengthier songs have been reviewed to the exclusion of the lesser-known little gems; concentrating mostly on the latter, the timeline is the most important consideration. The songs selected for examination in this chapter are sequenced according to their time of composition, from earlier to later.


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12.0pt;line-height:115%”>Selected Songs through Ives’s most productive years

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>In the first published collection
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115%”>(114 Songs) Ives included some early songs that he had grown to consider unworthy of attention, referring to them as examples of what not to write! It is hard to know if he was serious, and certainly he had a delightfully self-deprecating sense of humor; indeed those few songs in question are well beneath his artistic potential. Songs from Ives’s earlier years are interesting to hear, if not indicative in any way of what was lurking just over his musical horizon. Emanating for his earliest years as a composer, they are sentimental and largely predictable, likely written mostly “for hire” at various social occasions, or even for his friends; it is inconceivable that Ives would have composed these as serious representations of his work. The question remains why he chose to include them in his collection anyway, having fundamentally disowned them! One such song, When Stars are in the Quiet Skies (below), seems lucky not to have been counted amongst them.

 

 


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Image by Tim Sprinkle

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>T
115%”>he seemingly fitting title of a poem begins the selection; this song apparently dates from Ives’s Yale days, and was reworked at the turn of the century. Although a simple and utterly conventional song, there are independent melodic moving notes melodic in the piano part that break up what otherwise soon would become monotonous, if the predictable broken chord accompaniment at the outset had been maintained for long. By omitting the third and last stanzas (out of six), Ives ended the song with the word “dream”; with an alternate ending that extends the vocal line to finish on the fifth note of the key, he provided a less final, more ethereal exit.

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115%”>Beyond the simple setting of religious devotion, there is possible hidden meaning in the choice of words. Though more likely to be found in later examples of Ives’s work, the references to heavenly things, dreams and guiding stars here are striking indicators of the cosmic realm that increasingly stakes its claim in Ives’s thoughts. Regardless, the song is steeped in the idiomatic language of late Victorian romanticism, as is the continued impact of Dudley Buck’s overt close chromaticism.

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margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>When stars are in the quiet skies,

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>Then most I pine for thee; (Ives substituted the word ‘long’ for ‘pine’)

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>Bend on me then thy tender eyes

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>As stars look on the sea. (Ives added “down upon the peaceful” after “look”)

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>For thoughts, like waves that glide by night,

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>Are stillest when they shine;

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>Mine earthly love lies hush'd in light (Ives changed “mine earthly love” to “All my love”)

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>Beneath the heaven of thine.

 

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>There is an hour when ugh slumber fairest glide;

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>And in that mystic hour it seems

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>Thou should’st be by my side. (Ives substituted “ever, ever” for by”)

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>My thoughts of thee too sacred are

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>For daylight's common beam,

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>I can but know thee as my star,

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>My angel and my dream.

margin-left:.25in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>(Ives changed the wording to “my guiding star, my angel and my dream.”)
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 115%”>From “Amphion”

line-height:115%”>Dating from a similar period as the previous example (1895–1896), it has been proposed that this song was written for Parker’s class—compelling evidence that Ives indeed was studying with Parker before his junior year, and the full four years that Ives claimed—challenged in revisionism in order to bolster the case to discredit his reputation (see Appendix 1). As such, the song rightly should be expected to conform to the genteel style of the language of his teacher; indeed, it does. Ives selected just eight lines from Tennyson’s poem by for his song.

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line-height:115%”>The mountain stirr’d its bushy crown,

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line-height:115%”>Young ashes pirouetted down

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line-height:115%”>Coquetting with young beeches; (Ives repeated “Coquetting with young beeches.”)

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line-height:115%”>And shepherds from the mountain-eaves

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line-height:115%”>Look’d down, half-pleased, half-frighten’d,

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line-height:115%”>As dash’d about the drunken leaves (Ives inserted “The sunshine lighten’d,”)

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line-height:115%”>The random sunshine lighten’d.

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115%”>With this song, Ives had written another largely conventional late Victorian song, using the popular musical language of the day; there are a few wrinkles, however, that suggest he had much more waiting in the wings, because the song hints at cyclical and palindromic form, which does portend of things to come. The song begins with an unusual flourish in the piano, followed by a simple introductory passage. When the voice enters, its chromatic descent, followed closely by harmonies in the piano, is again reminiscent of the “barbershop quartet” harmonic style associated with Buck; one would think that Parker would not have approved, although the song apparently survived.

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115%”>Ives echoed the word “coquetting,” with a rooster-like figure in the piano, which in another composer’s work might seem strangely out of character. The song continues, however, in the vein in which it began until near the end. Here, the piano (ascending) moves dramatically in the opposite direction to the voice, finishing the song with another flourish as it began, the last two repeating notes (on the tonic pitch of the key) in the vocal part dividing the final word into corresponding syllables (“light-en’d”).

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 normal”>Tarrant Moss

line-height:115%”>Ives would pen this remarkable little song in 1902–1903, with the words taken from the first and last stanzas of the poem by Rudyard Kipling. At the time 114 Songs was published Ives did not yet have permission to use the poem (it was still protected by copyright), and so all he could do was quote the first few words! Seeming conventional enough, a closer examination reveals that, melodically and harmonically, it is decidedly radical. Jumping through rhythmic irregularities from one key center to another, ultimately mixing more than one, it seems Ives still was not sure that vocalists could manage the challenge, so he all but doubled the line in the piano part.

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115%”>The vocal line—strangely angular in contour—is accompanied by a bold and rhythmically metrically chordal piano part that remains largely grounded in, or close to, the opening key of C Major in the bass line. Despite the unlikely harmonic incongruities, the modern sound was achieved without making use of experimental chord structures overall, notwithstanding the frequent omissions of thirds, as well as the tonally undermining final polychord. Thus, it is left to a handful of “foreign” notes to add the altogether avant-garde ring. In the song’s entirety, just how many “foreign” notes are there? A mere seventeen.

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margin-left:9.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>I closed and drew for my love's sake

margin-left:9.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>That now is false to me,

margin-left:9.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>And I slew the Reiver of Tarrant Moss

margin-left:9.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>And set Dumeny free.

margin-left:9.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>And ever they give me gold and praise   <Insert IMAGE –
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>

margin-left:9.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>And ever I mourn my loss—                                                                           Kipling {{PD-Art}}

margin-left:9.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>For I struck the blow for my false love's sake

margin-left:9.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>And not for the Men of the Moss!  
 line-height:115%”>       (Kipling)

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115%”>The vocal line closely follows the natural rhythm of the words, the staccato character of the last line of the poem concluding it abruptly, and seeming to imply the shock of the sudden and humbling reality experienced by the raconteur. Overall, musically, the song is somewhat startling, despite its deceptively simple appearance on the page.

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 normal”>Hymn

line-height:115%”>For this song, Ives arranged Largo Cantabile, from A Set of Three Short Pieces, for string quartet, bass and piano, a composition dated 1904 by Ives. Using words from the eighteenth century hymn by Gerhardt Tersteegen, and a melodic quote from More love to thee, and later, Olivet, in an expansive vein, rich harmonic breadth, the music is built around unconventional harmony. A few rhythmically irregular bars build asymmetrically mid-song, falling back to near symmetry and harmonic resolution towards the end.

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115%”>Characterized by flowing, ascending broken chords in waves of up-and-down motion, the piano part alternates between a yet to be clarified F tonality and F# Major. True to its title (Hymn), the song utilizes a limited number of chords, in this instance of an unconventional nature and non-determinate key; by subtly altering them throughout its length, Ives suggested many diffuse tonalities, and with the exception of the final chord, never confirmed.

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Thou hidden love of God,

Whose height, whose depth,

Unfathomed, no man knows,

I see from far

Thy beauteous light;

Inly I sigh for Thy repose.

My heart is pained,

Nor can it be at rest till it find rest in Thee.         

(Gerhardt Tersteegen)

 

<Insert Image - Hymn>

NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

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115%”>Reaching the word “see,” the piano briefly holds a chordal flourish, followed by repeated words in the voice, “thy beauteous light.” Broken ascending motion based on the opening chord suggests a resolution from F# Major to the C# Major. The musical high point over, an increasing transparency and a clearer tonality of F Major begins to emerge as the waveform returns. With the word, “rest,” the music holds again, as the song winds down to the tonality that began it, and finally, an unmistakable fragment of Olivet. But now, as A# drops to A, the “third” of F7 finally confirmed.

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115%”>Compounding waves in the piano, now alone, lead to the mystery tonic key of B flat Major; Dudley Buck’s chromaticism has taken on entirely new ground. Again Ives’s choice of material, with its references to light and thoughts of Heaven, is significant. It is hardly surprising that Emerson considered the text of this hymn the ultimate in expression—no less that Ives chose it; even as early as 1904, Emerson’s Transcendentalism was central in his consciousness.

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 normal”>The Cage

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115%”>Ives made a startling break with the past in this short, but remarkable song. Written in 1906, it falls precisely into the latter period of Ives’s most radical innovations. The words are few, hardly poetry (they were by Ives himself), and merely describe the animal’s aimless pacing between mealtimes; a child observing posed the philosophical question whether the endless cycle reflected life itself!

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11.0pt;line-height:115%”>The monotonous, hopeless pacing of the caged leopard is simulated both by harmonic and melodic innovation. An evolving cycle of chords is built from the unconventional interval of fourths—in which the spaces between notes are further apart than in conventional chords. Representing the leopard
mso-ansi-language:FR”>’s aimless existence, musicologist Philip Lambert observed that these cyclic chord progressions follow a
line-height:115%;mso-ansi-language:IT”>circular
pattern, amongst other mathematically encoded links.2 Lambert termed the culminating chord of each sequence a “meal” chord, when the leopard pauses for food; as such, it is differently structured, with no obvious relationship to the others (although there is a carefully hidden relationship), and evolves through greater tension with each cycle.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:
none;text-autospace:none”>After repeating the primary harmonic cycle—in which the inertia pushes towards the meal chord—the singer enters with a monotonous line; each phrase is built entirely of whole-step movements and rhythmically even increments, to simulate the leopard’s pacing. The piano develops the harmonic cycle, but now as it approaches the “meal” chord, the newly transposed cycle slows instead, inverted into yet wider intervals. Rhythmically, neither part has anything in common, but they are entirely complimentary, the vocal tones lying within the coincident chords. By the time the song concludes, the word, “CAGE” has been spelled by prominent “outside” chord tones. In the small orchestra version, soft drum tones further represent the leopard’s footsteps, though seeming more to imply its heartbeat.

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 normal”>Watchman

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Watchman, tell us of the night,

What its signs of promise are.

Traveler, o’er yon mountain’s height,

See that glory beaming star.

Watchman, does its beauteous ray

Aught of joy or hope foretell?

Traveler, yes—it brings the day,

Promised day of Israel.   
 line-height:115%”>(John Bowring)

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<Insert IMAGE - Watchman>

margin-left:1.0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
line-height:115%;tab-stops:391.5pt”>
115%”>NASA, H.E. Bond and E. Nelan (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.); M. Barstow and M. Burleigh (University of Leicester, U.K.); and J.B. Holberg (University of Arizona)

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none;text-autospace:none”>As in so much of Ives’s music, this short song provides a link between two other works. Revealing more about Ives’s period of explosive innovation, its origins (unexplained) apparently date to 1908 and before. The material was reworked into the First Violin Sonata of 1914; this song, Watchman, in 1913 (!), from that work into the Prelude of the Fourth Symphony in 1910-1911 (!!). Despite the confusion of retrograde dating through this unlikely timeline, the material is original, nevertheless, to one of them, and
11.0pt;line-height:115%”> Ives claimed that the song’s origins were with the sonata. Adding further to the confusion, in his listings, Ives connected the song to the Second Violin Sonata; however, the numbered titles of the violin sonatas have been updated in reference to an earlier work that shares some of the material and is now known as the Pre-First Violin Sonata, reconciling at least this part of the muddle.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The significance, however, of this song is that Ives would add the words of the hymn’s first verse that were absent in the sonata, creating an aura that seems worlds apart. Seen in the symphony, too, this text (which Ives expanded slightly at the end) brings clearly to mind the otherworldly vision that is finally fully revealed in the Prelude of his symphony—the course of evolution of this one element reflecting how the idea grew with each step—pointing to the sonata, indeed, as the first development of the original material, and the symphony, apparently, the last.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The song opens with a short piano introduction, taken directly from its context within the third movement of the sonata. A fast descending three-note figure slows as the accompanying upper line emerges in contrary motion to the melody. The “Watchman” melody itself appears as something of a surprise, with regular accompanimental pacing and near-conventional harmonies. Though seeming to pose as a conventional setting, the harmonies are remarkable and unexpected, nevertheless. Because of the tonality of the primary melodic line is centered in D major, the harmony normally would reflect it; instead is appears in the relative minor key—B minor—that shares the same pitches, though with rooted 1-1/2 steps lower. Ives tied the tonal center, thus, to both. However, although the bass line falls one third below expectation, the gravity of the “relative” higher major key remains predominant, for two reasons:

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margin-left:.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
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position:relative;top:1.0pt;mso-text-raise:-1.0pt”>1)    The natural key center of the melody itself in in D major.

margin-left:.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
text-indent:-.25in;line-height:115%;mso-list:l41 level1 lfo40”>2)    The tonic of the melody is placed high in the harmony
11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>; appearing in conjunction with the seventh degree of the major key
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>(C#, the “leading tone,” half a step below the tonic), the listener is led also to the major key (D).

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 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Although there are obvious ways to explain the tonality as a true minor harmony, as well as its relationship to the melody, it is the way Ives set it up causes one’s perceptions to be kept constantly off balance. On the page, the minor key harmony is easy to see; it is just not heard that way. Continuing to “toy” with one’s expectations and perceptions—even briefly confirming the major key—the song progresses amidst some striking rhythmic, harmonic and pianistic effects that carry the piano far higher than the vocal line to create a colorful dissonance upon setting the words, “glory beaming star.” Only as the song concludes does the instinctive D tonality finally settle, in a profoundly telling descending passage that contrasts with the ascending vocal line. It is as if Ives is dreaming in space; likely he was.

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 115%”>The Indians

line-height:115%”>Written in 1912 and arranged in 1921 for inclusion in 114 Songs as an elegy to a people left to despair, it was one of the seven originally selected by Copland to be performed at his festival at Yaddo in 1932, and garnered the first real acclaim for Ives’s song collection after more than a decade withering on the vine. The vocal part is built mostly from notes of a pentatonic scale (corresponding relatively to the black keys on a piano) to symbolize the music of Native American tribes. Though demonstrating a remarkable awareness of idiomatic indigenous culture for that time, it is not surprising from someone so attuned to social issues.

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line-height:115%”>                Alas for them! - their day is o’er,

line-height:115%”>                     Their fires are out from hill and shore;

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115%”>           No more for them the wild deer bounds;

line-height:115%”>    The plough is on their hunting grounds;

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115%”>                The pale man’s axe rings through their woods;

                                          The pale man’s sail skims o’er their floods;

                                                                  Their pleasant springs are dry;

                                                      Their children, look! by power oppressed,

                                                 Beyond the mountains of the west

                                        Their children go to die!

                                                (Charles Sprague)

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text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The piano part is built on a two-bar segment that expands and contracts with the text, the chords being of dominant quality (harmonically), and thus resolutions to new key centers normally would be expected. Instead, both dominant chords and their tones of resolution move in parallel, each dominant chord answering itself with the tone of resolution in the top voice.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%;color:windowtext”>Remarkable, too, mid-song, is the use of simulated parallel speeds between the piano and singer. Although the more complex works for large ensembles often require more than one conductor—because of the need to maintain coordination between multiple instrumentalists—the possible relationships between just two performers are fewer; Ives notated them with separate combinations of the rhythmic common denominator, and thus, without resorting to writing in actual different speeds. The effect was attained by dividing successions of the common larger rhythmic pulse, in which divisions in one line occupy the same time as different divisions in the other. However, this is an oversimplification, since Ives changed the
normal”>meter
(number of beats per bar) regularly, too, often by uneven numbers!

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Regardless, both are comprehended as different speeds. Dividing one beat into equal subdivisions into groups of four and three, and
normal”>accenting
just the first note of each subdivided group, the total subdivisions passing before the accented notes coincide again will be twenty-four—effectively simulating six full beats in one speed and eight in the other; as such, the subdivisions allow for coordination between performers. However, Ives complicated the matter yet further; while maintaining even metric divisions of the beat in the vocal line, he phrased them irregularly in one, two, or three notes at a time, to create a free, unpredictably tangled rhythmic texture. The independence of elements achieved is more closely aligned with his later symphonic essays than the relatively more limited medium of piano and voice.

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normal”>Like a Sick Eagle

line-height:115%”>In one of Ives’s most definitive miniatures, Like a Sick Eagle, likely emerged in 1909 as a piece of the same name. In any event, it seems that Ives set Keats’s words in the song version for voice and piano around 1913. Appearing in his published collection, 114 Songs, ultimately the instrumental version was incorporated into the
normal”>Set No. 1 for Chamber Orchestra
of 1915/16 amongst the movements. On the music in that version, Ives wrote Keats’s words to the poem above the melodic notes. In 114 Songs, he did not mention the sliding, quarter-tone effect between pitches that is a feature in the orchestral scoring, made possible because the part was written for violin. However, in a later song edition (Thirty-four Songs, 1933),
normal”>
the distinction was made, and instructions were made for the voice to do so, too. The piano obviously cannot accommodate the slides between notes in this version; however, because it doubles the moving eighth-notes in its inner middle line, the effect is accomplished efficiently by the “ghosting” of that line in the vocal part.

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115%”> 
11.0pt;line-height:115%”>The vocal writing, essentially moving chromatically by half-step increments, paints the weary anguish of the eagle; the piano right hand (upper line) moves in parallel with the voice, but by whole-steps instead, causing the lines alternately to separate or threaten to merge, causing the music to flex like an accordion with interesting harmonic consequences.

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line-height:115%”>          The spirit is too weak; mortality

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115%”>Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%”>And each imagined pinnacle and steep

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Of godlike hardship tells me I must die,

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Like a sick eagle looking towards the sky.      

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
 115%”>(Keats)

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 line-height:115%”>                                                                                                                               

line-height:115%”>                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>During most of the song, Ives chose to keep moving eighth notes constant in both the vocal line and the accompaniment, maintaining them essentially at a low volume. With no need for metric coordination points—as in the instrumental version—the effect of independent rhythmic groupings in the lines can be attained without the use of bar-lines, from the outset. In the piano, those in the left and right hand have been grouped respectively into individual phrasings, being different in each. The vocalist has further independent note groupings, though rhythmically, both the voice and piano coincide, note for note, in their commonly shared constant metrical divisions and speed—and related to the methodology outlined in the previous example,
normal”>The Indians—
effectively allowing continually evolving independence of the parts. An effort, thus, should be made to hear the music both horizontally, and vertically, in order to appreciate the intent; the constant variations of linear and harmonic interactions caused by the shifting relationships between the vocal line and the accompaniment are highly compelling.
line-height:115%”>                                                                                                                                                                                          

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>From the third line of the verse until the conclusion, a slight increase in volume and tension results in increasingly
normal”>syncopated
piano writing (rhythmically displaced from the beat), with continued development of the rhythmic motion. After the word, “God,” is highlighted with a wide leap in the vocal line and a startling broken chord in the piano, the song deflates as the eagle that can no longer fly looks “towards the sky.” The music “looks” up too, with a mildly ascending melodic line and the perceptively grief-stricken sounds of the accompanying chords.
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line-height:115%”>
normal”>So may it be! (The Rainbow)

line-height:115%”>It is now (1914), and already the date is overlapping the outskirts of the cosmic territory of the Universe Symphony. Originally scored in 1914 for voice, strings, flute, piano or harp, celeste and organ, Ives wrote So may it be! for his wife, Harmony, to celebrate her birthday in their new summer home in West Redding; it was a time of great joy in their lives.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>However, during that year Ives had reached forty years of age, and his own father’s untimely demise before he, himself, had reached his next decade must have weighed heavily and often on his mind, not to mention his own earlier brushes with illness. Thus, while happy with his life with Harmony, and his ascending business success and means, an increasingly reflective outlook, too, likely point to what was behind the choice of this poetic miniature by Wordsworth about the phases of life. Although dated 1914, Ives did not arrange it for voice and piano from the original instrumental version until putting his 114 Songs together in 1921, at which point he had turned 47—only two years shy of his father’s demise.

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line-height:115%”>My heart leaps up when I behold

line-height:115%”>A rainbow in the sky:

line-height:115%”>So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

line-height:115%”>So be it when I shall grow old,

line-height:115%”>Or let me die!

line-height:115%”>The Child is father of the Man;

line-height:115%”>I could wish my days to be

margin-left:.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
line-height:115%”>Bound each to each by natural piety.                            (Wordsworth)

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text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The song is divisible into main two parts; the first opens with the piano rushing towards the singer’s entrance. The optimistic words of youth, “My heart leaps up,” is represented with a vocal line initially built largely out of fourths, an interval Ives used also in the song to construct the harmony for moments of emphasis. With a flourish and wide arpeggiated chord in the piano, the singer’s words, “I behold a rainbow in the sky,” are set to an arching curve, as if to outline it. The vocal line continues, more or less in whole-step motion, the accompaniment built of two repeated segments of a pair of gentle broken chords culminating on one sustained higher—at the mid-point (and also the highest chord of the song)—structured from fourths, emphasizes the word, “man.” Signifying the shift into the mid-point of life, an abrupt change in character is matched by gentle descending chords, still built in fourths. Reflective words about growing old culminate with the word “die!,” as a further abrupt change takes place; now set optimistically to a hopeful sounding high chord of mixed tonalities (E augmented and B minor), it heralds the second part of the song.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>A precipitously descending and fading vocal part is accompanied by a uniquely Ivesian
color:windowtext”> setting based on the hymn
normal”>Serenity
, and a musical style colored by notes that belong outside the prevailing tonalities. The accompaniment features a slow upward arch every two bars, and musically it proceeds through D Major, E Major, and A flat Major, passing through neighboring chords to settle in conclusion in B minor, the uncertain confirmation of the tonality that is arranged to imply D Major, as in Watchman. Rhythmically, both the piano and voice, which have seemed utterly independent until now, only loosely coinciding, finally “walk” together, effectively in unity. Ives chose this moment when referring to father and child—surely a reflection of a yearning desire for his own child—as the song concludes at a state of peace he sought within himself.

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 normal”>September

line-height:115%”>This song from 1919, with a text by the early Italian poet, Folgore da San Giminiano, is surrounded on all sides by Ives’s greatest musical visions, the grandest of them being the Fourth Symphony, the Concord Sonata, and the Universe Symphony. It should not be surprising that parallels can be found with the advanced type of musical language Ives had been developing for years and employed within this song, too. As such, the piano writing is strongly reminiscent of the
normal”>Concord Sonata
, full of overlapping and compound cyclical structures that lie, too, at the heart of this song. The flourishes that characterize much of the piano part are, in fact, built from two primary motifs; in the song’s second portion, they can be found outlined across the larger phrase, dispersed at the extreme pitches of the vocal line’s contour. Unfortunately, such esoteric considerations—so endemic as they are to the musical design—will be hard for listeners to discern, their significance and purpose being to lend unity to the larger musical sound.

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inter-ideograph;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”><Insert IMAGE - September>

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inter-ideograph;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”> 

margin-left:1.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>And in September,

margin-left:1.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>Falcons, astors, merlins, sparrow-hawks;

margin-left:1.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>Decoy birds that lure game in flocks,;

margin-left:1.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>And hounds with bells;

margin-left:1.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>Crossbows shooting out of sight;

margin-left:1.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>Arblasts and javelins;

margin-left:1.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-justify:inter-ideograph;
line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>All birds the best to fly;

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line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>And each to each of you shall be lavish still in gifts;

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line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>And robbery find no gainsaying;

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line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>And if you meet with your travelers going by,

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line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>
line-height:115%”>Their purses from your purse’s flow shall fill;

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line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt 332.65pt”>
11.0pt;line-height:115%”>And avarice be the only outcast thing.

inter-ideograph;text-indent:1.5in;line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt”>(Folgore da San Giminiano)

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line-height:115%;tab-stops:4.25in 315.0pt 332.65pt”>
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text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The vocal line is built in whole tone scale-like segments (a structural feature often found in the concurrent Universe Symphony).3 The accompaniment consists of rhapsodic broken chords built largely of augmented intervals, expanding exponentially, and strongly suggestive of the flight of birds. With “crossbows…arblasts and javelins,” the texture fragments into repeating figures that further suggest the scattering of those flocks, their winged quest for safety represented by the widest of all the rhapsodic broken chords. As the right hand of the piano shadows the melody, adding supportive harmony between the words, “And each to each…“gainsaying,” the left hand plays a repeating flourish based on the opening of the song. It is here that the coded structure of the flourishes is contained within the vocal line. The emphatic nature of this section implies the poet’s admonition that it is incumbent on all to give something back, sternly underscored at the conclusion with: “And avarice be the only outcast thing!,” as the piano rises to a dramatic peak after the vocal line has concluded.

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line-height:115%”>
 normal”>Afterglow

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115%”>Written also in 1919, and setting a short poem by James Fenimore Cooper, Jr. (grandson of the famous novelist), this song is mystical in its distant thoughts. Ives had just survived his most serious illness (1918), and in its aftermath must have spent considerable time reflecting on his own mortality—a terrible afterglow in itself. Transported to distant places, few reference points correspond to his earlier music, as the song seems to waft far and away from earthly bonds, even consciousness.

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115%”>        At the quiet close of day,

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115%”>                Gently yet the willows sway;

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%”>                         When the sunset light is low,

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%”>                                  Lingers still the afterglow;

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%”>                                          Beauty tarries loth to die,

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%”>                                                   Every lightest fantasy

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%”>                                                            Lovelier grows in memory,

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%”>                                                                    Where the truer beauties lie.

text-indent:27.0pt;line-height:115%”>
115%”>                                                                                                  (James Fenimore Cooper, Jr.)

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 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;tab-stops:22.5pt”>
11.0pt;line-height:115%”>Ives instructed the pianist to play indistinctly, using both pedals to create a floating sound. Unfortunately, the song often is marred by heavy hands at the piano, which destroy the otherworldly qualities Ives was trying to convey. Played according to the composer’s intent, its reflective remoteness surely is an expression of Ives’s inner thoughts, a fitting commentary on his spiritual journey. Ives had also specified a similar approach to the last movement (Thoreau) of his mighty Concord Sonata, the subject of the next chapter, similarly suffering all too often from an inappropriate pianistic touch.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;tab-stops:22.5pt”>
11.0pt;line-height:115%”>The song is entirely unbarred, allowing for considerable flexibility, in order that the performers can gauge the sounds appropriately. Much of the accompaniment is based on patterns of gently alternating broken polychords, their components constructed from almost conventional intervals, though not functioning accordingly. A deep “pedal” tone in the bass sounds from time to time over the ringing of the chords, as light, even vague, melodic notes float in the uppermost lines, the mood and quietly fading light of the evening reflected in the words. With the vocal line often alluding to Erie (What a Fried We Have in Jesus), the piano often alternates between further broken chords, still largely conventional, in structure, at least. Gaining movement to reach the word, “light,” gradually both voice and piano drop and fade into the word, “afterglow;” hushed high “bell” tones ascend as if skywards. With the final words accompanied by a repeating cycle of broken chords ringing into each of their own sonorous “afterglows,” and after, “every lightest fantasy lovelier grows in memory,” the piano climbs to the highest notes of the song, thereafter dropping with the voice—at last, with the only clearly defined quoted fragment of Erie—placed according to the cumulative context of its ultimate realization, thereafter fading and drawing the listener out into space; he already had embarked on his Zen-like flight in the Universe Symphony.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;tab-stops:22.5pt”>
11.0pt;line-height:115%”>Although Ives could not have known about the ultimate afterglow of the cosmos, let alone envisaged the Cosmic Microwave Background (the leftover radiation still remaining from the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago).

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 normal”> 

tab-stops:22.5pt”><Insert IMAGE – The Cosmic Microwave Background radiation>

tab-stops:22.5pt”>The Cosmic Microwave Background
115%”>Radiation

12.0pt;line-height:115%”>—Afterglow of the universe;
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NASA

 

 

REFERENCES

 line-height:115%”> 


line-height:115%”>1.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> David Michael Hertz, “Ives’s Concord Sonata and the Texture of Music,” in Charles Ives and his World, ed. J. Peter Burkholder (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1996), 75–117.

line-height:115%”>2.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Philip Lambert, The Music of Charles Ives (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1997), 150–159.

line-height:115%”>3.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Charles E, Ives, Memos, ed. John Kirkpatrick (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972), 107.


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 115%”>CHAPTER 9

The Concord Sonata

 

 

 

<Insert IMAGE - Concord, Massachusetts at the turn of the 20th Century>


115%”>Concord, Massachusetts at the turn of the twentieth century

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text-indent:.5in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Considered by many Ives’s single greatest masterpiece, certainly the monumental Concord Sonata is one of his most momentous compositions, representing the very core of his life’s work, the product of near endless growth and soul searching. In only a few respects did the Concord Sonata draw upon models from any foreign soil:
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> this is true American music without nationalism, an attainment of artistic relevance in the New World, and in a new world in piano literature.
115%”>Technically, it is a colossus, a tour de force for any pianist to master. Considered unplayable for many years—to everyone, that is, except Ives1—it was John Kirkpatrick who, in 1939, would be the first to perform the complete sonata in concert. Kirkpatrick, of course, would go from there to becoming the leading Ives scholar in the world, one whose commitment to the composer has bequeathed him a permanent place high atop the keepers of the greater Ives legacy, despite the efforts of some to supplant him.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Through the vehicle of the piano, Ives’s epic
normal”>Second Piano Sonata: The Concord
transcends mere earthly constraints, and stands as one of a group of three large-scale works that occupy a defining place at the pinnacle of his output, (the others being the Fourth Symphony and the Universe Symphony). Illustrating the evolved maturation of his innovations, they had reached their fullest potential. When Ives finally put the Fourth Symphony aside in the 1920s, the Universe Symphony and the Concord Sonata would remain present in his mind from the moment they were contemplated until the end of his life. Still working on the Concord Sonata as late as 1947 for the Second Edition, he continued to refine small details, adding them to the printed page into his final days, while he would reflect on the Universe Symphony and bemoan his inability to complete it. Actual formal notation of the first version possibly was not begun until about 1915, but was finalized in detail by 1919 for publication, though Ives already had built most of the material—albeit in other works—even as early as 1904, and apparently had a fairly comprehensive concept of the sonata by 1913. Thus, during most of his adult life, it represents a lengthy evolution and highly personal expression of all that mattered to him.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>How is it possible to tell that the sonata was not in fact, the ultimate example of Ives’s musical maturation?
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Was this work, in fact, his ultimate destination? The fact that Ives was still working on the first movement until the time he ceased writing music almost entirely in 1927 (his efforts encapsulated within the Four Transcriptions from Emerson), and also agonized over the Second Edition into the late 1940s illustrates well, nevertheless, the proximity of the sonata to his core. Ives can be heard playing the Four Transcriptions from Emerson in private recordings he made over the years from 1933–1943,2 so one can quickly gain insights into what he expected of performers.
11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>However, the early dates of its raw materials
line-height:115%”>and initial completion put it well before Ives’s final steps. Both the Fourth and Universe Symphonies reveal advancement beyond even the vastly wide confines of the Concord Sonata. There are other, more telling clues, too. In both the sonata and penultimate symphony, Ives still was quoting hymns and vernacular melodies, as well as two distinguished references to Beethoven—not to mention allusions to numerous near light-hearted earthly things.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Thus, a gradual evolution away from secular quotations through Ives’s maturation is evident over the years, and movement towards religious material quite clear, although by no means does it follow an even curve. Ultimately, even the whittling down even of religious melodies becomes increasingly noticeable, leaving little melodic residual in their wake. Thus, the groundbreaking Finale of the
normal”>Fourth Symphony
is significant in this regard; significantly, limited mostly to the hymns, Nearer, My God to Thee, Missionary Chant and
line-height:115%;color:#0D0D0D”>Dorrnance.

11.0pt;line-height:115%”> At the end of the journey in the
normal”>Universe Symphony
, there is virtually nothing readily identifiable or “earthly” as a melodic quote, save for some diffuse references, again, pivotally to
normal”>Nearer, My God to Thee
, a few from
normal”>Erie
, one from In the Sweet Bye and Bye, and oddly, even a small fragment of Massa’s i
115%;color:windowtext”>n de Cold Ground.

line-height:115%;color:red”>
115%;color:windowtext”>In the sonata, some have noted an apparent absence of Nearer, My God in the sonata.
line-height:115%;color:red”>
115%;color:windowtext”>In theory, this absence separates the work from the last two surrounding symphonies.
115%”> However, it is there, as will become clear by the time one reaches the last movement.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The Concord Sonata is both tonal and atonal, frequently consisting of a highly diffused polytonal mix, crossed with freely conceived atonality. Its improvisatory feel presents listeners with a challenge to find order. The degree to which he forged it through a deliberate and careful evolution of the materials through the “cumulative” approach might be missed in casual listening, because what seems to be a free, improvisatory approach, in which thematic components are woven into the fabric almost incidentally, is illusionary. That Ives did not document his working methods
"Times New Roman"”> increases the challenge, and although he
normal”>would
share his inner thoughts about his mature musical philosophies (in Essays Before a Sonata,3 published concurrently with the Concord Sonata itself), he still did not divulge anything about his composing methods, or how he had arrived at them. It was as if discussing them in mechanical terms would destroy the magic of their creation.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>To what degree did the second edition of the
normal”>Concord Sonata
change it? For the most part, Ives restored some material from works originally he had abandoned, and that formed its core—the Emerson Concerto (sometimes called the Emerson Overture, for piano and orchestra), the Hawthorne Concerto (for piano and orchestra) and the Orchard House Overture (for orchestra). Because these works had contained additional material in the orchestral parts that was omitted from the first edition of the sonata, and, regretting some of his earlier decisions, Ives did his best to include them into the definitive version of the work he would leave behind as the second edition of 1947, a very late date along the timeline. (Kirkpatrick, however, having lived with the work for a long time, was slow to warm to the changes in the new version, ultimately settling on a blend of the two.) Ives could hardly bear to put the sonata to rest, even expressing that he wished he could leave Emerson (the first movement) unfinished, so it might always continue to evolve. Since something along these lines also was said (reputedly, but not necessarily by Ives!) about the Universe Symphony, it is worth bearing in mind that the Concord Sonata, however, had been put into a finished performable form in 1919, putting it squarely at an earlier date than the later sketches of the symphony. Regardless, the identity of the sonata remains constant from edition to edition.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The sonata is daunting. Its technical complexities are nothing short of orchestral, its fiber profound and personal; musically, the demands are beyond intimidating. It holds such an enormous reservoir of one man’s imagination that it can consume performer and listener alike for years, and even then, no one will ever know what lay within it as did the composer. Impressions of multiple speeds, layers and textures are created by free flowing, unmeasured, unevenly balanced events and sub-structures; in fact, there are few bar lines at all. Ives’s own recordings amply demonstrate the flexibility of playing he intended. Its immense scale and complexity, despite the huge expressive range that Ives was able to extract from the piano, makes following normal descriptive references always problematic.

 line-height:115%”> 

 line-height:115%”> 

line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

line-height:115%”>The four movements of the Concord Sonata (one for each of the Concord Transcendentalists) exceed by one movement that of most standard sonatas, though it is hardly a rarity in such literature, either. However, it differs further from most in featuring a significant thematic element throughout, that appears in its complete form only late in the sonata. Thus, Ives conceived the entire structure “cumulatively.” Regardless, each movement is complete in itself, a more formally revealed cumulative form being fairly clear in the first and third movements.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Ives was captivated, even haunted, throughout his entire compositional career by the four famous declamatory notes (Ives’s so-called Fate Motif) that open Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony; he heard them as man’s fate knocking at the door, presumably having heard them at his own more than a few times.
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> These four notes, along with what has been often proposed to be another quote—from Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata—frequently is combined with them in the sonata, although the identity of the quote is not agreed upon universally. However, if
115%”> one agrees that Ives indeed had this work in mind, rather than quote it verbatim, he assembled a curious amalgam of both Beethoven quotes. By retaining the essential rhythm within the outline of the Hammerklavier, and imposing the repetitive rhythm of the former on the slow-fast-fast rhythmic pattern and chords of the latter, the melodic variances above and below those notes provide a means to extend the Fate Motif, which always precedes it.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>These two quotes are sometimes stated in blocks of closely voiced chords; hymns are normally associated with such writing. In choosing two hymns to escort the Beethoven fragments—Missionary Chant and Martyn—Ives was well aware of their shared common melodic traits, allowing him to use the materials interchangeably, together and separately—supported by chords, or only as a single line—giving him the freedom to build and weave his ideas. A grand overriding theme, termed the Human Faith Melody, weaves the fundamentals of all four external musical sources in many ways; if the Beethoven fragments are clearest in melodic contour, the same is true of the hymns when existing in chordal settings.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>To hear the Human Faith Melody in its entirety, however, one has to wait until the end of the third movement (The Alcotts), in which it is revealed in its fullest form. It is only here that all the components of the Human Faith Melody are clearly bonded and stated all together; concluding the third movement, it arrives clad in grand hymn-like chords. Perhaps the best starting point for the new listener to the sonata, therefore, should be several hearings of
normal”>The Alcotts
. Identifying the components of the
normal”>Human Faith Melody
will be an advantage in recognizing them wherever they appear throughout the other movements, especially when they are infused with other material.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

line-height:115%”>
 normal”>Emerson

line-height:115%”>Hardly surprising Ives would choose Emerson as his inspiration for the first and most substantial movement of the sonata, Emerson, to Ives, perhaps was greater than any other American icon. For his philosophical enlightenment that plumbed the depths of the human spirit, Ives saw him standing alone in his endless renewals of thought and expression. In this movement, Ives encapsulated his hero; the magnitude of the music is as vast in scope, expanse, and revelation as anything Ives ever would write. If it seems overwhelming upon first encounter, so it should; Ives had not intended his music—especially
normal”>Emerson
—to be easy listening. As such, it is as close to Ives’s final destination as can be found in his output, save the last movement of the Fourth Symphony, and the even more colossal revelations of the Universe Symphony.

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line-height:115%”>In Essays Before a Sonata
italic”>, Ives remarked upon Emerson’s writing methods; anything so restrictive as carefully balanced phrases, predetermined or constrained thought processes, indeed anything else that might limit his horizons would not invade them. Rather than one structural part leading to the next in expected sequence, Emerson built a composite image from what might be termed “circular thought,” in which a composite view was obtained from all sides. In Emerson’s writing one must look beyond two seemingly unrelated consecutive thoughts or paragraphs. Instead, the entirety of the elements are tied to each other by common gravity, the sum of their parts slowly revealing the far larger realities he was trying to convey. Precisely what can be expected within the movement, too, Ives created a sonic representation of Emerson’s universe. Thus, any superficial impression of extravagant and wildly free design dissolves as fragmented detail connects through Emerson’s entire length; Ives looked at it from all sides.

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line-height:115%”>Certain specific aural guideposts will enable comprehension of the larger design. Aside from the four distinct thematic components that can be found throughout the sonata, others are specific only to this movement. One is a representation of Emerson himself: a marked, rhythmically angular five-note motif that suggests a person of striking and stoic character. Appearing near the beginning, at the top of the second “rush to the top,” the piano part leaps quickly from the bottom to the upper register to announce the motif in the first of many later, but identifiable guises. Another has been termed the Quasi-Pentatonic Melody, comprised of notes that resemble the five “black” keys on the piano—an immediately familiar sound—and common to the same five-note scale structure that Ives had used in the song, The Indians (see again Chapter 8). A segment of this material appears early in the bass just a couple of notes after the Emerson Motif. A keen ear will pick out elements of this motif throughout
italic”> the movement, and as always in Ives’s works, it is deceptively couched in varying character and application. However, the movement shares another, far more significant connection to the pivotal hymn, Bethany—Nearer, My God to Thee (see Thoreau, later). Additionally, a small quote from Crusader’s Hymn is believed to signify Emerson’s own struggles to reconcile religion and Transcendentalism. Additionally, a segment from his 1912–13 piano study, The Anti-Abolitionist Riots, was incorporated into the movement as well, in a reflection of Emerson’s views on slavery.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The limited number of quotations, however, is indicative of the fact that in many later works Ives was moving away from vernacular sources, and towards a balance of intricately woven diffuse musical textures. In any case, Ives surely would have preferred that his music should not be overanalyzed by the listener, the intention being for the musical components slowly to work their way into one’s consciousness, allowing its grand design to become clearer with each hearing—“looking at it from all sides”—in true Emersonian tradition.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·   
115%”>Emerson
opens with dramatic flourishes and bold writing, in which the musical elements are laid out. Ives identified this (effective) “exposition” section with a small subtitle,
normal”>Prose
. Because the elements are brief and often buried within complex textures, they might be difficult to identify—though both Beethoven motifs seem obvious enough, even that of Emerson himself, periodically announcing his presence, and characterized by a rhythmically angular contour. The Quasi-Pentatonic Melody is partially introduced in the bass, as well as other material derived from both the
normal”>Human Faith Melody
and the (Beethoven)
 normal”>Fate Motif.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As the music unfolds, the Fate Motif constantly reinvents itself, being transformed even into slower bass figures that accompany ascending motion built on the first notes of the Human Faith Melody in the upper lines. The Emerson Motif appears regularly, too, the music becoming increasingly restless.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A new section follows, softly, slower, more lyrical in nature and gentler in character, built around material (the Lyrical Motif), comprising the upcoming full statement of the Quasi-Pentatonic Melody. Ives subtitled it: Verse. The music grows increasingly turbulent as fragments of the
normal”>Fate Motif
 intrude, too.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    David Michael Hertz pointed out the direct tie to the standard blues progression in a second
normal”>Verse
segment.4 Broken chord-like movement accompanies the line of the extended
normal”>Quasi-Pentatonic Melody
, while the blues progression may be distinguished easily in the bass line. Grounded to the root of the tonality, it is punctuated by the characteristic alternating chords one fourth higher, and in this instance, at the end of each musical paragraph. The harmonic language that features the characteristic lowered seventh of the scale in both chords, just as found in the blues, too.
 line-height:115%;color:red”>

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The segment develops into swirling writing in the bass line, the Quasi-Pentatonic Melody set atop massive broken chords,
bold”>(somewhat reminiscent of the music of Maurice Ravel).

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As if a recapitulation, a new section, Prose, clearly identifies this later part of the movement with the opening material; now reflective, it features gentle reminders of the Emerson and Fate motifs, and is further extended by an elaborate fugal treatment in a section built on thematic material from the Prelude to
normal”>Tristan und Isolde
by Wagner—labeled by Ives,
normal”>Verse
; short-lived, the materials continue with increasing motion, though now they are considered Prose!

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As the
normal”>Tristan
segment dissipates, the Emerson Motif appears increasingly; together with both Beethoven motifs, they become gradually dominant, though the ever-more-reposeful settings of the materials allow their gestures to be elevated, as all else is left behind.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The movement winds down as the Emersonian revelation has become clear; the movement is a cumulative structure, out of which order emerges from chaos—in the spirit of Emerson’s thought processes: having viewed the everything from every direction and in all combinations, the non-essential clutter has been slowly stripped away, leaving just a final, slow-paced statement of the Fate Motif tolling in the bass to conclude the movement.

 line-height:115%”> 

 line-height:115%”> 

line-height:115%”>
 normal”>Hawthorne

line-height:115%”>Similar to the evolution of Emerson, much of Hawthorne was based on another of Ives’s earlier prospective works for piano and orchestra. If one’s impression of this movement were to be based solely on some commentary, all too likely one would conclude that the second movement of the Fourth Symphony is merely an orchestral transcription. Even having certain passages in common, likely, the casual listener would be unaware of most of them; overall, the symphonic movement will seem completely new. However, although one movement is an outgrowth of the other, they are both separate compositions with different histories. That is not to say, however, that there are not direct comparisons, although the symphonic movement is more a setting of Hawthorne’s tale, The Celestial Rail-road than is the sonata movement, in which the fancifully horrific story plays only a part.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Nevertheless, Ives was inspired by the fantastic and otherworldly visions of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writings, which often projected colorful visions of strange, mystical sights and weird contradictions at every turn. In setting Hawthorne’s imagination and creative vein to music, rather than the deeper themes of his thought—the dark side of man’s conscience and the consequences of guilt—the music of both the sonata and the symphony was intended thus as something of an adventure, free, chaotic, reckless, extravagant, even hair-raising, akin to a roller coaster ride at a scary theme park. In this instance, it began as the Hawthorne Concerto (c. 1910?), the major materials for which were lost, though more likely discarded. A number of similarly discarded earlier compositions for piano also comprised some of the materials (in characteristic Ives fashion), all of them suitably fantastic and similarly wildly imaginative: a preliminary version of Ives later piece, The Celestial Railroad, as well as Demons’ Dance around the Pipe, and also The Slaves’ Shuffle. Thus, Hawthorne’s first incarnation (1911 per Ives) is truly a remarkable flight of the imagination, appearing two years prior to Stravinsky’s
normal”>The Rite of Spring.

 115%”>

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Both the sonata and corresponding symphonic movement have some aural “handrails” in common: fragments galore of a number of vernacular tunes, vestiges of Ives’s lost world on Main Street, though in the Concord Sonata, its central theme (Ives termed it, The Human Faith Melody) is never far away. Otherwise, specifically, amongst the melodies stepping in and out of the fabric, common to both are: Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean, Martyn, The Battle Cry of Freedom, In the Sweet Bye and Bye, Debussy’s Golliwogg’s Cake-Walk—even Ives’s own music—particularly obvious in both being Country Band March, and much less so, He Is There!, Majority (it is hard to know which came first), and Take-Off No. 3: Rube Trying to Walk 2 to 3!!. Though clearly revealing some fragmentary elements of The Human Faith Melody as the music progresses, the movement serves in some ways as an evolution towards the revelations of the next movement, The Alcotts, than it is a typical model of cumulative form, per se. Regardless, the larger “cumulative” thought process is there.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>Hawthorne was not supposed to plumb the depths of profundity found in Emerson. However, its exceedingly dense and tangled texture is as great a virtuosic display as Ives could muster, a supernatural romp, a “scherzo” (as well as its counterpart in the Fourth Symphony), even a comedy or joke of sorts, though neither of these virtuoso tours de force is especially funny!

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 115%”> 

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The movement opens with flurries of activity (Ives’s “Magical Frost Waves”) that provide motivic materials for the larger movement; keen listeners will be able to hear the fast sixteenth notes of The Celestial Railroad common to the solo piano part in the Scherzo of the Fourth Symphony. Early on, a fragment of Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean is readily identifiable by its “dotted” rhythm; shortly thereafter, the first three notes of the Human Faith Melody (in a high register) serve as a reminder that it is still there.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A section emerges that further presents the first three notes of the Human Faith Melody in various guises, leading into a quiet passage that required the use of a 14-¾ inch board to play gentle clusters of “black” keys that accompany other material played on the “white” keys—a shocking affront at the time, though hardly abrasive to the modern listener; visually, however, it must have seemed outrageous. Borrowing its essence from Ives’s song, Majority, similar clusters of black keys are utilized to much the same effect and style, including what it accompanies, although in that instance the technique is utilized forcefully to entirely different effect.
 color:red”>

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Leaving the section with one further reference to the Human Faith Melody, the music picks up speed and urgency; suddenly, what appears to be a clear quotation of In the Sweet Bye and Bye appears out of thin air in the bass, perhaps a spiritual connection to the movement’s counterpart in the Fourth Symphony. The three-note motif, alternating back-and-forth (the first three notes), also links it to the Human Faith Melody; the gusto and incessant swirling continues.
 115%;color:red”>

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The
normal”>Fate
motif, and its adjoining Hammerklavier variant twice interject, winding down to a brief moment of repose built on the hymn, Martyn. Directly comparable to similar moments in the second movement of the
normal”>Fourth Symphony
—though Ives quoted other hymns, too (In the Sweet Bye and Bye, and Nettleton)—the segment represents the “trials of the Pilgrims in their journey through the swamp” in The Celestial Rail-road (see Scherzo, Fourth Symphony, Chapter 10). The way the segment is approached implies it always had been present at another level of consciousness and speed (again, just as in the
normal”>Fourth Symphony
). Appearing again,
normal”>Martyn
intones now more brilliantly and extensively, though it is altered from its former state in the original hymn.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Out of the blue, the music lurches into material from Ives’s rip-roaring 1903 Country Band March (that also formed the basis of
normal”>Putnam’s Camp
of Three Places In New England), and in one of the few places that correspond precisely with its appearance in the symphonic Scherzo.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As the
normal”>Country Band March
works its way out, an extended section evolves, recognizably similar to Debussy’s Golliwoggs’ Cakewalk, though not necessarily a quote. If so, its presence here is curious, since Debussy was amongst composers Ives least favored!

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    After a frenzied build-up, the music pauses, gently descending into a section built on
normal”>Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean
, again, much along the lines clearly heard in the symphonic Scherzo. The section concludes with a passing reference to
normal”>The Battle Cry of Freedom
, and Ives’s
normal”>He is there!
, written in anticipation of America’s involvement in World War I, and showing compositional input beyond the original 1911; (The Battle Cry of Freedom appears in the song as well.)

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The music assumes an increasingly fantastic display; both Beethoven motifs appear forcefully, as if to underline their importance. A last high registered fragment of
normal”>Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean
(characterized by its “dotted” rhythms), and a tiny reference to Martyn conclude the movement in a final mad dash.
 line-height:115%;color:red”>

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 normal”>The Alcotts

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mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace:none”>The
line-height:115%”> Alcott family occupies an important place in Ives’s Transcendentalism. Amos Bronson Alcott, father of famed novelist, Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), in many ways the least successful among the four primary Concord Transcendentalists (that include the mighty Emerson himself). Nevertheless, he is assured of his place in the pantheon of Transcendental thinkers, founding his own school of philosophy, and instituting an enlightened approach to education, the effects of which can be felt still to this day. Choosing a near-Spartan lifestyle, Bronson Alcott’s inability to find success in the workplace often necessitated his family’s surviving on loans and the help of others. The family home, Orchard House (subject of Ives’s discarded Orchard House Overture of 1902–04), took its name from the apple orchard in its grounds; at times, apples were all the family had to eat. Despite his elegant prose, Bronson Alcott’s writings met with limited success, many of his works being deemed unfathomable, even incoherent; reading them today often creates the same impression, though there can be no doubt that the words convey a deep quest for meaning; however, even Emerson’s admiration and careful editing was unable to salvage much of Alcott’s work. Thus, his predictive educational philosophies are his largest legacy, speaking to modern day social rethinking, far across the distances of time.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Despite Ives’s stated reservations about the elder Alcott’s accomplishments and practicality, it seems he was especially drawn to his wife’s simple virtues and the lack of materialism that they instilled in their family. Louisa May’s dedication to her father until his dying day reflected a bond, reminiscent of that between Ives and his father; by some extraordinary quirk of fate, Louisa May, already terminally ill, would die within a couple of days of her father’s demise—and seeming to accept his invitation to join him in the next life. The sonata movement celebrates more Ives’s vision of the Alcott’s quiet, happy tranquility reflected in their homestead than it does any specific attainment, one in which inner strength and resolve was as good an example of Transcendentalism as any. Indeed, the Spartan lifestyle of the Alcotts was echoed in many ways in Ives’s own. In spite of his substantial means, Ives lived simply, without even a radio, wearing the same simple clothes and hat year in, year out, as an old Ford Model “T” remained his most conspicuous private transportation. Carl Ruggles remarked that he hardly ate anything!5

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Simplicity and contentment, then, is the central theme of the movement. In some of the most touching music Ives would ever write, he would reference the Beethoven motifs extensively, as well as the Human Faith Melody, with elements of the hymn, Missionary Chant woven into it. Ives saved the full cumulative evolutions of all the Human Faith components for this movement, finally revealing them complete at its conclusion. Thus, almost as if viewing the first three movements as one continuous thought, conspicuously, the high point appeared here, and not in the next (and last) movement. Although The Alcotts dates to 1914, structurally, it is built on the earliest materials found in the sonata, making the date of the movement itself (1914) fairly late for its style—a relatively conventional sounding and technically less challenging piece compared to the complex sprawls of the two prior movements.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The movement starts softly with the Fate Motif, so contemplative and reflective it is easy to miss its musical identity entirely. Infused with the chordal blocks of Missionary Chant, the hymn the shares the same notes and rhythms; in this instance, the line does not progress immediately into the Hammerklavier Motif. In an extended section built on much of the Human Faith Melody, more forceful restatements of Missionary Chant, Hammerklavier and Fate motifs conjoined, gain in energy and speed, while increasingly diverging from simpler tonalities. Loud statements of the Fate Motif lead to a brief reflection of the Emerson Motif, just to remind the listener, perhaps, of his strong influence upon Bronson Alcott, before further quiet snatches of the Hammerklavier and Fate motifs lead the music to a contrasting section.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The influence of ragtime pervades a two bar melodic fragment (possibly original to Ives) that sounds more than a little like Bringing in the Sheaves (not dissimilar to its appearance in the First Piano Sonata), followed by a remarkably placed (and easily missed) reference to the end of the verse of the traditional Scottish song, Lock Lomond—placed there because of the Scottish airs (or as Ives mistakenly called them “Scotch” songs) that sometimes filled the Alcotts’ home.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    It is followed by a soft, gentle cadence—an easily identifiable short fragment of the Wedding March by Wagner (to signify the wedded bliss of the Alcotts)—and an extended section built on a quotation of the minstrel song Stop that Knocking at My Door to continue the segment. In this instance, likely Ives put it there to announce the upcoming full statement of the Human Faith Melody, fate now knocking at the door of opportunity, according to Ives’s view. In Ives’s own recorded performance, his fleet fingers show the fluid, unmeasured way he conceived the run up to the grand moment of revelation.3

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    At last, the full, grand and massive statement of the entire Human Faith Melody—with its Beethoven references, chordal and hymn-like cloak—appears in this summation of the three movements that preceded it; fittingly, the movement concludes with a low and reposeful C major chord—a chord without sharps or flats—quietly ringing out as much to reflect Ives’s own inner peace as it does Alcott’s.

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 normal”>Thoreau


 115%”> 

Walden Pond, Concord, Mass.

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Image by John Phelan

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text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:
none;text-autospace:none”>Rather than try to depict what was specific to Henry David Thoreau’s thoughts, philosophies or writings, Ives would create a musical portrayal of a summer’s day of contemplation around Walden Pond near Concord. The thought-provoking setting he had in mind was, of course, Thoreau’s great writing, Walden; or, Life in the Woods, which stemmed from the two years he spent there living in a simple cabin next to the lake on Emerson’s property. A truly impressionistic piece of music, one can trace links to other contemporary artistic movements of the day, especially to some of the liquid floating sounds found, too, in many of Debussy’s pianistic textures. Largely reflective, thus, Thoreau seems to be one last glance back toward Concord and all that it represented, the place that had inspired Ives towards the ultimate musical journey upon which now he was embarking.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%;mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:
none;text-autospace:none”>Ives instructed the pianist to play the movement at a lower dynamic level than the rest of the sonata, making continual use of both pedals, which results in a fluid quality to the sound as much as it owes to the style and subject of the writing itself. The pond is clearly depicted from the start, as ripples seem to radiate outwards from spreading contours of sustained tones, reminiscent, too, of the writing found in the song, Afterglow. Often thought to be the only movement conceived from the start specifically for the sonata, in fact, it was built largely from another lost youthful work, Walden Sounds, (no exact date known), for piano, strings and woodwinds, and recreated into the last movement of the sonata. Apparently, Ives considered that the original version had been a superior setting of the material, presumably due to the more varied instrumental coloration. In 1915 Ives further extracted the music from this movement into a song of the same name, setting the following text from Walden; or, Life in the Woods:

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”> 

margin-left:112.5pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>He grew in those seasons like corn in the night,

margin-left:112.5pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>rapt in revery, on the Walden shore,

margin-left:112.5pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>amidst the sumach, pines and hickories,

margin-left:112.5pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:115%”>in undisturbed solitude.

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text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>In linking these words to the music, just as he had done by quoting Loch Lomond (in
normal”>The Alcotts
) to suggest “Scotch” songs, Ives again took the refrain from Massa’s in de Cold Ground (“
bold”>Down in de cornfield”), likely as a representation of the corn patch by Thoreau’s lakeside shack. Geoffrey Block, in his book on the sonata, referenced the possible “discovery” of a “musical pun,” amongst other connected motifs between this fragment and the otherwise curiously absent,
normal”>Nearer, My God to Thee
6—the hymn so significant in many of Ives’s late works, and the last quotation along his road to the stars. Far more striking, however, is the far stronger connection, still, of the hymn to the so-called
normal”>Quasi-Pentatonic Melody
, the first strain of which shares the same notes and sequence, the second, further yet, implying its high point! It would appear that Nearer, My God to Thee (Bethany) was present in the sonata all along.

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 115%”> 

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The movement opens with the gentle imagery of the sun sparkling on expanding ripples moving across the water; free and flexible, it proceeds in a highly extemporized manner that feels more like a cadenza; indeed, in this summation of the sonata, such loose washes of sound seem fitting and right amongst more subtle statements of motivic elements.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As the fleet-footed virtuosity reaches a calm, the first appearance of “Down in de cornfield” is placed discreetly; reappearing soon after, high in the upper register, the notes are subtly changed, though still identifiable; the essence of the quote continues to pervade the liquidity of the music.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Rhythms and their groupings are mixed and interchanged with remarkable freedom, (related to the techniques found in Like a Sick Eagle and The Indians, it simulates to as great a degree as anywhere the multiple speeds and independent “choirs” or levels of sound that so typify Ives’s mature orchestral works. In unmistakable style, the high point of the movement is reached in a prominent bell-like section that, if not the “Concord bell” of Ives’s descriptions, might be all the church bells of Concord.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A stride pattern in the bass follows, characterizing the “Concord bell,” and supports expanded lyricism built upon “Down in de cornfield” to conclude the section. “Dotted” rhythms seem to imply the presence of Emerson, too, and thus the master Transcendentalist seems ever-present.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A substantial segment follows, featuring mixed and varying rhythmic groupings, and numerous motivic fragments entwined. Finally, a progression of chords in contrary motion between both hands leads to a segment in which the structure of the chords often is conventional, though their frequent polytonality is not. “Down in de cornfield” pervades the fabric, as does the tolling “Concord bell” in the bass. One can tell the sonata is reaching its final stages. Even the Quasi-Pentatonic Melody of the first movement makes a return in a different guise as the music drifts along.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Startlingly, a distant flute (although the sonata may be played without it) enters with the Human Faith Melody, albeit, sounding nothing like its grand form in The Alcotts, across a return to the shimmering liquid sounds established early in the movement by the piano. A further example of Ives’s spatial writing, the flute solo seems eerily reminiscent of the early piece,
normal”>The Pond
(1906). Repeating the segment, gentler still with the “Concord bell” tolling, the melody wafts by once again in full and recognizable form. With further appearances of  “Down in de cornfield,” finally, one last pebble is thrown into the water, the ripples once again spread out, and Fate weighs in one last time atop the retreating echoes across the waters, into the stillness of the air and final silence.

 line-height:115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Stuart Feder theorized that the unexpected solo flute part was a representation of his father, George Ives, and his efforts to learn the flute.7 It would indeed be a fitting tribute to his father’s memory, even if the movement was supposed to be about Thoreau! However, its placement here might tie it, thus, to George Ives’s “echo” experiments, as did its presence in The Pond; the choice of instrument seems eerily linked. However, Feder’s charge that Ives’s chapter about this movement in Essays Before a Sonata was “angry” does seem off the mark. Passionate? Yes. Ives was writing about an ideal world, likely never attainable, and probably represented by the quiet calm in this movement. It is hard to conceive that Ives would not have been completely comfortable living under the new societal rules he proposed. Indeed, he lived that way already.

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REFERENCES

 


1.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Vivian Perlis, Charles Ives Remembered, an Oral History (University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL, 1974), 224; sound recording: Charles Ives Plays Ives, CRI 810 (CD) [1999]

2.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Charles Ives Plays Ives, CRI 810 (CD) [1999]; track 42.

3.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Charles Ives, Essays Before a Sonata (Knickerbocker Press, New York), 1920.

4.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>“Ives’s Concord Sonata and the Texture of Music,” David Michael Hertz, in Charles Ives and his World, ed. by J. Peter Burkholder (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1996), 114.

5.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Perlis, 173

6.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Geoffrey Block, Ives Concord Sonata (Cambridge University Press, UK, 1996), 35; 55.

7.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Stuart Feder, Charles Ives: “My Father’s Song,” a Psychoanalytic Biography (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1992), 271–72.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 115%”>CHAPTER 10

The Fourth Symphony


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text-indent:.5in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Ives’s star-spangled Fourth Symphony occupies a unique place in the pantheon of masterpieces of the twentieth century, and until the realization of a complete version of the Universe Symphony (the successor to the Fourth), in 1995, it seemed Ives was represented by no higher musical aspiration or accomplishment. Culminating in the miraculous forward-looking last movement, Ives’s
normal”>Fourth
does indeed lead far along the road to the stars, and looks into the depths of spirituality, time, space and the unknown—a contemplated of the composer’s place within it, as its Finale lifts one heavenwards on a wave of benediction and absolution. A monumentally Transcendental work, the vast array of performers it calls for features no less than three pianos, three conductors, even a chorus, to put flight to Ives’s imagination from the page into sound.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The relationship between the two late symphonies becomes clearest, however, by the time the last movement of the
normal”>Fourth
is reached. No less an auspicious figure than Bernard Herrmann,1 a devoted Ives disciple (who would ultimately secure his greatest legacy in Hollywood with such legendary scores as Hitchcock’s
normal”>Psycho
), would remark that the fourth movement of this symphony “belonged to some far distant future.” Remarkably, he had the special skills to judge it at a time when the music existed only in written form, never having heard it performed.2 Commenting that the universal qualities of this music occupied a truly cosmic realm, it
normal”>
seems Herrmann, too, was aware of Ives’s destination. Leaving off where the Universe Symphony begins, the Finale of the
normal”>Fourth Symphony
has major features in common, not the least of which are its otherworldly sounds and spatial imagery, and even more significantly, its independent percussion “battery.” The symphony no longer sounds like Danbury. There would be no turning back, as Ives seized many of the same otherworld tenets that would be central to the
normal”>Universe Symphony.
In emphasizing that the primary esthetic for the Fourth was the search for the larger questions of existence, if he did not find all the answers in the Fourth, he would find them in its successor.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The Fourth Symphony embraces multiple idioms, too, so the movements are anything but uniformly bound together in style, though entirely consistent with Emersonian thought. Utterly logical and balanced in their progression, nevertheless, they illustrate the summation of Ives’s preparation for his ultimate musical journey (the Universe Symphony), as well as the refinements gained from a lifetime in the proving ground of discovery. Though not likely conceived in the form that would finally evolve (does such a work by Ives exist?), the Fourth Symphony gradually assumed its identity over a period of years. Ives considered it to have been composed between 1910 and 1916, but likely he was still refining it until 1919. However, he would return to the Scherzo and Finale in the 1920s, though for different reasons (see below). The sketch materials, dates, copied and partial scores are numerous and confusing. Unlike any of Ives’s symphonies that preceded it, in totality, the work no longer bears any relationship at all to traditional symphonic form; thus, now Ives had fully abandoned European symphonic structural traditions, although he still retained the name and large-scale concept for multi-movement orchestral works, as he had done also with the Symphony of Holidays. Thus:

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 115%”> 

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>      I.     The
normal”>First Movement
, the shortest of the four is cast in the form of a prelude. Serving as an introduction to all that follows, its function is dissimilar to most symphonic first movements, which usually are the longest and weightiest.

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>    II.     For the Second Movement, Scherzo (literally, a joke), it is theorized that Ives originally decided to use his earlier
normal”>Hawthorne Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
in its entirety. However, after 1916, it appears he had a change of heart and during the 1920s, completely recomposed much of the Hawthorn material into its new identity as this movement. Its materials closely parallel a version for piano, entitled The Celestial Railroad, with a mutual program echoing Nathaniel Hawthorne’s scary short story, The Celestial Rail-road. Conspicuously, though Hawthorne in the
normal”>Concord Sonata
and the new Scherzo can be heard to share musical material in common, the two subsequent derivative works are far from carbon copies. In 1927 Eugene Goossens and some members from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra undertook the considerable challenge of playing the Prelude and Scherzo in a special performance. Out of everything Ives wrote, the Scherzo was the largest-scale work that he ever would hear in person; after years of existing only in his mind, it must have been an auspicious occasion. Elliot Carter recalled that Ives invited some of the percussionists to his New York residence to help them with the tangled rhythms by pounding them out on the dining table.3

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>  III.     The Third Movement, posing as a double organ fugue (though not fully conforming to the form) dates to Ives’s days with Parker. First appearing in his First String Quartet, it would be adapted many years later for the symphony. Surprisingly, this most immediately accessible of all of the four movements had to wait another six years before it, too, would see the light of day. First performed
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>
line-height:115%”>in New York City in 1933 by the New Chamber Orchestra, it was under the direction of none other than Bernard Herrmann, who had been so tireless in his early support and recognition of the unknown composer. Originally intended as the second movement, the
11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> first performance of the Prelude, and (formerly) third movement, Scherzo, caused Ives to switch its position to the new placement as the third movement, reassigning the
normal”>Scherzo
as the second. This was a fortuitous decision indeed, since the fugue movement clears the air following the boisterous romp of the Scherzo, and most importantly, accomplishes the task before the extraordinary musical and spiritual journey of the Finale.

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text-indent:-27.0pt;mso-text-indent-alt:-9.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-list:l14 level1 lfo35”>  IV.     The
normal”>Fourth Movement
was reconstructed (much of it having been mislaid during the late teens) and copied into full score in 1923, but it would be more than two decades later before all aspects of the final score were set in stone out of the vast pool of sketch materials. The symphony had to wait another two decades until 1965 for its first complete performance, under the direction of Leopold Stokowski and the newly formed American Symphony Orchestra (assisted by conductors David Katz and José Serebrier), the multiple conductors speaking to its independent speeds and complexity. Thus, the last movement finally was played for the first time over forty years after its reconstruction, and sadly Ives did not live to hear the supernatural sonics and true real beginning of his voyage to the stars. However, he was aware of its significance at the time, considering it the best piece he had written; it is hard to argue otherwise.

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line-height:115%”>Parallel thoughts

line-height:115%”>Ives wrote the Conductor’s Notes—now included with the printed score—following the first performance of the Scherzo, one that was not completely satisfactory due to the players’ unfamiliarity with its unprecedented complexity. This included a small essay on some of the philosophical ideas behind it, but significantly, Ives also added some of the most detailed markings and indications found in any of his scores, revealing a lot about the way he perceived aspects of balance in his music. Even more importantly, he outlined something that will be encountered again—remarkably, the very same idea he would feature and describe as his vision for the
normal”>Universe Symphony
!4 Here, however, he had raised it, too, for the Scherzo of the Fourth Symphony, almost to a word. Because he wrote his commentary long after composing both works, surely he related the idea only in hindsight for the Fourth Symphony—the element he considered common to both works being scarcely recognizable in the same sense.
line-height:115%”>More surprising, however, is that he did not relate this concept to the last movement of the Fourth Symphony, because it is here that the idea really is closely aligned with its successor.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Scenery in the Adirondacks again had been the catalyst to both of these symphonies’ germinations, and directly related to Ives’s stays in the area (see Chapter 11). Specifically, Ives compared “
bold”>parallel listening,” to the effect of viewing the skies and clouds above—while maintaining an awareness of the landscape below—in which multiple musical levels might be appreciated together, though differently. According to the attention paid to each level individually, by selectively shifting one’s attention to either, awareness of the other is reduced but not eliminated.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>In the Scherzo, therefore, what was the parallel element Ives was referring to? Most of its content and imagery hardly compares with the panoramic vistas he enshrined in his Universe Symphony.
normal”>
Aside from some short episodes that feature a soft quarter-tone group that continues independently of multiple loud interruptions, true parallel entities are not the predominant feature of the movement. The sonic depiction of Hawthorne’s The Celestial Railroad within the movement (also featured prominently in the Concord Sonata) is a cacophony of wildly disparate elements, including multiple fragments of near countless vernacular melodies, so it hardly offers the listener a chance to settle on separate levels such as conceptualizing the skies above and the earth below! Even in instances of potential parallel levels, they consist of measured rhythmic groupings of notes—sometimes as patterns—that coincide with others by their common denominators, only to repeat the cycles over again. In this sense, they were hardly designed as the separate layers of Ives’s grand descriptions and references.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Perhaps, though, Ives had decided to broach his concept of parallel listening relative to a work that actually had been completed and performed, lest it never be raised at all. We must remember that by 1929, the date of these comments, any prospect of completing the Universe Symphony had largely faded from view. Regardless, long before this time, of course, Ives already had featured parallel listening in many other prior works in different guises and contexts, of course, dating back to The Unanswered Question, and even before
normal”>.
Although, nevertheless, these multiple layers cannot be compared to the grand scenic vistas he later would have in mind, the germ of the idea was far from new to him.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>However, perhaps the most significant aspect is that now Ives himself had umbilically tied the Fourth Symphony to his ultimate musical destination, the Universe Symphony. Thus, as encountered so often in his music, many ideas and materials emanate from before, albeit in different guises, showing that his thoughts probably were flooded continually with his
normal”>entire
creative output, right up until the point at which he found himself. Just as he demonstrated with his tendency to continually redevelop earlier pieces into new ones, it is possible to begin to understand how Ives’s composing processes took place. It seems that seldom he saw any idea as fully explored—once again, the philosophy of continual renewal.

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 115%”> 

line-height:115%”>Ives’s mature counterpoint

line-height:115%”>Ives’s masterpiece as a whole was criticized by some for being beyond the ear’s capacity to resolve—that his orchestration was fundamentally at fault. However, since Ives knew his orchestration, that criticism can be put aside. Ives also was aware of the laws of physics in which dominant sounds cancel out lesser ones, but rejected that the ear was unable to hear what did not correspond to the theoretical.5 Writing about the proper placement of instruments to help combat such issues in his notes for the Scherzo of the symphony, it seems that Ives was more aware than his critics of the ear’s ability to catch glimpses of things within the larger texture, and the effects of coloration that every part played in the whole.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The Finale broke new ground, introducing a kind of contrapuntal texture that featured many similar lines that moved in entirely different orbits. As with Bach’s music, Ives’s music, even more the Finale of this mighty symphony, challenges the listener to hear horizontally, instead of merely vertically, the latter being the easiest of listening skills. Few people indeed can claim honestly that they can resolve all the parts individually in Bach’s contrapuntally complex music. However, everyone hears them in combination, which is certainly part of the desired effect, if not all of it. Even if not comprehended at quite the same level that these composers intended, everyone still is experiencing the music in full. And no one can deny that just the combined vertical effect of Ives’s (or Bach’s!) horizontal linearity is an awesome noise indeed.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Perhaps, though, most striking in the Fourth Symphony are the various celestial and spiritual references. Ives was looking towards the heavens, his thoughts perhaps now moving rapidly towards another celestial journey; with his father’s early death, Ives might have thought his own ascendency out of the physical realm also could follow soon.

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 115%”> 

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115%”>Movement 1 – Prelude

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<Insert IMAGE - See that Glory Beaming Star!>

Image courtesy ESA/NASA & R. Sahai; nasaimages.org

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“Traveler, o’er Yon Mountain’s Height,

See that Glory Beaming Star!”


 115%”> 


 115%”> 

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115%”>Conspicuously, the most significant quotes in this movement are from hymns. The music also gains its powerfully moody effect from the unique and telling blend of opposite tonalities, rhythms, and simple traditional elements. In its otherworld quality, it is clear that Ives had already left Danbury and New England, the Prelude seeming to have more in common with the Finale than it does with the next, almost as if written out of sequence. Perhaps, indeed it was, if not in deed, in thought.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The movement has an interesting history, with a portion (a setting of John Bowring’s poem, Watchman, tell us of the night,
mso-bidi-font-family:"È‹’\002728͡øfi‡Õ"”>and Lowell Mason’s telling hymn setting) having started out in a simpler vein within the First Violin Sonata.
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> It indicates again that Ives seemed long to have had harbored visions of the cosmos. However, in the sonata, the music was represented in its basic form only without the words, a more significant observation than it might seem; in the 1913 song, Watchman, when the words were added in the adaptation of this portion of the sonata, suddenly celestial visions jump out (see Chapter 8) with all that follows in the setting.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Ives claimed he had sketched out this movement between 1910 and 1911, a confusing picture, since the song version of
normal”>Watchman
apparently dates later (1913), appearing to complicate knowledge of just when it was that the symphonic version came about. Though it might never be known exactly how it evolved, it seems hard to question that it must have been the last incarnation of the material.

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 115%”> 

line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    With a stormy bluster announcing great things to come, the symphony begins. As an introductory prelude rather than a traditional first movement, the main substance of the symphony lies beyond it. The violent short opening figure in the low instruments immediately is echoed upside down (inverted), in the high violins. This inverted figure found its way into the Prelude from Ives’s First Piano Sonata. (Heard again early in the last movement of the symphony, it bears some links to the opening notes of Nearer, My God to Thee, otherwise known as Bethany.)

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Immediately, a “distant choir” of harp and two violins can be heard
line-height:115%;font-family:"È‹’\002728͡øfi‡Õ";mso-bidi-font-family:"È‹’\002728͡øfi‡Õ"”>playing independently of the larger group; again celestial thoughts reference the “glory beaming star” of Bowring’s poem
line-height:115%;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>.
11.0pt;line-height:115%”> Playing a disguised version of the opening three notes of Nearer, My God to Thee in E Major, the sound of this little group seems to be suspended in space. Such writing is a direct descendent of the spatial music encountered earlier in The Unanswered Question, not to mention, Central Park in the Dark. Continuing at times through most of the movement, it is seemingly unaffected by what surrounds it, far removed to the evolving cosmic musical horizon.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Another variant of the opening motif leads into the main part of the movement. The violin and harp choir continue, as a plaintive solo cello plays In the Sweet Bye and Bye (a melody that not insignificantly shares certain melodic traits with Nearer, My God to Thee), though here it is set in an entirely different key: A Major—the key that normally would be the result of a harmonic resolution from E Major (of the “distant choir”). Here, as in the song, The Indians, both the “dominant” (before) and “tonic” (after) keys are heard sounding simultaneously, in addition to other less predominant tonalities. The combination reveals these melodies in ways not heard before, a throwback to Ives’s early years of polytonal harmonies. The piano, set further in tonal opposition, is joined by the flute, with the first three notes of the
normal”>Fate
Motif (derived from the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony), while the celeste plays another variant of Bethany.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The cello gives way to a chorus of actual voices, singing Watchman, tell us of the night, with building orchestral textures, while the flute continues, joined by the strings. It is possible even to make out the unexpected, but familiar sounds of Westminster Chimes (likely symbolizing time)6 in the celeste! Curiously, Ives indicated that he would prefer this section of the movement to be performed without voices, the remaining solo trumpet reflecting a custom of his father at camp meetings. This is not how it is usually heard, however, though the strong celestial underpinnings of the words, “See that glory beaming star!” make actual voices seem inevitable; indeed, it is written thus towards the end of the movement.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·   
mso-bidi-font-family:"\@º\002728͡øfi‡Õ"”>The high point of the melody is the crux of the movement. Similar to the setting of the song
normal”>Watchman
, the extraordinary low line in the cellos seems to plumb the very depths by being one and a half steps lower (B minor) than the expected D Major tonality. After brief quotes from Something for Thee and Proprior Deo (significantly, it is the alternate English setting of Nearer, my God to Thee), towards the end of the section, the flute and strings take a fragment from the ending cadence of Bringing in the Sheaves (or possibly, it is I Hear Thy Welcome Voice), to conclude with one more quote from Bethany. This kind of seamless interweaving of otherwise well-trodden melodies demonstrates again material not only re-energized, but sounding completely new.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A brief interlude bridges a fuller and noble concluding statement of Watchman; the music thins out, fragments and trails off into the distance.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The celestial “choir” of violins and harp, which had briefly fallen silent, returns as a reminder that the “glory beaming star” still hangs brightly in the still night sky.

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115%”>Movement 2 – Scherzo

 

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115%”>By any standards, this movement is an extraordinary concoction; perhaps only in Ives’s Fourth of July is such a raucous cacophony of this scale on display. However, that it precisely the point; both are sonic representations of the fantastic. Though modeled closely on materials shared with the second movement of the
normal”>Concord Sonata
, even more Hawthorne’s fantastic but ultimately horrific visions in his own The Celestial Rail-road,
"Times New Roman"”> if the subject matter has barely changed, the content and scope is drastically more all encompassing. Here Ives included many aspects of local flavor, and recalling for one final time his youth in Danbury, piled them all on top of one another in an amazing
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:windowtext”>cacophony of orchestral showmanship and reckless abandon.
11.0pt;line-height:115%”> Fittingly, the coda erupts in what might just be another vision of the Fourth of July holiday.
11.0pt;line-height:115%;color:red”>
line-height:115%;color:windowtext”>If
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115%;color:windowtext”>it is fireworks exploding amid the sounds of celebration, this time, though, it is on a far grander scale than anything might have seen in any small town
line-height:115%”>(Concord, according to Henry Bellamann’s 1927 program notes); was it fireworks over the Statue of Liberty, perhaps?

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115%”>It is no coincidence that the hymn melody,
normal”>In the Sweet Bye and Bye
, features so prominently in this movement as well as the first. Once aware of the words, it is not surprising to find this particular melody appearing in so many guises in this ultimately spiritual Fourth Symphony, even more since Ives incorporated the Pilgrims in the setting, too. In the highly reflective circumstances of Ives’s life at this time, the words are completely fitting. Perhaps meeting his father on that beautiful shore was in his mind, because Ives was approaching the age his father died when he was working on the symphony.

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115%”>If the subject of the second movement was considered by Ives to be a “comedy” in the manner of a romp through life (and in this case his memories), more particularly it is an excursion into the realm of the supernatural. Despite having the same musical genesis as the Hawthorne movement of the Concord Sonata it is very different music, and only gradually does one become aware of its many ties and similarities. Ives again would incorporate his musical vision of Hawthorn’s work into a late solo piano piece based on the same material, and of almost identical layout to the Scherzo, in The Celestial Railroad (1925).

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<Insert Image – Movement 2>

Image courtesy NASA, ESA and A. Schaller (for STScI); nasaimages.org

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 115%”> 


And by faith we can see it afar; We will offer our tribute of praise
For the Father waits over the way For the glorious gift of His love
To prepare us a dwelling place there. And the blessings that hallow our days.

Refrain:
We shall sing on that beautiful shore In the sweet bye and bye,
The melodious songs of the blessed; We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more, In the sweet by and by,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest. We shall meet on that beautiful shore.
” height=”128” src=”file://localhost/Users/antonycooke2/Library/Caches/TemporaryItems/msoclip/0/clip_image001.png” width=”346” />

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115%”>The cosmic component of the Scherzo is revealing, too, since “celestial” thoughts again link this work to the otherworldly visions of the Universe Symphony. True to Ives’s music in general, one work serves only as a basis upon which the next goes further, in this movement he seems to have had his gaze fixed ever more closely on the stars, amidst the earthly chaos that seemingly struggles to delay his departure.

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A celestial railroad

line-height:115%”>Gayle Sherwood Magee claimed that the Scherzo—even more, Ives’s carefully prepared score for its 1927 premiere—somehow, represented a more radical departure from anything Ives had attempted prior to 1918.7 The implication was that it could have been “updated” to garner ready acceptance from the avant-garde of the 1920s. However, this charge does not add up on several counts. In fact, the movement does not represent any particular departure from Ives’s evolved language of the second decade, although it certainly was his most massively complex orchestral texture to date—an amazing kaleidoscope of interactions—tonally, rhythmically and developmentally. Furthermore, near-fully scored portions of the Universe Symphony from around 1916 reveal that this music certainly was
normal”>not
the most radical Ives had contemplated before 1918. If Ives were trying to impress the avant-garde, would he not have chosen and prepared something from one of his most advanced efforts? It would have been no harder to prepare the almost ready first section of the Universe Symphony than it would this movement.

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Nature’s own celestial railroad


115%”><
Insert IMAGE – A celestial railroad from Death Valley>

The Milky Way imaged in Death Valley, California. Image courtesy NASA/National Park Service

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115%”>However, there is a larger point to be made. Even within the Fourth Symphony, the Finale is far more advanced in compositional design than the Scherzo, indeed representing a near-culminating example of Ives’s furthest developed art, and appearing to date, at least in its essential form, to before 1916. The first complete edition of the movement, prepared by a copyist, was made from Ives’s manuscripts in 1923, four years before the preparation and first performance of the Scherzo. Although a second edition of the Finale was made in 1944, Ives did not revise his manuscripts beyond the time of the first edition, a date at which he was still unknown to the musical avant-garde. So if Magee were to be correct, why would he select and update a less advanced movement in 1927 instead of the latter, which was already complete, fully revised, and known to have been of great satisfaction to him?

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115%”>Returning to the Scherzo, to understand it better one need only look to Ives’s life, since many friends and acquaintances had remarked that the composer appeared to live and work in complete disarray, though knew where everything was, be it in his office, studio, or most importantly, his mind. Again, he was the living personification of order rising out of chaos. In the second movement, as he rode his own railroad in the sky, Ives revealed multiple trains of thought and the remarkable ability mentally to compartmentalize all of them. The huge and complex tour de force was the closest he would ever come to creating musical order out of chaos, and within its approximately twelve minutes a blend of all manner of twentieth century techniques appear in league with fragments of manipulated popular melodies, civil war tunes, hymns, ragtime, barn dances, and more.

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115%”>However, despite Ives’s description of this movement as a comedy or romp,
"Times New Roman"”>there are spiritual differences, too, between it and Hawthorne in the
normal”>Concord Sonata.
With the steady backdrop and reminders of the pioneering Pilgrims, Ives does not let one escape the religious overtones saved for this music, one of his two mightiest symphonic excursions. Representing their own toils and travels in life—a “journey through the swamp,” according to Henry Bellemann’s notes for the 1927 premiere—the Pilgrims can be heard in quiet hymn-based episodes punctuating the mighty bustle, in direct contract to the hedonism of the celestial travelers.
line-height:115%”>Ives thus presented all manner of imagery, never losing sight of the counterpoise of the worldly against the otherworldly in a parody of Bunyan’s Pilgrims’ Progress, as represented by the struggles and quiet fortitude of his ancestors. It ought to be said, though, that the sheer power of Ives’s orchestral excursion is so great that any expectation of finding Ives’s religiosity in this movement is likely to be misplaced.
 115%”>

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115%”>Musically, the Scherzo is full of patriotic calls to arms, and the clash of secularism with timeless values, the latter glimpsed only between outbreaks of bombast; in this sense it can be considered philosophically different to the rest of the symphony, which has a more continuous and direct spiritual presence. Stuart Feder made some very perceptive observations about the relationship of the second movement to Hawthorn’s Celestial Rail-road text,8 quoting a portion of the text as a comment on its substance:
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 115%”> 

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11.0pt;line-height:115%”>“We heard an exulting strain, as if a thousand instruments of music, with height, with depth, and sweetness in their tones, at once tender and triumphant, were struck in unison, to greet the approach of some illustrious hero, who had fought a good fight, and won a glorious victory, and was come to lay down his battered arms forever.”

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115%”>In illustrating perfectly the sonorous clashes in Ives’s Scherzo, Feder applied the words to the entire symphony, whereas only the second movement reflected them; it might be the wrong analogy, but it does fit the larger picture, nevertheless. However, Feder also proposed that Ives essentially had given up composition after the Fourth Symphony as a “sacrifice” to his father, who had done the same in music at the comparable stage of life in order to try to better support his family. The fact that Ives did not give up music at this time is clear; in fact, he increased his musical energies. Contradicting himself later, Feder proposed another similarly insupportable theory to explain why Ives stopped composing in the 1920s (see Chapter 11). Regardless, in the Scherzo, one cannot doubt
color:windowtext”>that Danbury still is
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115%”>predominantly on Ives’s mind, in spite of Hawthorne’s almost supernatural subject matter. Perhaps its massive indulgence in Ives’s memories betrays a final struggle to hold on to it just a little longer.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The sheer number of quoted fragments of melodies is overwhelming; listing each and every one of them buried in the score hardly would be practical or helpful. Ives was not concerned that all of these components necessarily be separated. Significantly, a substantial number of them feature a telltale three-note figure that unites them and their purpose, dubbed by Swafford as the Urmotiv,
normal”>9
though discovered since by the writer to be a predominant structure in countless ways throughout virtually all of Ives’s output, terming it, the Trinity Code.10 The three-note figure, used within a larger seamless integration and development to create an amalgam of virtually all of Ives’s innovations over the years, the
normal”>Scherzo
is a particularly successful continuous stream of evolving thought.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Some of the melodic fragments were meant to color the sound with complex interactions of multiple tonalities and rhythms; others were not necessarily intended to draw explicit attention to themselves, but rather perceived occasionally jumping out of the texture; still more were meant to be heard together in support of the predominant features. Amongst the quotes appearing in the movement in one form or another, many are listed below; if they are not necessarily apparent, it is not because they were always placed as brightly lit signposts:

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 115%”> 

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line-height:115%;tab-stops:.5in”>The Beautiful River; Beulah Land;
normal”> Camptown Races
; Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean; God be with you; Hail Columbia;
normal”> Happy Land
; Home Sweet Home; Hello! Ma Baby;
normal”> In the Sweet Bye and Bye
; Irish Washerwoman; Long, Long Ago; Marching Through Georgia; Martyn;
normal”> Massa’s in de Cold Ground
; Nettleton; Old Black Joe; On the Banks of the Wabash; Pig Town Fling;
normal”> Reveille
; St. Patrick’s Day; Street Beat;
normal”> Tramp, Tramp, Tramp
; Turkey in the Straw; Washington Post March (Sousa); Westminster Chimes; Yankee Doodle.

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 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Differing from Hawthorn, in which it appears just once, the melody, In the Sweet Bye and Bye appears in countless guises and at many more points than listed in the guide, often coincidental to more prominent lines; its uniquely Ivesian context, makes it less than readily recognizable. The hymn’s popularity around the time of the First World War is evident, demonstrated not only by its prevalence in this movement, but also in Ives’s recollection was sung by the entire crowd gathered at Hanover Square in 1915 on the day of the sinking of the Lusitania, inspiring him to write the last movement of the Second Orchestral Set, apparently before the Scherzo.

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line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Kirkpatrick thought the rumbling sounds that open the movement represented the sounds of “an awakening city,” which does seem an apt description; New York had become a large part of Ives’s life at this stage.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Immediately following, a chorale section featuring very obvious quarter-tones in the violins (representing the Pilgrims), might require an open mind for the u
11.0pt;line-height:115%;color:windowtext”>ninitiated. It takes part of its identity from Home, Sweet Home, and sets the tone for things to come. Quoting God Be with You, a flute and solo violin lead into the actual depiction of Hawthorne’s The Celestial Rail-road. Continuing alongside the incoming sonic onslaught, it is one brief instance that does align with the parallel listening that Ives had discussed, even though it becomes deliberately buried quickly into inaudibility beneath the growing onslaught of Ives’s celestial locomotive.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The train is immediately recognizable by its powerful rumbling sounds, and most notably by its whistle (piccolo, flutes and clarinets) blowing loudly at times. Fragments, albeit characteristically transformed almost beyond easy recognition, of the Civil War song, Tramp, Tramp, Tramp in the trombones, punctuate the fabric.
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Ignore”>·    After the first Celestial Railroad outburst, another quarter-tone section follows in the violins. As if oblivious to all that precedes and follows it, the segment is derived from
normal”>In the Sweet Bye and Bye
and Nearer, My God to Thee, still in quiet symbolism of
normal”>
the Pilgrims’ stoic travails.
 line-height:115%;color:red”>

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Bursting in, it is “full steam ahead” on the train—an amazing noise—the travelers mock the pilgrims, drowned out again as the mighty locomotive rushes by.
 line-height:115%;color:red”>

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The pilgrims can be heard again, until the locomotive bursts in—again! After Tramp, Tramp, Tramp reappears, in the high violins another melodic twist emerges: Turkey in the Straw.

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Ignore”>·    A section featuring a jazzy and jumpy clarinet line (based on Camptown Races) seems to denote the clicking of the rail joints; near the end of the section, the flute quotes a drawn-out fragment of “Down in de cornfield,” from Massa’s in de Cold Ground.

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Ignore”>·    The orchestra crashes in again with Hail Columbia, written in a rhythm that seems at odds with all that surrounds it—it is!—followed by a further elaboration of Camptown Races.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:windowtext”>
Ignore”>·    Metrically tangled strains appear variously in the texture: In the Sweet Bye and Bye (violins, clarinets trumpet and trombone), Camptown Races (flutes), and Nettleton (low pizzicato strings).

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:windowtext”>
Ignore”>·    As loud fragments of Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean interrupt —in a common segment with Hawthorne in the Concord Sonata—the music assumes a militaristic character; did Ives have in mind the Civil War? More likely it was the storm clouds of World War I.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Trailing out with a snatch of Columbia, the
115%;color:windowtext”>Gem of the Ocean

line-height:115%;color:windowtext”>by a trombone and cellos, the ending to this section is in a deliberately labored manner.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The violins, tongue in cheek, play a little “salon” music in an interlude (supposedly a depiction of Vanity Fair in the Celestial Rail-road story), meant to reflect what Ives found in poor taste, and had referred to a the “pink teas” of high society; it is constructed in imitative canonic style.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    “Vanity Fair” continues, wafting through a distant haze, against In the Sweet Bye and Bye in a solo (“extra”) viola; the piano emerges dominant in an utterly different musical context.
 115%;color:red”>

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A section based on some ragtime-inspired writing found in Hawthorn appears in the solo trumpet, under a soft quotation again from In the Sweet Bye and Bye in the flutes; the ragtime continues in the woodwinds and trombone, until the flutes and piano take the lead with passagework based on the three-note figure. Underneath, in the low strings and pianos, staggered entries of a fragment of the
normal”>Human Faith Melody
from the Concord Sonata morphs into In the Sweet Bye and Bye.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A musical haze (of building steam?) is punctuated by a tolling clock and Westminster Chimes in the high bells. The trumpets (and the piano set a beat behind) join loudly with a rhythmic line built on a fragment of
normal”>Long, Long Ago
, until—set against a stream of sonorities that have a startlingly, almost “Schönbergian” sound—the high violins take over with a striking variation of Hello! Ma Baby (often considered, likely incorrectly, to be
normal”>Throw out the Lifeline
). Significant to confirming its identity, an almost identical derivation of Hello! Ma Baby can be heard in Study N
115%”>o

line-height:115%”>.
23
11.0pt;line-height:115%”>, after the initially recognizable quote.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Subsequently taken by the trumpets, a brief respite of sorts leads to a strong dotted triplet figure in the violins; fragments of the
normal”>Human Faith Melody
appear in the second trumpet and piano, while the flutes play the refrain “Down in de cornfield,” from
normal”>Massa’s in de Cold Ground.
Under the violins, some of these features might be hard to separate.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Briefly, the violins and piano lead jauntily with another derivation of Hello! Ma Baby; the rhythmic complexity mounts.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    After an interruption of more ragtime in the trombones, the trumpets take the lead. The
normal”>Fate
Motif might be discernible in the clarinets, then trumpets, and further superimposed under the cornets as they play “Down in de cornfield.”
bold”>Additionally, Beulah Land in the trombones punctuates In the Sweet
bold”>Bye and Bye
in the piano, although mere words hardly describe all that is going on across the orchestra!

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A very brief return to the Pilgrims follows with the hymn tune Martyn in the piano (well disguised by the alien tonalities surrounding it), only to be interrupted by a huge explosion in the orchestra. Although the lower trumpets and trombones dominate with Beulah Land, the score is littered with references to In the Sweet Bye and Bye across multiple parts. The tumult culminates in another statement, now blaring, of “Down in de cornfield,” arriving on a vibrant shimmering chord in the strings and piano; “everybody holds,” (a term Ives used in the score of Majority!).

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The chord melts into a sweet violin solo of Beulah Land, against which is set a tangled quarter-tone (!) piano part, and other seemingly unrelated rhythmic textures, again with the hymn Martyn in the (conventionally-tuned) piano. In this instance, Ives was depicting the travelers’ arrival in the Beulah Land of Hawthorne’s tale. Looking across the shimmering waters to the Celestial City, it is a destination they never will reach, because the devil planned to “disgorge” them.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    From here, the music parts ways with the story, and owes its origins much more obviously to the music of Hawthorne, which, as it continues, owes its origins to his much earlier Country Band March (1905?); Turkey in the Straw appears in the violins, viola and bassoon parts, and other quotations superimposed. Amongst the more prominent of these fragments is yet one more reference to Long, Long Ago in the cornet, and even Yankee Doodle in the upper woodwinds—the latter, a premonition of the tune that will eventually resonate across the entire orchestra to lead out of the movement as the ensemble falls apart.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A rapid disintegration corresponds to the travelers waking up with a jolt just before the devil has a chance to act.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The evaporation of the dream also is Ives’s farewell to Danbury, and everything in it. If the music ceases physically, somehow it seems to continue, suspended in mid-air.

 line-height:115%”> 

line-height:115%”>By the time the Scherzo resolves into the peace of the upcoming third movement—a reversion to a simpler spirituality of long ago—Ives had reached the end of the line with the musical idiom of the Scherzo that he had developed and refined over many years. The third movement would serve as Ives’s bridge to the future, as represented by the Finale.

 line-height:115%”> 

 line-height:115%”> 

tab-stops:list .5in”>Movement 3 –
 normal”>Andante moderato

tab-stops:list .5in”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>For this movement, Ives chose to rework an old
normal”> fugue-b
ased movement from his First String Quartet—actually it resembles a double fugue on two primary themes, although the form it takes is not more than an abbreviation of its suggested baroque structure. (Based on imitation, fugues pass the melodic components from one part to another, and develop them according to a formal design.) Because it was written in an entirely different musical style to all that surrounds it in the symphony, the movement raises an interesting specter, because its incorporation occurred well after Ives had rejected Parker’s compositional outlook. It is not always understood, however, that many allusions to the European tradition always remained within the fabric of Ives’s music, further confirming that Ives had not rejected its representation, only a stagnant perpetuation of a culture of which he was not a part. Even this traditionally based form does not sound as if it could possibly have come from across the Atlantic, due to the unique, even unconventional, “Yankee” recycling of an old baroque form.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Historically, having started out just as an exercise, the movement would be reworked as an organ piece (now lost), only to reappear as the first movement of his First String Quartet (1897–1900); after almost two decades of lying dormant, Ives resurrected and rescored it as the last movement added to the symphony and known today, although he was forced to recopy it later (in the 1920s) after much of the score of the symphony was misplaced!
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>If initially the style seems at odds with the tenor and language of the surrounding movements, the glowing tranquility of Ives’s nineteenth century Yale relic serves as the perfect moment of repose, clearing the air between what has just occurred and the profound, “religious” implications of the next movement.

 line-height:115%”> 


115%”>Greenland’s Icy mountains

<Insert IMAGE - Movement 3 - Mountains of Greenland>

Image courtesy Jensbn

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The two primary themes quote familiar hymns of his youth (From Greenland’s Icy Mountains and All Hail the Power
115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> of Jesus’ Name
); the sound is ultimately rapturous, and reflects a time of happy optimism. In addition, Ives apparently paid oblique homage to Bach by borrowing a syncopated (displaced) descending figure, and other material from the
normal”>Toccata and Fugue in D minor
(BWV 538). The quote appears in many guises throughout, sharing common ground also with part of
normal”>All Hail the Power
, the refrain of the hymn that forms the basis of the second theme, a dual purpose with thematic materials seen before in Ives’s music. Much reduced, the ensemble consists just of the string section, with a small woodwind group, solo trombone (or horn), organ and timpani.

 line-height:115%”> 

 line-height:115%”> 

line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

line-height:115%”>Overall, as a relatively straightforward piece of music, Ives’s fugue should not prove troublesome for the listener to follow; its overall outline is as follows:

 line-height:115%”> 

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The cellos establish the character of the movement at the outset with a fragment of
normal”>From Greenland’s Icy Mountains
, which is followed by the usual fugal multiple thematic statements and responses across the ensemble.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Because it poses as a double fugue, the second theme (comprised the refrain from All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name) is announced in a new section by the trombone. Set against the former melody (Greenland) in the violins, soon All Hail is traded off to the upper violins and cellos (playing Greenland), and in other combinations as the fugue unfolds. The descending syncopated beats that appear in the violin line (moving across thirds) are based on the second theme, which also provides the link to the quoted Bach fragment, and is a prominent accompanimental feature throughout the movement.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    With a mighty return of Greenland, a grand pause is reached, followed by developed fragments of All Hail, soon including Greenland fragments, too.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Eventually a grand pedal point (a single low sustained pitch) is reached, consisting of a massive bottom “C”; supporting continued development of All Hail, the music assumes a glowing aura as it continues to climb. (The flute plays something very similar to part of the
#000000”>bass line in
normal”>Battle Hymn of the Republic
!) There follows a brief deflation of the dramatic tension.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The impetus resumes, this time leading through strident writing and massive chords to a truly ecstatic cadence and further pause.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    With the appearance of the Stretto (the rapid compounding of thematic entrances), the conclusion of the fugue seems near. It is built on Greenland, and reaches a high point, setting up the conclusion.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·   
115%”>Greenland
returns in augmented form (stretched rhythmically into longer notes), in a majestic, stately summation of all that has taken place, along with the superimposition of another hymn, I Hear thy Welcome Voice, in the clarinet.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The
normal”>coda
features a surprising, new thematic entrance in the trombone, and leads to the conclusion. It is built on the middle part of the melody, Joy to the World, though it appears here at half the normal speed. As an addition to the original string quartet version, the placement here of this particular melodic fragment (Ives had used this same material in the Second Symphony, also emanating from his early period—further tying it to these years) surely was symbolic of Ives’s state of mind at the time, one that was still charged with optimism for a better world.

 line-height:115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Contrary to some assertions, Ives must have felt true joy in his life at the time he scored the movement for the symphony (1916); did he believe his political passions and ideals had a chance of becoming reality after the dark clouds of war (World War I) had receded? Perhaps instead reflecting on his father’s untimely departure into eternity,
line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> the third movement captures a moment of ecstatic hope, as if in preparation for cutting his own cords to the past for a future at peace with the outside world.

 line-height:115%”> 

 line-height:115%”> 


115%”>Movement 4
Finale

 

<Insert IMAGE - Movement 4>

"Baskerville Old Face"”>Image courtesy NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

 line-height:115%”> 

 line-height:115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>This movement delineates Ives’s past from his future; as the beginning of his ultimate journey, it travels directly to the
normal”>Universe Symphony
; having many traits in common, it surely follows where the movement leaves off. The crowning glory of the Fourth Symphony, even Ives’s output to date, the Finale is one of the most extraordinarily spiritual, powerful and overwhelming pieces of music conceived during the twentieth century—it is Ives’s benediction and expression of oneness with all mankind. Unsurprisingly, it shares some roots with part of an earlier work, the lost Memorial Slow March for organ (1901), in which the singing of
normal”>Nearer, My God To Thee
at a camp meeting had stayed with him, contributing now to the processional character of the later part of the movement. Although Bethany seems ever present, Ives utilized the material in a constantly metamorphic state, seeming to dominate the musical fabric throughout; its increasing importance to Ives over a period of years never more evident. Thus, the futuristic Finale grew out of a distant memory; Ives’s attempt to recreate it at this emotional high point was as much to do with recalling the sound itself as it was the profound impact it had on him.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>The definitive version of the Finale had to wait until 1944 with the deciphering of some remaining details in the quoted birdcalls—previously considered indecipherable. These inclusions effectively extend the embrace to all creation, and are thought to have been the result of flocks of birds in communal song at Ives’s West Redding homestead. Although Ives’s failing eyesight prevented his formal approval of the score, Ives trusted his friend, John Becker’s, judgment intimately; it is hard to imagine that the edition is not precisely one he would have ordained. The version from 1923 scarcely differed in other respects.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>More than in the Scherzo, it is here that true parallel listening elements, similar to those in the Universe Symphony, really would appear in earnest. Sonorities resulting from multiple lines of like character and (often) tonalities, but different alignments within a larger tonal context, tie them to those of the latter work. Thus, although the counterpoint is exceedingly complex to a degree seldom encountered in Ives’s earlier music, it is the
normal”>homogeneity
of line comprising them that differs from anything encountered in the Scherzo. Much closer to that found in the Universe Symphony, the counterpoint results in vaguer, though more highly colored effects that are less demanding of precise alignments between the other parts. The same qualities are transferred, too, into the quotes, being generally less clearly outlined and more compounded than those found in the other movements. More subtly dispersed in the texture, too, it is clear that Ives’s creative needs were rapidly outgrowing the use of any type of vernacular material, though i
line-height:115%”>t is significant to note that the
normal”>Bethany
would be the only quoted melody (with the exception of
line-height:115%;color:windowtext”>three other less significant quotations) that he would carry into his ultimate destination in the Universe Symphony. In both works, generally, he chose to quote just the refrain of the melody—its high point. Constructed, thus, of a more ethereal and subtle language, Ives’s music now seems to reach for another place. With questions of existence being much on Ives’s mind as he wrote it, the movement concludes, leaving the listener hanging in space, as it wafts and recedes far into the distance. The journey to the stars under way, Ives’s music has never seemed more profound, more religious, better expressed; even he knew it.
 normal”>11

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
115%”>Remarkably, too, just as in the Universe Symphony, a battery of percussion plays in its own independent speed and context throughout the movement, although here, it is joined by occasional tuned instrumental lines (in the piano, oboe, clarinet) at a few points. Thus Ives’s words describing “parallel listening” in the
normal”>Scherzo
would have been more apt in this colossus of powerful washes of ethereal color over stark bass lines, splashed with ill-defined textures throughout the orchestra, built upon the more massive foundations of its original religious inspiration.

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

text-indent:.25in;line-height:115%”>
 115%”> 

line-height:115%”>Listeners’ guide

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    With the percussion battery starting the movement in a gentle fashion, and in its own independent speed (twice the basic tempo of the remainder of the orchestra) and meter (fundamentally pitting four divisions of the larger rhythmic unit against three)—truly a harbinger of things to come in the next symphonythe contemplation of the unstoppable march of time has been set. Like a cosmic, processional “street beat” with its pulse-like rhythm in the snare drum, the percussion group continues throughout the entire movement, just as does the vast percussion orchestra in the Universe Symphony. (See Chapters 12 & 13.)

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A quotation from
normal”>Nearer, My God To Thee
(from the middle portion of the melody) follows in the basses, mutating into the opening notes from the Prelude (first movement), although here, it is dark and mysterious instead of dramatic.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The brooding opening in the full string section leads into a brief reflection of material that also is based on Bethany,
normal”>
easily lost behind the ascending trumpet and horn parts. Immediately tying into a recognizable reappearance of the “glory beaming star,” now it is played by five distant violins, a distant choir and harp, still outlining Bethany, too.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The basses lead again, building on the opening notes of the Prelude, inverted (again reinforcing the connection to
normal”>Bethany
); the orchestra takes it further.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The “glory-beaming star” continues much enlarged in sound, trailing off into a distant invocation of Dorrnance; the music sounds literally as if floating Heavenward, as it develops substantially.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A strong figurative line in the violas tends to obscure a low variant of Bethany in the first violins, followed much more audibly in solo trumpet.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Amongst the most ethereal sounds Ives would ever write, another (well-disguised) setting of
normal”>Bethany
in the flute and oboe, as well as a hint of Martyn in the second violins are effectively buried in the larger sonic texture.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Suddenly, an energized, urgent awakening through the orchestra takes on nervous, divergent rhythmic lines, built on a fragment of Dorrnance (three notes of the concluding bars). The extraordinary power of the jagged lower descending lines, set strikingly against the tangled and rhythmically marked upper lines is an exhilarating and uniquely original musical treatment.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    In a short interlude, the flute and piccolo take the lead (birdcalls), ties into another brief “glory-beaming star” fragment
"Times New Roman"”>accompanied by the strings, as they intrude with moments in quarter-tones amidst another variant and
line-height:115%”> fragment of Bethany.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    More truly otherworldly music follows, a bridge between segments, featuring a chromatically meandering upper violin part superimposed on a remnant of the
normal”>Missionary Chant
; the suggestion of static writing quickly dissipates with the interactions of the parts, and leads to the section presumed to have been modeled on the lost Memorial Slow March.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The
normal”>Memorial March
section, built collectively on
normal”>Bethany
blended with Missionary Ch
line-height:115%;color:windowtext”>ant

line-height:115%;color:windowtext”>and Dorrnance, begins prominently in the trumpet and horn. Even the four notes of the
normal”>Fate
motif were worked into the primary thematic component.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The bass lines, however, begin an evolving cycle that persists in various guises until the end of the movement; built from descending scales, the range from an octave shrinks as the music builds, cycle by cycle, until spanning only a major third.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Reaching a crescendo at the triumphant high point of the movement, the bass line once again occupies a full octave, its rapid evolution and periodic faster stepwise movement breaking the cycle; the melodic elements are still developed from the same three hymns, erupting in near ecstatic celebration.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Mighty Wagnerian chords lead to the dramatic and powerful climax; from Ives’s words about the comparable shared passage on the sketch of the Second String Quartet (walking
115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>“up the mountain side to view the firmament!”)
line-height:115%”>, his cosmic visions are clear. The descending cyclic scale is now chromatic and spans only a minor third.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A short connecting section emerging out of the sustained chord that completes the climax is follows a dialog between flute and oboe (birdcalls again), as the “glory-beaming star” shimmers in the distance.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A glowing segment reflects utter peace and harmony; Ives had glimpsed his place in the cosmos. The bass cycle has gently resumed, a step higher, to assume its original identity; floating within this section also are fragments of Missionary Chant, St. Hilda, Martyn, and
normal”> Dorrnance
; all blending tonally, they seem to reinforce a cosmic unity.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Drifting towards eternity, the chorus enters with counterpoint built from wordless variants of
normal”>Bethany
, assuming increasing significance as the orchestra thins out and recedes. Ultimately the chorus itself floats into eternity, as the bass cycle shrinks to hover over a major third, and the remnants of the “glory-beaming star” seeming to imply pendulum of a ticking clock. As the music falls away, all that remains is just the percussion battery trailing off into nothing and the depths of space.

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115%”>With its unique originality, powerful conception, awesome sound, and telling spirituality, the magic of Ives’s imagination and instrumental coloration seems never more from some otherworld place than here; Ives had set his course for the stars. There was nothing left to do but to write the Universe Symphony.

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REFERENCES

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line-height:115%”>1.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Vivian Perlis, Charles Ives Remembered, an Oral History (University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 1974), 155–62.

line-height:115%”>2.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Bernard Herrmann, “Four Symphonies of Charles Ives,” Modern Music, 22 (May-June 1945): 215-222 (reprinted in Charles Ives and his World, ed. J. Peter Burkholder, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ), 394–402.

line-height:115%”>3.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Perlis, 142.

line-height:115%”>4.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Charles Ives, “A Conductor’s Note,” New Music, San Francisco, CA (January 1929).

line-height:115%”>5.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Charles E. Ives, Memos, ed. John Kirkpatrick (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972), 67.

line-height:115%”>6.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Philip Lambert, The Music of Charles Ives (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1997), 149 & 227.

line-height:115%”>7.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”> Gayle Sherwood Magee,
normal”>Charles Ives Reconsidered
, (University of Illinois Press, Chicago, IL, 2008), 157.

line-height:115%”>8.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Stuart Feder, “Charles Ives: ‘My Father’s Song,’ a Psychoanalytic Biography” (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1992), 277–80.

line-height:115%”>9.
10.0pt;line-height:115%”>Jan Swafford, Charles Ives: A Life with Music  (W.W. Norton & Co., 1996), 351.


normal”>10.
Antony Cooke,
normal”>Charles Ives’s Musical Universe
(Infinity Publishing, Conshohocken, PA, 2015), 61.


normal”>11.
Ives,
normal”>Memos
, 66.



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 115%”>CHAPTER 11


115%”>The Universe Symphony

 


12.0pt;line-height:115%”>George Ives once told his son:

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>“You won't get a wild, heroic

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"Times New Roman"”> on pretty little sounds
"Times New Roman"”>.”1


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NASA/courtesy of nasaimages.org

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line-height:115%”>And so to the final destination: the Universe Symphony, Ives’s ultimate masterpiece, a work that reaches across time without revisions, because it was never fully organized, or laid out in any complete form; that task would have to wait until decades after his death, and upon the work of others. The work, thus, exists, just as it was left in the original sketches, unless one should include, to paraphrase Cowell, “a note or two added occasionally up until the time he died.” Realizations of the materials only became possible over time through the passion, skills, and diligence of others. The “profusion of confusion” that Ives left in his wake would require heroic efforts and riddle solving to produce a work of concert-ready music. However, only one of just three attempts made would succeed in finding a roadmap for the totality of the symphony that Ives had envisioned. Utilizing all of the sketch materials, it would result in a “realization” of the complete work—as officially designated, since Ives was not around to sanction it. The others remain only partial at best, and re-compositions at worst.

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line-height:115%”>Ives’s epic symphony, venturing far into space, was to be his magnum opus, representing in sound his view of the cosmos, the vast skies above embracing the past and future, humanity, spirituality and eternity; it was to be a larger view of religiosity as seen through the Transcendentalist experience—and Ives’s destination amongst the stars. However, the first encounter with any of the Universe Symphony realizations might leave one bewildered and likely to put it aside; it is an avant-garde composition by any standards. However, the music possesses a strangely captivating lure that reels the listener back for “just one more” hearing. Yielding to the lure, Ives’s universe challenges one’s perceptions, awareness and sensory boundaries. Such magnetism cannot be claimed necessarily for most unfamiliar avant-garde compositions; if they seem equally inaccessible at first blush, likely the listener will not return to them.

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line-height:115%”>Ives dreamed up many of his most profound musical visions at a number of magnificent and serene locations within the Adirondacks (in upstate New York). Away from the hustle of New York, these places were within relatively easy reach (a day’s travel) of the big city. Many of Ives’s favorite haunts within the region, such as Saranac Lake, Elk Lakes and Keene Valley would trigger or enrich his most inspired masterworks. Mark Tucker,2 documented that Ives’s time in the Adirondacks Ives played a formative role in the Three Page Sonata, Concord Sonata, Robert Browning Overture, parts of the Third and Fourth Symphonies, Second Orchestral Set, many songs and chamber works, and most ultimately, the concept and initial sketches for the otherworldly Universe Symphony.

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Adirondack skies and mountains

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Image AC

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line-height:115%”>Ives’s last visit to the Adirondacks during the fall of 1915 gave him the idea for the symphony, although what he envisaged was an expansion of an idea preserved in a few sketches that dated from as early as 1911. The awe-inspiring view of the landscape and skies high on the Keene Valley plateau would lead him to write its equivalent in music: a colossus as cosmic in scale as it was in scope. The symphony finally materialized into concrete form with many detailed sketches—some nearly complete, others perplexingly less, and still more scantily laid out—as well as descriptive instructions and prose written all over them. By 1916, Ives had completed the sketch score of most the first section (Section A), adding segments to it over the succeeding next few years.

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line-height:115%”>The late David Porter theorized that Ives might have been re-inspired to pick up the dormant symphony again following Hubble’s announcement in 1923 that the universe was comprised of multiple island universes just like the Milky Way. Indeed, the later materials seem more closely aligned with the modern universe than many of the earlier sketches. The universe, though still seeming overwhelmingly large when Ives conceived the symphony, was thought nevertheless to exist wholly within the boundaries of the Milky Way. Thus, in 1915/1916, Hubble had not yet separated the universe into other galaxies. In 1922–23 he would do so, when those mysterious nebulae turned out to be comprised of billions of separate stars, proving they were island universes—other Milky Ways —in their own right! Nobody previously had the slightest notion of the true and terrifying, even indefinable, vastness of the universe known today, in which billions of galaxies exist!

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line-height:115%”>Not insignificantly, too, 1923 also corresponds to Ives’s forty-ninth year, that of his father’s death, and perhaps was the final trigger for the symphony’s reawakening. The new plan from 1923 included three main sections with a prelude to each; many additional substantial, if less fully sketched and ordered sketches date from this time. Thus, the symphony expanded from a one-movement work into a far-reaching three-section monument, to be played in continuous succession. If it seemed more akin to the universe of Hubble than that of the classical astronomers who had preceded him, its perspectives, nevertheless still seem partly steeped in the nineteenth century, though they were expressed in an idiom aligned with the twentieth, even beyond. Remarkably, Ives seemed to have his feet firmly planted in multiple centuries! If in Ives’s universe, the Earth remained firmly at its center, musically it crossed the cosmos.

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line-height:115%”>In his descriptions of the symphony, Ives broached the crystallization of a compositional technique he had been developing for years—parallel listening. He had used virtually the identical use of words in his descriptions of the Scherzo in his prior Fourth Symphony, though had added them in the conductor’s note in 1927 after writing virtually all of the Universe Symphony sketches (see Chapter 10). Here, in the same exact terms, Ives commented on the multiple levels of the music: being aware of all of them while focusing on just one at a time. Comparing the idea to looking at the skies while remaining conscious of the landscape below, or vice versa, it required parallel listening.3 Now, in its ultimate context, finally these words take on real descriptive meaning. Ives would challenge the listener to follow him through a complex maze of competing and separate musical entities, which included the representation of the energy of the universe: a mighty percussion orchestra intoning a kind of cosmic heartbeat as a backdrop, featuring constantly changing variables in cyclic waves within definable divisions of time. The “Pulse of the Cosmos” would continue throughout the symphony, its waveforms timed to coincide with the orchestral drama above.

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line-height:115%”>The challenge for the listener

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line-height:115%”>Unfortunately for the casual listener, this monumental work also is profoundly perplexing; without some degree of serious immersion, its mysteries are likely to remain out of reach. Even after several hearings, it is not easily grasped—although, the more one knows how to listen to it, what to look for and what it represents, many of the sonic manifestations of its extraordinary underlying code are unlocked. If the symphony seems difficult to fathom, it is because virtually all the familiar, or expected. aural handrails the listener might be accustomed to leaning upon have been replaced by other, wholly unfamiliar handrails. Ives had set a course in uncharted space that makes normal musical comparisons and reference points largely absent, including melodic content and orchestral textures. If the music would have seemed beyond all comprehension at the time it was written, indeed, it is not easy to fathom even now, a century after Ives dreamed it up. Fortunately, modern listeners have become increasingly accustomed to various types aural “assaults”—good and bad—so perhaps they might be open at least to the possibility of experiencing something new. Regardless, the Universe Symphony poses so many aural demands, even assuming the most open of minds, that early and easy comprehension is unlikely. Rather, the music offers instead a wealth of continuing revelations, even after the work has become as familiar and comfortable as an old shoe. In finally leaving Danbury behind, Ives’s Transcendentalism now would be transported to its natural place in the cosmos.

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line-height:115%”>Significantly, as Michael Berest noted in his 2005 article,4 musical quotes are largely absent, although he missed many oblique, but significant, references to the hymn, Nearer, my God to Thee, early, middle and late in the symphony, plus a reference to In the Sweet Bye and Bye—hugely appropriate in the spiritual context of Ives’s later music—and more still from Erie (What a Friend We Have in Jesus). There is also one small reference to Massa’s in de Cold Ground (Section A), which seems odd in this context, especially since Ives at last had escaped the pull of Earth’s more populist musical gravity. However its otherwise unlikely context might make sense in light of its prominence in the final movement of the Concord Sonata.*

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line-height:115%”>*Of those quotes, in Section A, perhaps the listener might catch most readily the first of a couple of little snatches from the refrain of Nearer, my God to Thee, looming out of the texture in the solo trumpet and clarinet lines. Another from the same part of the melody can be found in the flute parts in the coda of Section B, and again extensively in the coda of Section C. As much as this particular hymn represented Ives’s ultimate musical, spiritual and cosmic connection, it is also a unifying thread in the symphony, as well as a direct link with the Finale of the Fourth Symphony. See Chapter 13 and Appendix 2 for more discussion.

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line-height:115%”>From Ives’s own description, the Universe Symphony was not conceived as music in the conventional sense. Because he described it as a representation of the universe in “tones,” the implication was that extended linear sonorities, spatial sounds and far-reaching textures were primary ingredients, rather than melody, even less the symbolically and rhythmically tangled web of the Scherzo in the Fourth Symphony. That is not to say that the music is not exceedingly complex; however, Ives was exploring the new larger universe of his imagination. Although Ives never thought twice about mixing and matching anything that suited his purpose—as witnessed in the Fourth Symphony—the Universe Symphony seems uncharacteristically consistent in style and idiom, though it does crystallize to come together in the Emersonian mold. As far as its form was concerned, over his output, Ives applied the term “symphony” increasingly loosely—never more so than in the Universe Symphony—and thus it has far less in common with its European counterparts than does even the Fourth Symphony—except in the more general sense of being a large-scale orchestral structure.

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line-height:115%”>Initially, Ives’s Universe might sound totally atonal, devoid even of the slightest connection to musical instinct. Unlike Arnold Schönberg, however, Ives did not set out deliberately to avoid tonality. The sketches frequently notate near-standard chords, albeit highly expanded or differently constructed; some sketches even use conventional shorthand chord symbols. Eventually the listener anticipates the strong pulls of different key centers throughout the work; each established larger tonality leads to the next in anticipated and logical order, even as other competing entities are in play simultaneously.

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line-height:115%”>Stuart Feder seemed to miss the clear dependence on creativity in the Universe Symphony, and though comparing it with the later developments of Schönberg,5 Feder’s critique was not meant favorably. Instead, he considered that Ives increasingly was relying on mechanical formulae to compensate for failing creativity, which, in turn, he linked to an unfounded case of mental disorder in order to justify the many false premises of his book. Feder failed to note that such methodology was hardly new to Ives; 12-tone rows can be found in The Fourth of July, for example. More remarkable is that countless earlier works feature them, too, if not quite with such deliberation to push the musical envelope to the new aural extremes found in the Universe Symphony, in which he merely took the ideas further.6 The Universe Symphony, however, contains many other types of systematic device than found elsewhere, weaving in and out of the texture for the very specific purpose of creating new sonic territory. One does not find anything so predictable as mere formulaic manipulations of 12-tone rows in the Universe Symphony, or in any other work by Ives for that matter. Rossiter,7 already had discussed Ives’s approach towards 12-tone writing, correctly pointing out that Ives saw no value in imposing mathematical patterned successions of notes within music, other than for specific and limited atonal effect. Would Feder have proposed that Franz Liszt similarly had experienced mental decline, too, for having used what was probably the first 12-tone row in history to open his Faust Symphony of 1857?

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line-height:115%”>However, there was no need for any commentary on the topic, because Ives had addressed it long ago; in a footnote on a rejected page of the orchestrated version of his song The Masses (also known as Majority), Ives himself would use Feder’s term “formulaic” to denounce the mechanical usage of the 12-tone concepts that would be developed in dodecaphonic musical composition. Ives considered that although such methods had their place in totality, they were “a weak substitute for inspiration.” And conspicuously, tonal backbones seem always buried deep within Ives’s music, diametrically opposite to that of Schönberg, especially philosophically. On the same page of The Masses, there is also a curious choice of words that might point to the mindset that had led Ives to the Universe Symphony. After he directed that the players adopt an aleatoric (random) succession of the twelve named semitones of an octave—indeed, it is a 12-tone row—he specified that each player hold the last one, directing each to “find his star.” Ives made similar references to stars, such as in Essays Before a Sonata, his remarks about Emerson “on the lookout for the trail of his star,” (see Preface), and the frequent celestial references amongst his music (even that “glory beaming star” in the setting of Watchman), implying that it is no idle speculation that his outlook was couched in cosmic terms.

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line-height:115%”>Out of all of Ives’s catalog, it seems only the Universe Symphony has cast such pronounced and lengthy shadows, or raised the protective ire of so many who still insist that it be allowed to remain incomplete and unfinished, and that many sketches were lost, even spirited away by composer and Ives champion Henry Cowell. For these people, Ives’s final masterpiece must always remain “unfinishable”: the great “what if” symphony. It is easy to use the scenario to continue to hang around Ives’s head the specter of endless tinkering, even fudging its “specs” in order to revamp, even recreate, his image. Thus, the symphony has been used to reinforcements the revisionist line that Ives was less than credible, and also that Cowell was as much behind the “scam” as Ives himself.

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Why Ives did not finish the symphony, and the “Ives Legend”

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line-height:115%”>After his return to the Universe Symphony in 1923, Ives found himself increasingly unable to organize or assemble the collective new and old materials into a work ready for performance. And even though he did try his hand at a few retrospective compositions later, he ran aground, finding he could not go on. Even taking into account of the possible reasons, one way or the other he had reached the end of the road, and regretted to his dying day that he was unable to muster the energy or stamina to complete his epic symphony. His typist (until 1951) remarked on his continuing fascination with it, and that he was heard occasionally muttering “if only” sentiments, but by then it was far too late.8

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line-height:115%”>Contributing to Ives’s inability to complete the symphony, there are several clearly discernible factors. Ives was suffering from accelerating and compounding health issues: the accumulated damage from years of diabetes before treatment was available, cataracts accelerated as a consequence even after treatment was available, possible Addison’s disease that might have caused the sporadic shaking in his hands that made writing especially difficult, and a type of anxiety that resulted in bouts of nervous exhaustion at the least provocation. Personally, Ives’s old bullish optimism had taken on water following the trauma of World War I and the defeat of his political ideals; his political champion, Woodrow Wilson, had let him down. He simply had run out of steam—presumably partly due, too, largely to having burned two sizable candles (business and music) at both ends—the physical capabilities to complete a giant project such as the Universe Symphony were largely spent.

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line-height:115%”>However, Ives never gave up on regaining the strength to do it, so defeat was not amongst his sentiments. Indeed, Ives left the impression that the fundamentals of the Universe Symphony were basically in place. In 1931 (in Memos),9 and pivotal to the discussion, Ives commented upon taking the time to finish the score during the upcoming summer (of 1932). Even though he commented that the work had not yet been completed, the inference of his words was that the symphony existed in large degree. He did not mention the additions made to his sketches as late as 1923, or even any beyond, only referencing Section A from 1916. However, parts of the last (Section C) were already laid out, too, in near complete detail at that time. Thus, during the first part of the 1920s, Ives hurriedly put together the conclusion of Section A, and a more satisfactory opening; to a lesser degree of completion, he composed significant amounts of Section B and more sketchy materials to Section C, though hardly left in a structurally finished state—despite a wealth of information being supplied for their completion.

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line-height:115%”> Other clear impressions of Ives’s general physical condition can be found in his own words;10 after his serious illness in 1918, it was all he could do just to handle the pressure of his office work, something that sapped the energy for the creative work he once did routinely late during the evening and on into the night.11 His condition also is recounted in the words of others, especially those documented by Vivian Perlis.12 An arduous task such as anything on the scale of completing this colossal symphony, especially one requiring such intense creative decisions, indeed would be overwhelming to anyone in Ives’s condition. His output already had been more than most composers could hope to produce over an entire lifetime. Ives’s frenetic pace of work probably was partly due to reflection of his father’s early demise, which probably caused him to see himself in a race against time during his most productive years; it must be factored into his ultimate exhausted state of being.

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line-height:115%”>Ives’s time at the office was far reduced during the 1920’s. During these years, he tried to put his music into some kind of order, produced the publications of the Concord Sonata and 114 Songs, as well as rewriting the Scherzo of the Fourth Symphony, attempting to make a shorter piano work—the Concord Suite—of which The Celestial Railroad apparently was to be a part. He attempted some new compositions, though most of them never made it far towards completion, nor broke new ground. By the time Ives fully retired from business in 1930, and finally had access to insulin, he had been fighting the effects of untreated diabetes for twelve years, and amazingly, had managed to survive. Even the little remaining strength available to him was fading, his creative efforts centering on adapting Three Places in New England for chamber orchestra in 1929, and fully scoring Thanksgiving in 1931/32. However, the Universe Symphony remained too grand a proposition. Though Ives’s precarious health factors must be taken into account in his failure to leave the Universe Symphony as a completed work, even the main reasons he never made a final fully scored version. However, the writer considers it was not likely the primarily reason he stopped composing, nor that he would never go beyond the symphony in scope.

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line-height:115%”>It seems unfortunate that ultimately the Universe Symphony has been allowed—even encouraged—to reach the mythical status that never it had been meant to be finished, a byproduct of what has become known as the “Ives Legend,” something of a caricature of the reality (see Appendix 2). The longer the symphony stood incomplete, the larger its myth grew. No doubt due to having discounted the real possibility that Ives wished to finish it, this part of the legend was not laid to rest by most of those in a position to dispel it. Outside officially sanctioned circles, it seemed there was little enthusiasm to grant official blessing for a posthumous collaborator to complete it. Thus, the mythical work was supposed to languish and retain its unattainable status into eternity, deeply buried under the well-established aura of being something that existed only in the composer’s mind.

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line-height:115%”>If Ives himself had been responsible for the inflated descriptions of all that the symphony had been supposed to, it was not from anything he committed to writing. It is possible, of course, that once he realized that his health and creative strength would not allow him to put his masterwork into completed form, from here on out, his vision of it would expand like the universe itself, with ever-grander projections increasingly reflecting his inability to deliver. If such thoughts were those he expressed to others, better, perhaps, that it should be the “unattainable masterwork” than for him to acknowledge defeat. Regardless, in the 1940’s, Ives asked Henry Cowell, to help him finish it, which does not sound like someone convinced that it was beyond completion. (Cowell had meticulously assembled some of Ives’s other music from sketches.) Daunted by the task, Cowell declined, and thus ultimately and unfortunately, the mythic symphony became the stuff of folklore, regrettably finding support amongst the most reliable of authorities. However, here is no evidence whatsoever that Cowell was a willing participant, even the creator, in the new projections of the symphony, a malicious accusation in absentia that had even this writer once towing the line of “composer as liar.”

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line-height:115%”>The extravagant descriptions of multiple orchestras (as many as fifteen), and even a chorus of 2,500 scattered around numerous mountaintops and valleys, did date, however, from the period of association with Henry Cowell; indeed, Cowell himself related them in his book, Charles Ives and his Music (Da Capo, New York, 1955). However, the misunderstanding of Ives’s own description appears to be the culprits, rather than deliberate exaggerations. For example, on one of the sketches of the symphony, Ives described the division of the orchestra into fifteen “continents,” so that is where that part of the mystery of multiple orchestras originated. By the time of his involvement with Henry Cowell, Ives had already deteriorated into the condition whereby completion of the masterwork had become totally unrealistic. In fact, the final nail in the coffin already had taken place; in 1927 Ives informed Harmony, his wife, that he was unable to compose anymore; the die was cast.13 With each retelling by Ives enthusiasts, it seems the story continued to grow about a work so monumental in concept, so unfathomable in design, so vast in scope, that no one person, perhaps not even any group of persons could possibly hope to see it through to fruition. Gargantuan choirs and orchestras sprouted like new shoots in springtime, and the myth persists in spite of itself.

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Charles Ives in 1947

<Insert IMAGE - Portrait of Charles Ives, 1947>

 Photo by Frank Gerratana

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line-height:115%”>Significantly, clear indications on Ives’s more detailed sketches detail an orchestral force far from such inflated dimensions; in fact, the precise instrumentation is listed and specified on Ives’s sketch score (Neg. = q3027). These forces are surprisingly modest, in light of the image the symphony has attained—and in some ways (for example, the string section) less formidable than even those of the Fourth Symphony that preceded it. The Universe orchestra amounts to fewer than seventh-five players at most, although this does include nine flutes and a minimum of thirteen percussionists! The sounds Ives had in mind were unique, even to him. Certainly, inflated projections of the symphony have played well into the hands of those attempting to recast Ives in some officially sanctioned image, as well as to bring down his legend. Blaming all manner of exaggerations and falsehoods on Cowell—indeed, the primary fabric of the “Ives Legend”—has become very fashionable.

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line-height:115%”>Remarkably, even at this late period of time, in her 2008 book,14 Gayle Sherwood Magee once again recycled the myth of the symphony’s unfinishability, having dissected and re-formulated the “Ives Legend” into musicological conformity. Although demolishing it at every level, it was only here that she elected to buy into it, hook, line and sinker. Magee also dated most of the surviving materials to after 1923, a convenient, though recklessly, inaccurate assertion, because the origins of most of them clearly emerged as early as 1911, and as late as 1923; after that time, the late materials often are incomplete “patches,” of indeterminate assignment in the later sections, or compounded reworkings of a few materials started in earlier years. Magee’s assertion that Ives picked up the symphony and sketched most of it after 1923 in order to become accepted into the avant-garde scene in New York is as unsupportable as it is historically inaccurate and misleading, since the primary conception of the symphony far predates this time, the bulk being clearly linked to Ives’s last stay in the Adirondacks (in 1915).

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line-height:115%”>The sketches from 1923, or perhaps just a little beyond, mark the end of the line for Ives’s creative vision; they reveal a considerable struggle of purpose, even more, of physical strength. Beyond these efforts, any other compositions from here on out would be rather tired regressions to earlier musical language. That the symphony would go no further relates no more to Ives’s failing health and energies, than it does a likely awareness that he had indeed managed put his thoughts down with sufficient clarity to return to the symphony later when he felt “better,” allusions to his hopes for an improved state of health indeed cropping up in his writings. Could it be, therefore, that Ives might have considered the symphony largely done? Of course, the state of renewed vigor Ives had hoped for never materialized.

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line-height:115%”>Magee asserted that Ives might have been influenced by the scope of Scriabin’s Mysterium; it is claimed Ives was familiar with his piano music. However, Mysterium was never finished and would have been little known in America even in the 1920’s. More likely Ives’s vision for his symphony was conceived independently. Feder would read other meanings into the carefully descriptive words Ives had written directly on his Universe Symphony sketches.15 In trying to tie together a kind of mental decline and the incomplete Universe Symphony,16 Feder described the sketches as relying more on words than actual musical notation.17 This is anything but true; just as there is musical notation in spades. Ives always had peppered his sketches and scores with liberal quantities of words, humor and sarcasm. Worse, having decried the Cowell-Ives Legend, Feder, again like Magee, further propagated its greatest misstatement—that it was Ives’s intention never to complete it!

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line-height:115%”>The record belies Feder’s cavalier charge of mental incompetence. Until near the very end of Ives’s life, and especially in light of his considerable pianistic virtuosity (dynamically on display still in recordings made as late as 1943),18 even the descriptions of his work in preparing the 1947 Second Edition of the Concord Sonata,19 there is no trace of mental disorder. Many depictions of Ives by those having firsthand contact with him described his vigorous and engaging mind well into late in life. Brewster Ives’s commentary made it quite clear that his uncle retained a vital mind well into his late years, also as reported by many others, including John Kirkpatrick, Monique Schmitz Leduc, Lou Harrison and Luemily Ryder.20 Howard Taubman visited him in 1949; in his account,21 there is nothing that indicates anything other than a figure fully engaged, energetic in character, and spirited in persona; in short, the recognizable Ives seems still to have been largely intact even at that late date. Thus Feder’s theory is perilously flawed, a figment of his revisionist imagination.

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line-height:115%”>As for Feder’s assertions that Ives was guilty of retreating into “rants,” certainly Ives had his passions that flared when provoked. Diagnosis: normal. In this writer’s view, the only words truly fitting Feder’s description, or that revealed any degree of real angst, occurred during the later section of Memos, entitled Memories.22 Words of an ailing semi-invalid who had endured a lifetime of disrespect, one can read far too much into them. As pent-up feelings that had festered for years, they really ought to be seen for what they are, signifying no dark psyche, and are remarkably restrained for the most part—philosophical, even funny at times, especially regarding his passionately held social/political views, and those about the state of music in his day.

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115%”>Feder attempted to support his case with summations of Ives’s abilities as a writer in Essays before a Sonata, and more surprisingly, Memos. Although Ives’s words cannot possibly be held to the same standards as those used to judge his music, doing so also does Ives grave injustice! Ives’s writing is more effective than Feder was prepared to grant, revealing insights into his personal outlook and values, as well as the true creative spark that set him apart; further, they are more engaging and authentic than anything Feder had written. As it happens, Ives had written extensively within the insurance business, not as an author of books, but rather, in countless printed guidelines, articles, speeches for others, business outlines and correspondence; in this capacity he was widely known, even legendary, in the life insurance industry, having largely resurrected it from terminal collapse.

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line-height:115%”>Essays

115%”> is, in every respect, the work of a practiced communicator, in many ways a lot better as literature, too, than Feder allowed, and it is hardly surprising that Ives would have wished to leave behind some of his own thoughts about music and life. Furthermore, Essays dates from the time of Ives’s greatest creativity, so it is even harder to make a case that it represents a time of decline. Memos
italic”>, on the other hand, was not conceived as a literary work as such, but as a simple recounting of his memories concerning all things connected to his music—it reads far more like answers to questions than a work of prose, the collection of reminiscences being the result of dictations, not literary writings. Most telling in Memos
italic”>, however, is Ives in 1931: totally engaged mental acuity, humor and energy. The even more abrasive assertions by Maynard Solomon—the polarizing figure at the heart of three decades of remodeling Ives in a more musicologically “valid” image—that Ives’s words were shallow efforts to recreate his image appear to speak more to his (Solomon’s) efforts to be accepted within the musicological community than they do to truth, fairness, or respect towards one who needed no such personal elevation (see Appendix1).

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line-height:115%”>The real purpose behind the words

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line-height:115%”>It is not difficult to recognize that Ives’s verbal notations in the Universe Symphony sketches were put there to serve as signposts for those times when he would return to it; as his ultimate musical vision, the Universe Symphony demanded detailed notes. More than for Ives’s purposes, however, they provided something tangible for others to comprehend—in the event he was unable to complete the work himself—exactly what he referenced in Memos.23 Because he harbored increasing doubts about his ability to do so, he took the trouble, at least, to leave what he considered was a recipe of sorts, and a clear statement of their purpose.

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line-height:115%”>However, perhaps it is now reasonable to deduce that the overriding factor behind Ives’s inability to continue to compose, aside from his flagging health and energies to undertake large-scale projects, was that he no longer had anything left to say. In his 2005 article,4 Michael Berest was perhaps the first to proffer this speculation, and it seems he just might have hit the nail on the head. The Universe Symphony indeed does go to close to the limit of the creative resources of the time. Thus, despite Ives’s physical condition, there are likely creative ones, too, that account for the rapid onset of Ives’s compositional decline. Compared to the depression experienced by some astronauts who went to the moon, what else was left to do? And there are limits to the growth of any one human mind. Even Einstein could not progress beyond the Theory of Relativity; though formulated early in his career, no one ever suggested that he suffered from mental decline! Perhaps, too, Ives feared the completion of the symphony, because he knew it represented the terminus at the end of his own celestial railroad. Perhaps this is why he put it aside for a time, until it was too late to summon the strength to see it through.

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line-height:115%”>The evidence that Ives found he could go no further may be seen in his late attempts at composition in the 1920’s. They reveal a retrograde step to a language at once more familiar; subsequent compositional efforts often seem more a chore than creative outgrowth. Finished new works in the decade were mostly small scale, and tended to be retroactively conservative, the remainder being revisions, completions, or reworkings. Virtually everything failed to break new ground. Interestingly, Magee referenced On the Antipodes, and Psalm 90,24 as examples of his remaining modernity. However, the harmonic basis of this former, at least, was derived from the Universe Symphony! On a smaller scale, some of his songs from the period, such as The One Way (poking fun at traditional song formulae), and Two Little Flowers (a touching tribute to his daughter and her playmate), are as delightful as could possibly be, but they are far from a forward step or technically revolutionary, taking a more conventional idiom as well as being tonal. Magee proffered that Ives deliberately returned to earlier styles in the 1920’s, his modernistic status assured.25 Such arguments are not plausible either, especially since some of the reversions to earlier styles came about in highly personal ways, such as the little song for his daughter; this was meant for her, not the world. The other example, The One Way, was a humorous example of bad, formulaic song writing, so Ives would not have written negatively about something he was now embracing.

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line-height:115%”>Ives also attempted other larger scale composition shortly before the later period of working on the Universe Symphony, and even beyond. Left largely incomplete, there have been efforts made to assemble some of those materials. Ives researcher and noted musicologist, the late David G. Porter was no stranger to completing unfinished Ives works. Amongst his completions are the first two movements of the Third Orchestral Set (1921–1926). The first movement, for which Ives had left a very comprehensive sketch, leaves an impression of total authenticity; set in a darkly moody tone, it is strongly imbued with Ives’s unique sound, though suffers from somewhat awkward transitions between sections. Highly expressive and dreamlike, though saying nothing very new, it sounds not unlike the Second Orchestral Set, an evolutionary step backwards into more familiar turf. By the time Ives reached the second movement, his inspiration seems largely detached, far less satisfying, and uneven in quality; musically, it stands its ground with that of the first movement, though gives the impression that it was something Ives felt he should have been doing, but lacked the passion to pursue. Composing was becoming a chore. Perhaps the clearest evidence, however, of the waning of Ives’s previous unflagging need to write may be seen in the barely sketched third movement. Ives was spent, creatively and physically. The Universe Symphony already had encompassed everything; not only had he nothing left to say, he had no reason to say it. It was not as if anyone was commissioning works from his pen; rather, few people showed any interest in his music at all.

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line-height:115%”>Interestingly, Porter also produced a piano and orchestra realization of the abandoned and uncompleted earlier forerunner to the Concord Sonata, titled unsurprisingly, the Emerson Overture (or Emerson Concerto) of 1910-14. In rebuilding and realizing a work as envisaged by Ives, it appears to be well researched, and a very effective, convincingly authentic Ivesian statement, a fastidious representation of the composer’s notoriously chaotic surviving sketches. Porter himself assembled a performance version of parts of the Universe Symphony from those sketches left largely complete. (See Chapter 12.) However, he produced a far shorter work than intended by Ives, believing to his dying day that a complete version was impossible to produce.

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line-height:115%”>Another musician saw things differently, having evaluated the sketch materials for himself. Venturing his belief that Ives had, in fact, essentially completed the symphony, albeit in disjointed and loosely laid out sketches, Johnny Reinhard saw a pathway through the materials and set about realizing the entire Universe Symphony. The next chapter details his and others’ remarkable efforts to free the symphony from its tomb.

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REFERENCES

 



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line-height:115%”>1.
Charles E. Ives, Memos, ed. John Kirkpatrick, (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972), 132.

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line-height:115%”>2.
Mark Tucker, “Of Men and Mountains: Ives in the Adirondacks,” in Charles Ives and his World, ed. J. Peter Burkholder, (Princeton University Press, NJ, 1996), 160.

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line-height:115%”>3.
Ives, Memos, 106.

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line-height:115%”>4.
“Charles Ives Universe Symphony: Nothing More to Say,” Michael Berest, 2005, www.afmm.org/uindex.htm.

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line-height:115%”>5.
Stuart Feder, Charles Ives: “My Father’s Song”, a Psychoanalytic Biography (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1992), 298.

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line-height:115%”>6.
Ives, Memos, 107.

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line-height:115%”>7.
Frank R. Rossiter, Charles Ives & His America (Liveright, New York, 1975), 137–138.

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line-height:115%”>8.
Feder, “My Father’s Song”, 349.

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line-height:115%”>9.
Ives, Memos, 106.

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line-height:115%”>10.
 Ibid., 112–13.

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line-height:115%”>11.
Op. cit., n.10.

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line-height:115%”>12.

115%”>Vivian Perlis, Charles Ives Remembered, an Oral History (University of Illinois Press, Chicago, IL, 1974), e.g., 103, 153.

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line-height:115%”>13.
 Ibid., 224.

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line-height:115%”>14.

115%”>Magee, Charles Ives Reconsidered (University of Illinois Press, Chicago, IL, 2008), 157–158.

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line-height:115%”>15.
Feder, “My Father’s Song,” 292–297.

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line-height:115%”>16.

 115%”>Ibid., 296.

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line-height:115%”>17.
Op. cit., n.16.

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line-height:115%”>18.
Charles Ives Plays Ives, CRI 810, (CD) [1999].

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line-height:115%”>19.
James Sinclair, A Descriptive Catalogue of The Music of Charles Ives (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1999); see “Comment,” Concord Sonata, http://webtext.library.yale.edu/xml2html/music.ives-sinclair.nav.html.

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115%”>Perlis, Charles Ives Remembered, 77–80; 98–99; 128–129; 205; 219–220.

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line-height:115%”>21.
Howard Taubman, “Posterity Catches Up with Charles Ives,” from Charles Ives and his World, ed. J. Peter Burkholder (Princeton University Press, NJ, 1996), 423–429.

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115%”>Ives, Memos,133–136; Essays before a Sonata (The Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1920).

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 115%”>Ibid., 108.

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line-height:115%”>24.
Magee, Charles Ives Reconsidered, 151.

line-height:115%”>25. Ibid., 161.


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 115%”>CHAPTER 12


115%”>Resurrecting the symphony

 

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11.0pt;line-height:115%”>ontrary to the commonly held perception, a surprisingly large quantity of material exists for the Universe Symphony. With much of it being sufficiently comprehensive to justify the efforts of some later composers to try their hand at assembling at least parts of the masterwork, in fact, this was precisely what Ives had proposed, once he began to realize that completing it probably would remain beyond his capability. The file of sketch materials is pure, raw Ives, ranging from near-complete large musical spans at most, to fragmentary, seemingly disconnected ideas, at least. As such, it provides a unique insight into the workings of Ives’s creative processes. More significantly, it reveals just how truly innovative Ives’s music was at the time of its initial conception; the Universe Symphony sounds as avant-garde even as anything written today.

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line-height:115%”>The sketch materials

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line-height:115%”>Regardless, mischaracterizations of “missing sketches” still continue unabated in some circles, showing up unabashedly now and then. David G. Porter (whose credentials were impeccable) railed against such “phantom materials,” since they are oddly out of step with what seems to have become clear over recent years. Porter became totally exasperated by the continued propagation of the myth. If anything was missing, he argued, it was because it never existed! Whether the extant materials represent all of Ives’s intent for the symphony—a matter of some discussion—attempts to produce a concert work are well supported by what exists. However, only the realization by Johnny Reinhard has resulted in a work that coincides with Ives’s plan and also sounds complete. It is also not insignificant that there happened to be just sufficient material to occupy the duration of all ten prescribed percussion cycles (and which continue throughout the entire work), something that supports Reinhard’s contention that all the necessary musical content indeed was present in the collective sketches.

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line-height:115%”>Conceived initially as a one-movement piece, Wide Valleys and Clouds, the majority of the materials comprising it being highly detailed, and date mostly from 1915–1916, and feature three orchestras, “Heavens,” “Earth,” and percussion “The Pulse of the Cosmos,” each set in a different speed and sonic range. As late as 1923, an expanded general plan was laid down for a work built in three sections, labeled A, B and C. Each would feature a prelude, and a new introduction into the main part of Section A would follow the original prelude—the “Pulse of the Cosmos”—now an ever-present percussion “track” throughout the entire duration of the three-section symphony. Many less fully worked out sketches originate from the later date and presumably up to a handful of years later, coming right at the cusp of the most precipitous decline of Ives’s compositional activity. Of these, some are clearly labeled for Section B, so there is no dispute regarding their placement; that of the less than clearly labeled Section B coda was straightforward to deduce because of the completeness and specific naming of the other two. Other sketches are clearly labeled for Section C, or related to the designated Section C materials (certainly not to the other two sections), so their placement there can be made fairly confidently, even when not thus specified. Some formerly “orphan” sketches were assigned by Reinhard to a famously “missing” portion of Section A (see Appendix 2); in utilizing this previously unassigned material to complete the section, Reinhard found that logically, it matched the existing tonal references for the subsequent realignment with the remaining sketch materials, too, as well as the ongoing percussion cycles. Reinhard made the argument that the material easily could be the basis for what Ives himself had intended to address the “missing” (presumably discarded) segment. For the most part, thus, Section A was left largely complete, most of it existing in detailed compact score.

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line-height:115%”>Ives himself alluded to only some the above directly in Memos, where it is quite clear that Section A was conceived initially, even as early as 1911; however, the subject of the later, the larger symphony as a concept does appear in his words—even if not precisely spelled out—the grand plan implied, at least.1 Although the prelude to Section B dates from 1923, that belonging to Section C has remained shrouded in controversy, with most authorities considering it lost or never written. Significantly, some other sketch materials are dated 1915, and were labeled specifically for inclusion later in the symphony, raising the specter of Ives’s larger design beyond Section A. Below is the final plan as it had evolved for the Universe Symphony by 1923, together with what has been traditionally considered the status of each part:

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none;text-autospace:none”>I: Fragment; Earth Alone (existing fragment—coda to Section A—in detailed sketch).

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none;text-autospace:none”>II: Prelude #1; The Pulse Of The Cosmos (plan detailed and described and partly sketched by Ives).

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none;text-autospace:none”>IV: Prelude #2; Birth Of The Oceans (present).

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line-height:115%”>In Memos, however, Ives did not claim much for the entire symphony, other than Section A; even in his own 1931-1950 catalog Ives listed only Section A. Apparently he did not consider the materials for Sections B and C sufficiently fleshed out and organized for him to acknowledge, despite the fact that quantities of these materials do exist, and are fairly comprehensive at that, not to mention his plans for the full extent of the “Pulse of the Cosmos.” A substantial portion of them, if not quite at the near final stage of the Section A materials, could be considered to approach them in representation. A plan by Ives for the overall assembly of these sketches, however, is missing, their precise sequence or purpose far from clear. Any valid realization, therefore, requires good powers of deduction, knowledge, and a certain amount of intuition, which naturally comes with the inevitable questions about correctness, or whether there was enough material to assemble an entire symphony. In demonstrating convincingly that this was the case, Reinhard also succeeded in assembling the only realization of an entire symphony that fits Ives’s description.

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line-height:115%”>Ives at one time thought this lengthy work might be performed twice in succession to allow audiences to experience and grasp it more fully! Actually, this wish was reasonable in the absence of alternatives, despite being totally impractical at the time. If a double performance was not possible, Ives also suggested that fragments with strongly identifying traits of the three parallel entities be allowed to stand on their own at the outset of the entire piece, even elsewhere. Regardless, Ives must have known that his proposals would only partially solve the problems for all but the most sophisticated listener. Such is the advantage of modern recordings, with their high-resolution sound and separation. With this in mind, familiarizing oneself with just a portion of the symphony at a time ought not to be frowned upon; perhaps, too, the listener will find later sections more readily approachable than earlier ones.

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line-height:115%”>The opening fragment was taken from the coda of Section A, for “Earth Orchestra” only, in accordance with Ives’s suggestion to air materials from the “Heavens” and “Earth” orchestras. Followed by “Prelude #1: The Pulse of The Cosmos,” the first three of ten remarkable cycles of percussion was intended to be heard alone, the remaining cycles continuing throughout and accompanying the entire length of the symphony are briefly interrupted by a segment Reinhard extracted from the larger texture Section A to feature the sounds of the “Heavens” orchestra alone.

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line-height:115%”>Paving the road for the listener

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line-height:115%”>In Memos, Ives mentioned his piano studies and “cycle rhythms”; these are directly related to “The Pulse of the Cosmos.2 Clearly, the idea came about soon after the turn of the century. From the Steeples and the Mountains (see Chapter 6) features cyclical rhythmic divisions that hint at the compound expansions and contractions of rhythms within these cycles. Another composition, Rondo Rapid Transit,3 (otherwise known as Tone Roads No. 3
italic”>)Ives considered it a joke more than an exercise—features a substantial harmonic cycle of expansion and contraction.

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line-height:115%”>In the Universe Symphony itself, direct comparisons with the Finale of the Fourth Symphony are easy to find, in which Ives put the concept of an independent battery of percussion instruments into practice, though the percussion in the Fourth Symphony is developmentally static; it evolves neither within itself, nor over the progress of the movement. However, its presence—within a repeating cycle—throughout the length of the movement cements its telling connection; the Universe Symphony took the idea to the next level. Aside from some direct indications on the sketches by Ives himself—that leave no doubt at all—the correctness of continuing the percussion throughout the Universe Symphony had been demonstrated already. Ives’s rationale to impose on the listener a lengthy unconventional section of non-tuned (and, for one segment, tuned) percussion at the outset (almost thirty minutes) must have been threefold; (i), its trancelike gravity, which seems to suspend time itself, would convey the “heartbeat” of the cosmos; (ii), a greater awareness of it would serve to bind the whole work together; (iii), it would illustrate and emphasize the symmetry that mimics nature at every level in the cosmos.

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line-height:115%”>Though the term, “parallel listening,” was new to Ives in 1927, much of his output had involved multiple lines of parallel musical thought; however, the strong visual connotations of the Universe Symphony presented the potential to feature it as never before. The extremely slow basic reference tempo for the entire ensemble allows internal movement, through multiple divisions and related parallel tempi, while avoiding any sense of “beat” that is obvious or dominant. Thus, the symphony would encompass one level of continuous, though separate percussion cycles, plus another orchestra (the “Earth Orchestra”) that is melodically rhythmic and harmonically grounded, and a third (the “Heavens Orchestra”), flying high above that is melodic smoother and harmonically independent, seeming more akin to imaginary overtones. Separating any given part by character, rather than independence of actual tempi, was the main consideration. Indeed, the conductors’ beats (realizations require at least two conductors) act more as reference points for coordination, and as such, the tempo governing any part will be hard to discern, precisely the effect Ives intended. However, the distinct independence of movement of the three primary levels becomes clear, nevertheless, upon repeated hearings.

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line-height:115%”>Melodically, in works such as The Fourth of July and Majority (The Masses), even in the wind parts within the very early cyclical piece, From the Steeples and the Mountains, Ives also had utilized some of the wide leaping intervals found in many of the individual lines in the Universe Symphony, and that often encompass 12-tone rows or similar structures, to say nothing of the microtonal tunings he referenced directly in various commentaries in Memos. In the Universe Symphony one will encounter all manner of lines and tunings, and in both tempered, microtonal, and natural scales.4 From these qualities alone, it should already be clear why the Universe Symphony cannot present itself as an immediately accessible work, even upon successive hearings—if encountered in a vacuum. Thus, a degree of effort toward it by the listener is required to understand the perspective of looking far into the cosmos, and its expression in similarly out-of-this-world terms. As such, normal worldly references, other than those relating to Earth’s place in the cosmic order, cannot be expected to occupy a significant part of it, so one should not expect the music to sound familiar in any traditional sense. To anyone still unfamiliar with Ives’s less radical compositions, it is likely to seem all the more inaccessible.

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line-height:115%”>The soundscape consists of countless expansive, evolving musical colors, effects built from unusual instrumental and note combinations within multiple complex lines of thought, like broad irregular washes of paint on a three-dimensional moving canvas. If traditional melodies have been replaced by “thematic motifs” that are more fragmentary than extended, Ives had written music of another kind (Music of the Spheres, again?), certainly not likely to be considered “music, as such” (Ives’s terminology) at the time of its composition. For those unable to relate to its futurism, perhaps bemoaning the absence of the familiar melodic quotes, more is the pity, since here is one of man’s most magnificent musical flights of the imagination. Thus, the plea is to give this symphony time.

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line-height:115%”>To put the scope of this visionary work into perspective, 1915 is the date that Holst composed The Planets—also amongst the first true examples of “space music.” Despite the magnificence of Holst’s composition, the “night and day” disparity between their respective “languages” shows just how advanced Ives’s musical scope was in its day. Remarkably, the Universe Symphony would not sound out of place today in a program featuring the most far-reaching avant-garde, even electronic compositions. However, Ives’s otherworld sonic landscape was attained with no high-tech means; electronic sounding textures can be found earlier, too, in the Finale of the Fourth Symphony.

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line-height:115%”>Remarkably, even in the Universe Symphony, ultimately one can find certain ties to more familiar music, and for those even with just a little musical background, tonal centers and logical harmonic progressions become increasingly discernible after a few hearings. Isolating individual instrumental motifs and lines, too, wherever possible, will reveal thematic connections that tie together and identify the material of each section. Because the entire lengthy symphony is played with no breaks between sections, the result is a continuous stream of uninterrupted consciousness that traces the evolution of the universe itself.

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line-height:115%”>The three orchestras

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line-height:115%”>Reflecting the typical view of the universe at the time, Earth is the center of attention—at least in the sense of its importance! Reflected in the plan of the symphony, Ives conceived a separate orchestra for each primary component from this perspective. With the dominant forces of the Universe represented from the opening of the piece (in the percussion orchestra as “The Pulse of the Cosmos”), and continuing as an undercurrent throughout the symphony, a separate orchestra representing Earth, its creation, evolutions and varied landscapes, and yet another symbolizing the skies above (the Heavens).

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line-height:115%”>The extreme separation of these three separate entities dominates the orchestral portion of Section A; it is the only portion in which the three orchestras are scored in independent speeds. The instrumentation of the later sections is increasingly blended, as instruments from the three groups regularly cross into, and join each other—often the two orchestras co-exist entirely as a unified ensemble—in this sense, a gradual revelation in the cumulative sense, in which man and the cosmos are bonded. However, this observation is general only, because even in the final coda of Section C, there are direct references to the separations of Section A, even if not the three independent speeds. In Ives’s music, however, one cannot regard the scoring of independent speeds at face value, because rhythmic notation can supersede the need for such individuality, in which, effectively, many separate speeds can coexist. The designated identities and purposes of the three independent instrumental “orchestras,” can be summarized as follows:

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       The percussion (
normal”>“The Pulse of the Cosmos”)
orchestra plays on its own as the lengthy opening Prelude to Section A, reinventing itself through course of the ten cycles as it continues totally independently throughout the entire symphony. The “Pulse” moves in its own integral tempo, exactly half that of the “Earth Orchestra” (each beat falling at 2-second intervals—incredibly slow for any conductor to maintain). Because the “Pulse” is the foundation of the work, the slow reference speed—upon which everything else depends—has caused some misconceptions about the nature of the music, some critics mischaracterizing it as slow music. Perhaps they were listening with their eyes, not their ears (watching the conductor instead?), because the music is neither fast nor slow; the speed is indeterminate. The “Pulse” actually is the total 16-second sub-cycle within each larger cycle, noticeable by the periodic sense one experiences of “waiting” for the regular point at which all instruments coincide.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Each of the ten percussion cycles are built in palindromes—by adding instruments in various divisions or compounds of the basic beat until the peak of the cycle is reached, then subtracting them in reverse order. In certain respects these cycles are coordinated with the varying activity of the material in the “Heavens” or “Earth” orchestras.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Each cycle is developed from combinations of multiple divided sixteen-second units (termed the Basic Unit), the chosen instruments for each cycle maintaining equal divisions of time within the Basic Unit after entering, until exiting. Instruments are added or subtracted at the outset of each Basic Unit. The effect of the full compliment of prescribed percussion instruments playing together at the height of each cycle is slightly reminiscent of many clocks ticking in one room, though attained, of course, entirely differently.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Durations of tones range from very long to very short. Superficially, the rhythmic divisions might sound irregular, but this illusion is only due to the mathematical misalignments of the rhythms of each instrument relative to the others.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       The cycles require at least 13 players; the third cycle includes tuned percussion instruments (with piccolo, borrowed from the “Heavens Orchestra”). The lengths and total number of divisions of each cycle are partially dependent on the dimensions of each of the three major sections to which they are tied (A, B and C), their high and low points, and the associated preludes to each. The last cycle in Reinhard’s realization differs in one aspect from the others, as the only one that commences at its peak, being, in fact, a half cycle; each instrument drops out one by one, concluding with just the low bell tone that began the first cycle, after everything else in the concert hall has fallen silent.

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115%”>The “Earth Orchestra” features striking lines for the trumpet; Ives’s choice of this prominent instrumentation remained a characteristic throughout most of his instrumental and orchestral output. From The Unanswered Question to The Fourth of July, this sound, altogether reminiscent of the dominant instrument of the local town band, and hence by default, George Ives, his father’s presence remains. A sound that must have been ingrained on Ives’s consciousness from earliest times, transformed here, however, was Ives, perhaps, glimpsing the place where they would be reunited?

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       The
normal”>“Earth Orchestra”
features a lower aural component and a specific group of instruments to represent it. With two primary functions, the orchestral sub-group was to represent features such as mountains, rocks, outcroppings, trees, rivers, fields, forests, etc., as well as the acts of creation, ranging from close-up to far in the distance, often symbolizing them in free polyphonic elements full of jagged intervals and rhythms. Harmonic in nature, “Earth Chords”deeply grounded structures—represent the ground below. Although the “Earth Orchestra” is dominated by low to mid-range sounds, often the trumpet, clarinet and oboe soar skywards as represented features appear in the soundscape.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       The “Earth Orchestra” moves at a speed (the 8-second Orchestral Unit [OU]) twice that of “The Pulse of the Cosmos.”

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       The
normal”>“Heavens Orchestra”
is altogether gentler, more smoothly linear and chordal in nature, projecting the clouds floating across the skies. An outgrowth of similar structures, such as the string cycle in Central Park in the Dark, and the “romp across the snow” in Washington’s Birthday, grouped chordal blocks move together; rhythmically and harmonically divided further into sub-groups, Ives was trying to paint moving, interacting cloud formations.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Consisting of no less than nine flutes, clarinet, violins, violas, glockenspiel and celeste Unsurprisingly, its overall register and character is significantly higher in pitch than that of the “Earth Orchestra.”

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       In most of Section A, the “Heavens Orchestra” exists within a tempo 150% that of the “Earth Orchestra,” and twice that of the Pulse of the Cosmos, imparting an even greater floating quality to its sound, ultimately it can be resolved and identified by its unique sonic characterizations and motions.

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line-height:115%”>All components together

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line-height:115%”>In those portions of Section A that appear in three independent speeds, the relationships between them can be summarized as follows:

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line-height:115%”>24 beats of Heavens Orchestra/

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16 beats of Earth Orchestra/

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8 beats Percussion Orchestra

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= Two Orchestral Units (2x OU)

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mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace:none”>                                                                               = One Basic Unit (1x BU)

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= 16 seconds

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115%”>In itself, this arrangement is straightforward arithmetic, though, in fact, the vast array of further rhythmic subdivisions of each level within each orchestral group/speed result often in as many as twenty to thirty independent parallel speeds.

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line-height:115%”>Realizations of the Universe Symphony

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line-height:115%”>In that not everyone interested in the Universe Symphony was prepared to accept the traditionally and commonly ordained sentiment that it was beyond completion, or had been intended to be left incomplete, it seems hard to imagine that any composer—in this case, Ives—would wish for an infinitely suspended state of being for anything that had taken such a prominent place in his imagination. Fortunately, three “realizers” have sought to bring Ives’s vision to life, though only one of them (Johnny Reinhard) incorporated virtually everything that Ives left behind. The result is a coherent whole, containing the requisite amount of material to occupy all ten percussion cycles of Ives’s allotted span.

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line-height:115%”>First to undertake such a project was Larry Austin, long an enthusiast of the vision of the mythic symphony. Austin spent almost twenty years sorting through the available sketch materials in an effort to assemble what he intended to be perceived as a total “Ives experience.” The author, while a member of the same university faculty during the 1970’s, actually played some low “Earth tones” from the sketches for one of Austin’s preliminary Universe Symphony explorations, likely the first time anything from the sketches had received something of a performance. However, Austin’s version, completed in 1993, did not incorporate all of the sketch material, though he took up Ives’s invitation to work up the idea. The question remains, however, precisely what Ives meant by his words.

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line-height:115%”>The result of Austin’s effort is a very different piece to the other realizations, even though the more complete “
italic”>Earth” and “Heavens” materials from Section A essentially were preserved amidst the sonorities. This cannot be expressed without a caveat here because here it is played exactly twice as fast as the tempo that Ives indicated. (Austin could not accept that Ives’s tempo specification was accurate; see discussion in Chapter 13). The new speed causes the material to be garbled, as Ives’s carefully crafted lines become almost unrecognizably blurred and otherwise subverted, by the continuing frenetic ad libitum percussion, added beyond the prescribed format. Furthermore, the tempo of the “Pulse of the Cosmos” causes the low tolling bell at the beginning of each Basic Unit to occur with such frequency (and in the first recording being placed in a register so high) that it draws undue attention to itself, ultimately becoming an irritant.

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line-height:115%”>Austin wished his efforts to be experienced as something close to the symphony that Ives had envisaged. Though undoubtedly this was his intent, it is harder to argue that it achieves the result, much less to know if the sonic effect of the resulting musical conflagration was anticipated ahead of its first performance. Some critics have argued that the material suffers from Austin’s additions; although it is clear that one is hearing not only what Ives himself had written, but also Austin’s contributions, Ives did openly invite other composers to “work up the idea.” Austin, thus, took Ives at his perceived word, whether or not everyone is in agreement about what Ives really intended. It is not helped also by its adherence to the more limited plan of Ives’s original layout, instead of the final plan of three clearly defined preludes, with three similarly defined main sections that incorporated all the sketches. Thus, Austin’s realization comes across as compressed, rather the epic monument that Ives had in mind. However, it was a sincere attempt to extract a performable work from the sketches, and was the first attempt to bring the symphony to life.

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line-height:115%”>Much closer to the original sonic concept, in as far as it goes, is the version of the symphony by David G. Porter. Consisting of excerpts taken mostly from the first part (Section A) and partly from the last (Section C), it was performed for the first time at the Aldeburgh Festival in England recently,7 but as of this date, (2015), however, it has not as yet been released as a commercial recording. Apparently, Porter was unable to trace clues to the assembly of the other sketches, choosing to exclude them from his realization. Although well set in his feelings about other attempts to realize the score, Porter, nevertheless, was a noted Ives Scholar, and at one time served as historian to the Charles Ives Society. Notwithstanding the opinion of many that he made the incorrect assessment that the percussion part was not to be played concurrently with the other orchestral sections, the altered the shape of Ives’s ten specified percussion cycles, due to a misinterpretation of the waveform that Ives specified, even though one would be right to presume that he followed Ives’s instructions and sketches closely for those materials he presented.

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line-height:115%”>Careful examination of the sketches supports, however, Ives’s plan for the percussion cycles to continue throughout, because on the opening sketch page Ives clearly indicated that the entire symphony was to consist of “one movement,” and that the percussion was to continue “through the whole movement.” Additionally, at the outset of Section B, another annotation to the continuance of the percussion cycles confirms it, and makes even more sense when one takes into account the sheer duration necessary to fill out Ives’s specifications for them. (They could not possibly be heard isolated in full—maintaining any expectation that the audience still would be present at the end!) Additionally, at the outset of Section B, there is further corroboration about the size of the percussion orchestra: the number of percussion players is listed at twelve, which supports Ives’s original specifications. The continuous nature of the percussion cycles also has seemed completely clear to others, too, amongst them Austin, Reinhard and Feder, who also pointed to the comments by Ives.5 Johnny Reinhard recalled, too, that the first sketch page was split and that the top part continued as the lower half of the page began. Thus he contended that Porter misinterpreted the signposts. As a consequence, the difference in the percussion cycles between Porter’s and Reinhard’s sets them well apart.

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line-height:115%”>Soon after Austin’s version of the symphony had debuted, Johnny Reinhard’s complete realization appeared on the scene. Reinhard’s position that the sketches were largely complete seems reasonable considering the quantity of surviving sketches themselves. Other than when following successions of numbered or labeled pages, clues to their assembly were in evidence by various tonal cues, styles, figurative connections, even by obvious unsuitability for inclusion elsewhere. Reinhard fitted perfectly into the mold of “outsider claiming to see what insiders could not,” and received his share of criticism for his trouble. The Charles Ives Society, as well as the owners of the publishing rights (Peermusic), ultimately, though, gave Reinhard the green light for his realization and first performance. Remarkably, despite the concurrence of that position by David G. Porter (as the society musicologist), Porter would later become a staunch critic of attempts to realize the work, other than his own! Entrenched with his own version—notwithstanding his insistence that the “Pulse” should be a separate movement—Porter had staked his reputation upon constructing what Reinhard termed “beautiful diagrams” of the percussion cycles. Reinhard seems lucky to have been allowed to proceed.

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line-height:115%”>Reinhard, however, made the case convincingly that he could tread where Ives had gone before. In producing a full, balanced work, without adding any additional material, he believed that all three sections of the symphony were, in fact, substantially represented by the sketches. Nevertheless, it was ruled that it should be known as, Ives’s Universe Symphony, as realized by Johnny Reinhard, if for no other reason that it was impossible to be 100% certain about Ives’s intentions—he did not provide the finished score! Furthermore, one might believe the materials, if judged against many of Ives’s large-scale works, need “filling out” with added substance, as Austin had done. They work, however, just as they are; even the sketches do not resemble those of his other works. Whether Ives would have continued to develop his sketches for the Sections B and C is impossible to know; what was utilized to build the hitherto “missing” prelude to Section C was clearly assigned to the Section, regardless.

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line-height:115%”>In Reinhard’s realization, Earth, having formed by the conclusion of Section A, Section B begins with the creation of the oceans, in which Earth remains centered in the foreground; the cosmos, viewed now more from an external standpoint, however, increasingly dominates the soundscape. Nevertheless, it is only when the final grand designs of Section C are reached that are one feels freed—even propelled—into the cosmos, fully on its own terms, Earth finally portrayed as only a small part of it. It is as though Ives could see the cosmos through Hubble’s eyes, because the sheer sound is utterly amazing and dumbfounding, seeming to speak to a new musical order! Meticulously ordered, the final outcome is a mighty testament to Ives’s creativity, but also a mighty testament to the skills, patience, dedication and perseverance of its eventual “realizer.”

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 line-height:115%”>Microtones

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line-height:115%”>As Director of the American Festival of Microtonal Music (AFMM, New York), originally Reinhard was lured towards the Universe Symphony by its incorporations of microtones—the divisions between the normally recognized smallest intervals of pitch in Western music. As the sketches proceed into the later phases of the symphony, the microtonal notations become increasingly evident, in this instance, quarter-tones, half the amount of the smallest division of Western pitch. Contrary to impressions gained from a poorly researched review of the first performance by Richard Whitehouse of Porter’s version in June 2012 in England,6 Reinhard only included in his score those microtones that Ives himself had written in his sketches and throughout his compositions. Even the Charles Ives Society has recognized this much. However, Whitehouse criticized their wide use in Reinhard’s version. Since the composer’s microtonal indications increasingly characterize the later music of the symphony, Porter’s version, by default, largely excluded the relevant sketch materials from his realization, and hence the microtones.

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line-height:115%”>Additionally, Reinhard was able to trace clues to further unconventional tuning: in the Universe Symphony, it appeared that Ives, in fact, was writing with Pythagorean tuning in mind—even more since he made direct and distinct references to alternative tuning protocols during his recollections in Memos. With Pythagorean tuning in mind, it might be also instructive to spend a little more time to understand why, in conventional Western music, notes of the same name, or “spelled” enharmonically (as a sharpened or flatted tone) are necessarily different from key to key—a direct manifestation of microtonal differences between natural tuning and equal temperament. Such instinctive (Ptolemaic) tuning involves the seventh and third tones in major scales (and ascending sevenths in those of the melodic minor), which are pitched slightly higher, respectively the third and descending seventh in minor scales, which appear slightly lower.

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line-height:115%”>Though instinctively natural to the ear in melodic lines, these “tempered” tunings are problematic when so tuned in conventional chords. Thus, the piano, with its non-sustaining tones, equally tempered non-adjustable tuning, and ready chordal attributes, is an ideal candidate for the “equal temperament” system of tuning; to play effectively within instrumental ensembles requires constant adjustment by musicians, in which all concerned normally tune to the average—an equally tempered pitch center—just as in piano tuning. The difference is not great, but to a practiced ear, it is audible. In Ives’s polytonal music, these shaded tunings would apply, thus, to each parallel key center; suddenly, it is easier to appreciate the subtle distinctions he made, although Pythagorean tuning is specific to another order of microtonal tuning. Thus, both equal temperament and its opposite counterpart—just (Ptolemaic) intonation—are really only different tuning protocols, and not necessarily interchangeable with true microtonal tunings—which mostly divide the octave by entirely different degrees.

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line-height:115%”>Highly specific “spellings” may be found in the Universe Symphony sketches, in which sharps and flats are used within the same chords, in ways that imply subtle tuning.7 On the basis of these specific note “spelling,” Reinhard interpreted Ives’s notation as Pythagorean tuning, and incorporated it into his realization.8 Although the Pythagorean tuning is fairly complex to grasp, and might be a subtle distinction from conventional tuning to many ears, a special flavor is imparted to the overall sound by its usage; it seems completely at home in the Universe Symphony, being governed instead by the Pythagorean relationships of the compounding spiral of mathematically pure perfect fifths, and thus, it is something more in line with the natural laws of the universe—better applied here, perhaps, than anywhere!

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line-height:115%”>The story behind Reinhard’s realization

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line-height:115%”>Reinhard’s documentation of the realization and assembly of the sketches, The Ives Universe: a Symphonic Odyssey9 reviews the process he followed. In this book-length account, the major source material is reproduced, with descriptions of how one sketch was connected to the next. For those interested and able to read music, many finer details that are not spelled out may be deduced by analyzing the sketches reproduced within the text, or even the full score.10 The Charles Ives Society concurred with Reinhard’s claims of having used only Ives’s materials, adding nothing of his own. In asking Reinhard for information on certain specifics that were not always clear, (see Appendix 2), his openness was testament to his passion for Ives’s masterwork. Fortunately, too, a remarkable recording of the symphony is available of his realization, in which he conducted the AFMM Orchestra. Painstakingly undertaken in a unique layering process that ensured authenticity and precision, as such, it remains the sole recording of the only realization of the entire symphony. The result is a highly successful first recording of an unfamiliar work.11

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line-height:115%”>The difficulties of realization and the Ives Sound

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line-height:115%”>Realizations of composers’ unfinished or sketched works are tricky undertakings, to be sure. Hollywood film score orchestrators have developed an almost uncanny ability to perform a similar function with the widest possible range of materials provided them imaginable—from the extremely carefully detailed sketches by some of the most accomplished figures, to the efforts of a few who have little or no background, even composing skills! Although Ives was often extremely detailed in his directives and intentions, his working sketches (versus his more finished sketches or short scores) are a profusion of muddle and disorder, his scrawled notations frequently jammed onto every available scrap of the manuscript paper. It takes a special kind of person to decipher and organize them.

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line-height:115%”>It has been said
line-height:115%”> that this symphony does not sound like Ives. If one’s ability to identify the composer’s work is limited by a need to hear familiar musical quotations, even a type of counterpoint often featuring radical blends of styles, perhaps the comment would be true. However, awareness of the presence of other, subtler traits common throughout much of Ives’s output make the landmarks aurally clear. In fact, the Universe Symphony sounds exactly like Ives. Those sketches that are virtually complete are extremely complex, by any standards; though far vaguer, tonally, they are reminiscent of the ethereally blended language of the Finale of the Fourth Symphony. It is worth recalling that certain details (recreations of birdsong) in that finale were long considered indecipherable. Ives’s friend, composer John Becker, in the 1940’s performed a kind of realization in deciphering them to put the movement into its final finished state; What Reinhard did with the Universe Symphony was more such a deciphering—on a grand scale, for sure—than a significantly different process. For those who argue that the usage and placement of every single sketch cannot be claimed with certainty, had Ives completed the symphony himself, would it have emerged an entirely different work? Reinhard’s is a version that works, regardless, without wondering how much is by Ives himself. It is all by him.

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mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace:none”>REFERENCES

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line-height:115%”>1.
Charles E. Ives, Memos, ed. by John Kirkpatrick, (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972), 106–08.

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line-height:115%”>2.
 Ibid., 101.

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line-height:115%”>3.
Ibid., 64.

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line-height:115%”>4.
Ibid., 107.

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line-height:115%”>5.
 Ibid., 108.

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line-height:115%”>6.
Richard Whitehouse, “Aldeburgh Festival 2012: Charles Ives’s Universe Symphony,” www.classicalsource.com, June 24, 2012.

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line-height:115%”>7.
Ives, Memos, 107.

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line-height:115%”>8.
Johnny Reinhard, The Ives Universe: a Symphonic Odyssey (www.afmm.org, 2004), 99–117.

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line-height:115%”>9.
Op. cit., n.11.

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line-height:115%”>10.

115%”>Johnny Reinhard, The Universe Symphony, realized by Johnny Reinhard, (AFMM, New York, 2004), 37–46.

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line-height:115%”>11.
Charles Ives UNIVERSE SYMPHONY realized by Johnny Reinhard, AFMM Orchestra, The Stereo Society, 837101048521, (CD) [2005].



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 115%”>CHAPTER 13


115%”>A listeners’ guide to the Universe Symphony


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The Sombrero Galaxy in infrared light

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The Sombrero Galaxy in infrared light; NASA/courtesy of nasaimages.org

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11.0pt;line-height:115%”>o incarnation of the Universe Symphony will jump out and grab the listener without an effort extended towards it; reaching out and hitching oneself to it is a necessity. Because this music seems already so far outside convention, on first impression it might sound like walls of incoherent sound. Some have remarked on a relentless similarity throughout its duration—the kind of remark that results from insufficient familiarity to appreciate it on its own terms. First exposure to Ives’s ultimate masterpiece might be likened to the eyesight of a newborn child, to whom the world appears to be a formless jumble of colors and light. Similarly, the Universe Symphony should not be expected to reveal itself with only casual listening.

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line-height:115%”>I: Fragment: Earth Alone
(also later: Heavens music fragment)

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line-height:115%”>In Reinhard’s realization, the “Earth Orchestra” and its key motifs are presented in isolation at the outset of the symphony—before the “Pulse of the Cosmos Orchestra” begins—just as Ives had suggested. The fragment of “Earth” material was borrowed from the coda of Section A, because it features the primary motifs in near isolation. Similarly, per Ives’s recommendation, at the end the second “Pulse of the Cosmos” percussion cycle (one of the lengthiest such cycles in the piece) and into the beginning of the next, Reinhard chose to introduce a separate hearing of the “Heavens Orchestra” in its fullest incarnation for a number of bars.

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none;text-autospace:none”>Ives had encouraged the free placement of these elements in isolation at any place that best introduced them to the listener. It is interesting that previously Ives never expressed similar suggestions for any of the rest of his music. The importance he placed in identifying the sonic landscape of this anything-but-familiar sounding essay thus is clear, its independent components pivotal in his conception.

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Image by Chris Pearson

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line-height:115%”>More than one hearing will likely be necessary in order to fully grasp the motivic makeup of “Earth Orchestra” material, the starkly stated introduction setting the scene for the incoming “Pulse of the Cosmos”; striking motivic cues contained within the material eventually will be identifiable within the upcoming larger main A Section. Beginning with an ominous deep assemblage of low tones (an “Earth Chord”), the fragment—having been taken from the end of the section, and that represents, per Ives, “Earth formed”—features sonic impressions of its mature physical features. The jagged melodic/rhythmic elements seem quite believably symbolic of rocks, outcroppings and jagged cliffs; order has risen out of primordial chaos. So identified, continual usage of this very material appears throughout Section A, ultimately possible to differentiate from the more linear development of the same motifs in the “Heavens Orchestra.” In all, just four motifs comprise the entire melodic fabric, typically joined into linear chains. Though interrelated and woven in dense counterpoint, these motifs do not appear in identical guises along the way; it is their endless variants that feature similar intervallic, rhythmic and melodic relationships that impart their specific character and sound.

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line-height:115%”>II: Prelude #1—Pulse Of The Cosmos

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line-height:115%”>Using a massive battery of tuned and non-tuned percussion instruments, the ten cycles of “The Pulse of the Cosmos” were intended to represent endless time and limitless space. Beginning in the guise as the massive Prelude to Section A, and then continuing as an undercurrent throughout the length of the symphony, it represents a kind of cosmic “heartbeat.” The “Pulse” seems to parallel in musical terms Einstein’s space-time continuum, and also Pythagoras’ ancient view of mathematically balanced order—a circular chain of inevitability at the very core of the symphony.

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.25in;line-height:115%;mso-outline-level:1;tab-stops:0in”>One should try to immerse oneself in at least some of the extremely long first prelude (a half hour), occupying three of the ten total cycles.1 (The author is not alone in commenting upon that curious sense of waiting at the end of each Basic Unit (BU)—sixteen seconds—just prior to the alignment of all of the instruments again at the beginning of the next BU.)
11.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”> Even though Ives considered hearing the hypnotic, trancelike “Pulse” alone for the full three cycles to be an important step in preparing the ear and mind for all that is to follow, quite frankly, to appreciate its special power and pacing comes only as an acquired benefit after one has become extremely familiar with the symphony, as a whole. Only after the total proportions of the symphony have been fully comprehended—curiously, it seems to contract with repeated hearings—does the percussion prelude begin to resonate fully.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Cycle 1 features non-tuned percussion only, and a large succession of added divisions, before reversing by subtraction out of the cycle.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Cycle 2 is shorter, based only on divisions of prime numbers; by now, the ear and mind have absorbed something of the inevitable “pulse.”

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       At the tail end of Cycle 2 and 3 Reinhard introduced the “Heavens Orchestra” fragment. Ives specified that any of the appropriate material could be introduced at fitting moments during this portion of the symphony, leaving matters of content and placement to the interpreters.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Cycle 3 differs in that tuned percussion, piano and piccolo add to the regular non-tuned divisions a series of cycles of irregular pitches (similar to, though not quite 12-tone rows!).

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line-height:115%”>III: Section A—Wide Valleys And Clouds

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line-height:115%”>This long, dense and complex segment is the first extended orchestral segment, and utilizes the most detailed and fully worked out sketches of the entire work, mostly left by Ives in short score, ready to copy into a long form fair copy. The section also poses perhaps the greatest aural challenge of the symphony, since it is the musical representation of primordial chaos. However, its extraordinary coloration might prove just sufficient to inspire the listener to keep looking for aural handrails, to return again for just one more glimpse of scenes increasingly revealed from what seems at first buried in a musical haze.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Cycle 4 (followed by the succeeding cycles) coincides with the beginning of Section A.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       The section, beginning in a manner more like a second prelude to Section A, opens in quiet mystery with a low “Earth Chord,” and is gradually interrupted by compounding counterpoint of low “Earth” material built from the motifs introduced in the opening fragment, with swelling chordal sonorities brooding in the higher strings. Ives described the wide landscape and distant horizons in his sketch materials.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       This moody opening gradually builds with more detailed motivic development, as entrances of the “Heavens Orchestra” appear in various lockstep chord groups—representing cloud formations in the sky—and divided between flutes and violins, already moving independently of the “Earth Orchestra.” The intervals between tones of “cloud” chords are systematically ordered, rather than randomly constructed, and move, also by systematically controlled degrees, in rhythmically independent in blocks. Though not yet turned loose in an actual different speed—the purpose being as much musical as it has been functional—it allows the listener to gain more familiarity with the sonically separate orchestral layers. The music leads up to a grand dramatic pause.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Following the pause (Ives labeled this moment, “Earth Created”), the “clouds” of the “Heavens Orchestra” take off, moving precipitously faster, and further divide into several independent “cloud” systems built according to their own specific cyclic or other formulae. Though set in independent speeds, they are governed by the one overall faster speed of the “Heavens Orchestra.” As the music proceeds, the fullest manifestation of Ives’s parallel listening is revealed.

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line-height:115%”>Through extended portions of much of the movement, the lower orchestral group (the “Earth Orchestra”) counterbalances the “sky” and “cloud” groups above it (the “Heavens Orchestra”), in register, individual “cloud” motion being invariably smoother and more linear than that of the “terrestrial“ counterpoint. Although one might not be aware of the different overall tempi, per se, of each group, before long, few listeners will be unable to detect the motion of the orchestra of the skies, seeming to float along at a faster pace than that of the orchestra below—reminiscent of the wafting movement of transient clouds over a terrestrial scene. Highly significant to the music and the near “supernatural” nature of its construction, Ives also worked within a system of tonal organization—in what he termed “orbital harmonies”—during this portion of the symphony, in which the vaguely stated tonalities would occasionally align in the manner of the planets. The writer has isolated a systematically balanced pattern of coincident tones and tonal spaces, aligned within mathematically organized periodic intervals over the course of the major portion of Section A. Comprising an almost inconceivably ordered logic, they are not, however, obvious to the listener, although they do provide a larger harmonic structure to the music, and greatly contribute to its integrated, yet constantly shifting sound, as well as existing within other ingenious manifestations of the “Trinity Code” (see discussion again of the Scherzo in the
normal”>Fourth Symphony
, Chapter 10).

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line-height:115%”>Wishing to draw attention to the Earth and Heavens, for much of the section, Ives strategically separated the register of pitches between the two groups by as much half an octave (between B below middle C, and E above). However, even he allowed that it necessarily could not be maintained precisely throughout the section, as his ear and imagination dictated less rigid structure. Should it be problematic to focus on all levels simultaneously, Ives asked only that the listener remain aware of them, while focusing on one at a time. In the Universe Symphony one never was supposed to isolate everything in detail, all of the time; rather, the freedom to shift attention from one level to the next at will, without losing awareness of the other levels. Thus, the music will reveal different aspects with each listening.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       The “Earth” texture soon expands into higher territory, most obviously in the jagged or ascending trumpet and clarinet lines, then expands further into the low brass—all of which can be identified by having a totally different idiom and speed to the “Heavens Orchestra” music. One might become aware of various technical features, especially the scales of different intervals (such as whole tones) that Ives referenced in his descriptions of the mechanical fabric for the Universe Symphony.
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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       In character, much of the “Earth Orchestra” counterpoint is angular, with various parts opposing others, and supposed to represent Earth in its formation: the “outcroppings” Ives referenced, mountain peaks, ravines, canyons, etc.—everything comprising the random chaos of nature at work. It is not hard to visualize the panoramas Ives was trying to portray (from his position high on the plateau), and his successful representation of them.

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line-height:115%”>The challenge is to separate the moving musical lines, and to interpret them as other than disjointed activity and motion. Although the representation of cloud movement with the movement of the “Heavens Orchestra” is a visual to sonic parallel, the same is not true of “Earth” material. Because music is built around time, rhythms, and low to high pitches, any intrinsic musical motion might easily be interpreted as actual physical motion, even when not so desired, as in the representations of clouds in the music. Thus, since jagged and rapid movements comprise much of the writing within the “Earth Orchestra,” one might visualize bustling streets and car horns, for example—exactly the opposite to what Ives had in mind! Furthermore, the conflict between the gentler fabric of the “Heavens Orchestra” and the angularity of the “Earth Orchestra” might easily be perceived as just a conglomerated stirring unless a conscious effort is made to separate them. To know Ives’s intent is to understand his music.

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line-height:115%”>There is also a natural tendency, however, for the higher trumpet and clarinet lines to dominate the “Earth” group, and so ideally one should set one’s listening equipment to bring maximum emphasis to the mid-low range, no less significant than anything else within the whole. Beyond the “Heavens” and “Earth,” of course, the “Pulse of the Cosmos” continues to weave in and out of the texture; the writing above is to a degree dependent on the nature of the particular cycle coinciding, and position in the overall waveform.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       After an extended segment of “Earth” and “Heavens” soundscapes, including two direct references to Nearer, My God to Thee (Bethany), first in the trumpet and clarinet lines, then clarinet alone a fifth higher, the “Earth Orchestra” moves together into a massive high point, like the thrusting up of a mountain peak. The jagged surrounding “landscape” begins to recede; it seems like a depiction of clearing skies, over smoother contoured lines in the “Earth Orchestra,” perhaps, the calmer plain of the plateau itself.

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line-height:115%”>The matter of the correct tempo  

line-height:115%;tab-stops:0in”>When
line-height:115%”>the quotes from Bethany leap out of the surrounding maze of sound—in Reinhard’s realization—they appear in the normally expected tempo, which should end any further discussion about the correct speed of Section A. It is significant that Ives hardly ever quoted materials, especially religious, at speeds other than in their original context, except in rare instances when the transformation resulted in another equally dignified incarnation. For example, in what is often incorrectly termed the “Harvest Scene” in Thanksgiving and Forefathers Day, Ives miraculously transformed the hymn The Shining Shore into a lively segment, just as dignified, but utterly symbolic of the festive spirit of the holiday he was trying to convey. In other instances, such as in the Fugue in Four Keys: on “The Shining Shore,” the melody and its matched counterpart, Azmon, appear both moderately paced and a faster tempo, simply because these tunes, as in certain other instances, can be sung within a range of speeds. The significant point to understand is that at no time do they appear hurried, or otherwise outside their characteristic contexts.

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line-height:115%”>It is also clear that in the Universe Symphony, the quotes are not merely the chance placement of tones, because they are distinct entities, separate from the motivically derived material that precedes, follows, or surrounds them. Thus in Austin’s realization, the hymn’s references are not recognizable as quoted derivations; they sound flippant, almost comical, cartoon-like, further disproving his position that Ives’s tempo indication should have been placed at one second per beat and not two. Such observations are made in light of the difficulties of making out the fragments underneath Austin’s frenetic percussion.

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line-height:115%”>(Section A cont’d):

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Immediately preceding the slow calming of the texture is a brief reference to Massa’s in de Cold Ground in the trumpets, taken from the end of the bridge from the refrain. Again, though not a religious melody, in this context, the tempo renders this fragment recognizable, further confirming that Ives’s tempo indication was correct.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Following this extended segment, a differently textured middle section is easily identified by the prominence of the piano, over a more rapid, thinner cloud movement in the flutes and oboes, providing contrast after the preceding sonorities. This segment was considered lost, never written, or missing prior to Reinhard’s deductions and realization (see Appendix 2), and was based largely on Erie (What a Friend) and Bethany (Nearer, My God to Thee). After a repeated segment on each side (the high trumpets playing a line with high dissonant long tones just a half step apart), a lush contrasting middle part intercedes with a vaguely impressionistic sound and deep, spacious chords. Although Ives did not specify what these sketches represent, they set the stage well for balance and proportion that leads to a brief return of the earlier sonorities of the main section and its conclusion.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       The formerly established momentum now resumes in a segment Ives sketched in the later period to complete the section; along with the familiar cloud movement, the “Earth Orchestra” texture is familiar, though does not linger for long. Some truly otherworldly sounds begin to emanate from the “Heavens” as the “Earth” below backs away and largely dissipates. Is it the landscape at night with clearing skies? It is hard to imagine how such remarkable sounds emanated in Ives’s day—its electronic sounding character years ahead of the time during which the symphony was conceived. As the horns and trombones again take the leading role the “Earth Orchestra” builds to another block; large rock formations again dominate the perspective.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·       Suddenly, everything stops towards the conclusion of Section A; the “Earth formed” segment again that begins Reinhard’s realization is placed precisely according to Ives’s connecting icons at the conclusion. Since the verbal terminology Ives utilized represents a subtle difference from that of earlier in the section (“Earth created”), should one presume the conclusion to Section A represents the difference between creation and the state that Earth ultimately attained (“Earth
mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>formed
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line-height:115%”>Section A, because of its complexity and scale, and perhaps more than Sections B and C, will not fully reveal itself without numerous hearings and a serious effort to identify the separate components. Without normal cross-references, it creates an illusion of very free form; to help unravel the tangle, one needs to permit the sonic representations of programmatic entities to form and establish themselves in the ear and mind.

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color:black”>IV: Prelude #2—Birth Of The Oceans

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115%;mso-outline-level:1”>Some of the sketch materials for this section are vague, especially those that begin the Prelude, although a considerable wealth of composition is present. Reinhard was able to find the clues for their assembly; he made the not unreasonable assumption that the same relative tempos between the percussion and orchestral units was to be retained:

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Seeming to depict Earth’s basins slowly filling with water: long, building tones, and more “Earth formed” chords compound upon one another in chordal entities that contain structural codes. Inner movement derived from the harmonic foundations creates anticipation. The Prelude is characterized by preliminary references to the “Free Evolution and Humanity” theme and other motivic material central to Section B.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Some chords of the “Heavens Orchestra” connect the Prelude harmonically with the end of Section A, while its second half continues to allude to the “Earth formed” passage (also of Section A), before larger sonorities envelop it in apparent representations of the ocean masses themselves.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Reinhard assigned a succession of pitches to trombone solo, followed by what can only be described as a moving, ascending cluster between the trumpets, horns and harp. Two isolated chords found on a single sketch page, and specifically designated as belonging to “Prelude #2,” lead to Section B.

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color:black”>V: Section B—Earth And The Firmament

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115%;mso-outline-level:1”>Here, Ives began to turn his attention to the vast expanses of space; this is where the Universe Symphony finally escapes the perspective of the cosmos as seen only from earthly confines.

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normal”> V: Section B; Earth And The Firmament>

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>Image courtesy NASA (Apollo 8)

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    “Earth Chords” return to the texture as a foundation; impracticality of available instrumentation made the inclusion of all that Ives indicated impractical.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A trombone finally plays the complete angular theme that represents “Free Evolution & Humanity”; many incarnations of it will appear within the section and form much of its content. The theme actually is comprised of what amounts almost to two 12-tone rows, minus a note or two.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>·    Chords built according to further remarkable systematic order can be found; in one example, all twelve tones are represented; arranged in apparent disregard of specific order, when shuffled laterally and vertically, they align themselves into a perfect mathematical order and balanced relationship.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A “just intonation machine” (in Ptolemaic untempered tuning) improvises; new, and preserved harmonic entities from Section A, represent “Heaven, Planetary skies and clouds.”

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    A sudden buildup and subsequent explosion of ultramodern sonorities seems to paint a cosmic view; moving linear and harmonic structures below the trombone theme seem closely tied to those in the opening of Section A. The fire and fury announces the only portion of the work in which the percussion also breaks its bond to the cosmic heartbeat within a bombastic and free cadenza (Cycle 7); a marble slab (!) joins the fracas.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Ives designated the middle of this sonic conflagration as the coda; in the flute, another quote from Bethany continues through to the end of the drama. It is highly significant, from a standpoint of its presence in the totality of the symphony, even if problematic to identify easily due to the surrounding complexities.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Within this portion, some astonishing mathematical “code” governs the individual lines and counterpoint, in which additions between tones (represented numerically) across diminishing arcs across their spans result in matching totals that defy the most complex explanations.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Towards the end of this awesome spectacle, the percussion once again yields to the rule of the cosmic pulse before ending the cycle (#7) abruptly at its height.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    The music settles down more reflectively, as a new percussion cycle (#8) commences suddenly; the low bell takes the largest (16-second) division alone, and the “Heavens” and “Earth” orchestras continue in dialog with colorful and fragmentary evolutions of the thematic and rhythmic content of the section, accompanied by sustained chords.

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Symbol;color:black”>·    Subsiding further, mysterious tones lead out of the section, and it concludes with the chord that, from Reinhard’s perspective, contained the most important confirming clue to the likely use of Pythagorean tuning—the use of an enharmonic “spelling” of the “same” tone within one chord. Interestingly, Philip Lambert considered the dual notation in that now famous final chord to be most likely a mistake!3

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color:black”>VI: Prelude #3—And Lo, Now It Is Night

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115%;mso-outline-level:1”>This prelude remains shrouded in mystery; it is not clear (a), whether Ives actually wrote one at all, (b), or the sketches Reinhard utilized to construct it were just a working diagram of the harmonic structure of Section C. There is a clear distinction made between this material and what is labeled the true opening of the section. Although all these materials are specified for the section, the words written at the actual start of it (as distinct from those Reinhard used for the Prelude) make its role clear: “The Earth & the Heavens,” “III.” A collective subtitle for the entire assemblage of upcoming sketches establishes two distinct parts: “And lo—now it is night” and “Earth is of the Heavens” (Section C).

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line-height:115%”>Although these subtitles indicate that the specifically labeled sketch was intended as the actual start of Section C, Reinhard argued that the “orphan” materials he had used for the prelude (labeled, “Universe Sym. 3rd Section Foreground Harmonic Basis 24 different chordal scales”) conforms to the first subtitle, “And lo—now it is night.” His position is sure to remain controversial, though it is one that he has maintained steadfastly. Regardless, despite the paucity of rhythmic or thematic designations in the sketches that he used, enough was present for Reinhard to produce something workable. Whether resembling anything along the lines of what Ives had envisaged, the instrumentation and rhythms of Reinhard’s reconstructed prelude involved the only creative decisions he made in his realization of the entire symphony.

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"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”><Insert IMAGE -
normal”> VI: Prelude #3; And Lo, Now It Is Night>

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>Image courtesy NASA, ESA, and L. Bedin (STScI); nasaimages.org

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-language:JA”>·   
mso-fareast-language:JA”>Reinhard selected another “orphan” sketch consisting of some loose, isolated tones at extreme registers; because it is a 12-tone row, it foreshadows a succession of twelve structurally systemized chords, alternating with twelve others, raised by a quarter-tone—for a total of twenty-four, designated by Ives as the harmonic/thematic foundation of Section C. The “chordal scales” provided further clues not only for the placement of some fragmentary minimally sketched materials within the section, but also Reinhard’s frequent combining of more than one sketch simultaneously.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-language:JA”>·   
mso-fareast-language:JA”>Reinhard’s creative contribution to the prelude also included a superimposition of the radical crescendos and decrescendos that appeared near the beginning of Section A, along with accumulating rhythmic energy and values, common to the predictive traits of serialism found in many of Ives’s works.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-language:JA”>·   
mso-fareast-language:JA”>Another sketch that continues the chords to the twenty-third in the series leads to the last sketch—a separate and more elaborate “patch” that seems to outline not only the twenty-fourth “chordal scale,” but also a grand “fall-off” of descending chromaticism, along with an accumulation of dramatic chordal elements.

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color:black”>VII: Sectio
n C—Earth Is Of The Heavens

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line-height:115%”>Melding into the screaming sonorities of the eerie downward spiral of the outgoing prelude, Section C explodes as if the skies have opened up; it is night, from Ives’s annotated perspective of ravines and jagged formations pointing up to the heavens, the vast vault above them represents eternity.

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color:black”><Insert IMAGE - VII: Section C; Earth Is Of The Heavens>

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115%;mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black”>NASA/courtesy of nasaimages.org

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    “Pulse”
bold”>cycle #9 commences at the outset of Section C, initially with just the low bell tone; the increasingly strident-sounding percussion divisions of the Basic Unit are left until later where they will be heard.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    As the music descends and calms, fragmentary dialog between flute and clarinet emerges from the texture, seeming to hark back to “Earth” material, which is logical, because Section C represents “Earth is Of The Heavens.” The segment includes a predictive use of “canonic phasing,” normally associated with the contemporary composer, Steve Reich, and involving a form of imitation between lines, in which one moves at a different speed to the other.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    Coming to a brief halt, two short pick-up notes herald a vast sonic panorama (and also suggest an upcoming motif in the trumpet). The segment includes striking (and hitherto unrecognized) quotes from In the Sweet Bye and Bye (flutes), and one from Bethany, (see Appendix 2).

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol”>·    At this point, the “Heavens Orchestra” once again appears as a clearly separate entity, independently moving above the fray in rhythmically moving “cloud” chords (galactic nebulae, perhaps?), though they are locked to a shared single speed. 

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:black”>·    It is followed by a short fanfare-like statement by a solo trumpet, consisting of cascading descending intervals and upward leaps, announced in short notes comprised of major and minor thirds, sometimes with a repeated tone at the lowest extremity.

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>The trumpet figure seems to resonate with the heavens and the energy of the moment. Once again, a dominant theme in a work by Ives is placed in a trumpet (or cornet) part, the constant reminder of his father long being one of Ives’s calling cards. Was George Ives calling from the depths of space to join him? It seems no coincidence that the trumpet should define the figure that heralds related motivic material throughout the first part of Section C. A hint of it even as early as the transition between Prelude #2 and Section B already had been introduced by the trombone, and prior to that, in the high solo bassoon, too. Reinhard found many tonal and musical connections between a series of undesignated fragments—that belonged logically to nowhere else but Section C, due to their unique and often clear relationships to the larger materials—the twenty-four “chordal scales” assisting greatly in their placement and alignments.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-language:JA”>·   
mso-fareast-language:JA”>Later, immediately following the trumpet statement itself, the figure appears again placed high in the violins and as an inverted variant in an overlapping connecting point of the patches in the assembly of the movement. Variations of the motif are immediately touched upon in the violas below, then the cellos, as well as in the succeeding dramatic violin writing.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-language:JA”>·   
mso-fareast-language:JA”>As “Pulse” cycle #9 reaches its high point, growing, powerful orchestral chords reach a climax at a place that Ives labeled in his sketch “SEA,” a fitting point for the massive waves of percussion activity, though hard to fathom (no pun intended) in this point of the Universe Symphony.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-language:JA”>·   
mso-fareast-language:JA”>Immediately following is a strong statement in the violins that further invokes the trumpet figure. This portion further evolves turbulently, underscored by a strongly prominent descending pizzicato line in the cellos. It should be pointed out that this sketch is connected to the First Piano Sonata, appearing on the same page as others for the Universe Symphony. Because of its very presence amidst the Universe Symphony sketches, the placement strongly argues for its inclusion, rather than disqualifying it. For those who question also the correctness, idiomatically, of the kind of pizzicato line Reinhard utilized, the Adeste Fideles section of Decoration Day features a near identical usage of lower pizzicato writing.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-language:JA”>·   
mso-fareast-language:JA”>The segment resolves as the percussion cycle winds down (seeming like a calming of the waters), with some material in the cello, appropriately scored for its register, and also to provide continuity to another larger “orphan” segment shortly to follow.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-language:JA”>·   
mso-fareast-language:JA”>Reinhard included two other short “orphan” fragments (“Sky” and “Rainbow”). It seems fair to have used them in Section C through lack of place for them elsewhere. In the first, the “3rd Sky Theme,” as well as another ascending figure, labeled “Sky,” appeared originally in Section A in the “Heavens Orchestra”; more than likely it was a sketch for the earlier section, though here, Reinhard chose to utilize it here, orchestrating the now familiar Section A “cloud” material differently. The fragment entitled “Rainbow” features a brief dialog between flute and clarinet at the outset, and appears on the sketch page to the song of that name. Kirkpatrick thought it belonged to the Universe Symphony, though it is impossible to be sure.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-language:JA”>·   
mso-fareast-language:JA”>These two short fragments lead to a more extended bridging dialog between the cello and winds that precedes the inexorable push to the finish. The sketch, dated and demonstrably written in 1915, is entitled “Theme from the Universe Symphony”; although the cello line restates the “Free Evolution & Humanity” theme of Section B, its accompanying harmonies closely link it to Section C and the late sketch of the “chordal scales”—another curious, but telling clue to the evolution of the plan and materials is the implication that some of the later sketches were, as in most of Ives’s output, later outgrowths of earlier ideas.

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Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-language:JA”>·   
mso-fareast-language:JA”>An amazing splash of pure color, and the gradual introduction microtones propels the music towards Ives’s final destination, the conclusion of the symphony. Joining into additional sketch materials (also dated and clearly from 1915), one feels the pull of growing anticipation. “Pulse” cycle #10 announces this anticipatory passage, commencing at full force from the top of the waveform (the only cycle to do so), with all the percussion instruments and divisions for the cycle in play from the start
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mso-fareast-language:JA”>The “clouds” of the “Heavens Orchestra” again appear in the skies; though still rhythmically tied to the “Earth Orchestra,” they are notated as if set at an independent speed. Their placement also ties them thematically to the upcoming sketch materials of the coda, justifying it no less than by their shared tonalities. A brief restatement of the opening “Earth Formed” material may be heard one more time, superimposed midway during the growing buildup. Joining the “clouds” in the “Heavens,” well-disguised and discreet hints of Nearer, My God to Thee can be heard in the flutes and violins.

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mso-fareast-language:JA”>Bursting upon the final coda, a final segment, marked clearly by Ives, “End of Section C, Universe Symphony,” feels as if the very fabric of the cosmos has been torn asunder, cutting loose an incredible sonic conflagration like a million fireworks in the sky—akin to the “Big Bang” itself—here it is, long before Fred Hoyle coined the term to ridicule the new cosmology of post-World War II! The high point is not unlike that of the Finale of the Fourth Symphony, which remains, perhaps, the best preparation for this entire work. Here, though, the music seems even more awe inspiring, the sketch materials being largely complete in detail, and dating—quite surprisingly—to the earlier years of the symphony's composition, before even the “chordal scales” were envisaged as the harmonic core of the section! Indeed, they are not to be found at all within the sketch.

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mso-fareast-language:JA”>Finally—in the most telling quote of all those from Bethany—a substantial portion of the refrain is quoted in the flutes at the outset of the celestial explosion, descending as the bass line ascends; never was it more appropriate than here to lead to the conclusion of Ives’s journey to the stars. Since clear references to the hymn were made in the same manner within the materials leading up to the coda, they should remove any remaining doubts that the link from those sketches to the coda was justified. However, the sonic spectacle is so awesome that identifying the hymn amidst all else that it happening could be a challenge. Rest assured; it is there.

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mso-fareast-language:JA”>Gradually the massive sonics are shed, a “wind shear” remaining of all that has passed leaving one in a near trance. It is punctuated by leaping solo bassoon intervals in shaded microtonal tuning, finally tinged by a strange superimposed fading organ chord seeming to come from some distant horizon, (similar to those that have characterized moments in the work, such as toward the conclusion of Section B). Although seemingly at odds with its surroundings, magically, the chord somehow is in total accord with them, as an utterly universal expression of eternity leading to a silent backdrop for one last deep bell tone that rings into eternity.

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line-height:115%”>If no person ever has imagined a mightier scene painted in sound, or achieved it with such systematically extraordinary—near extra-terrestrial means—for Ives it was the culmination of a lifetime of building a means to express himself. Arriving at his destination with deliberate resolution, one is left to share some of what he pondered as he viewed and contemplated the great unknown from the high Keene Valley Plateau long ago. Ives’s greatest creative moment, the Universe Symphony, was his homage to man’s place in the cosmic realm. As the sonic manifestation of his own destiny, finally he had reached the goals set in motion early in his life. That he had been so driven, and had dared not rest—nor, especially, die!—until he had done so, suddenly has meaning for all who wish to walk in his steps and view the cosmos through his vision.

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line-height:115%;tab-stops:0in”>Is Reinhard’s realization the Symphony of Ives’s imagination?

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>It is significant that the very fabric—the actual notes that are heard by the listener—of Reinhard’s realization of the Universe Symphony all are by Ives, unembellished, “unimproved,” and unadorned. The grandeur of the work that Ives imagined seems undiminished by his failure to complete a finished score. Those who say that it cannot be known what might be missing or never was sketched, only have to hark back to Ives’s own words from 1931. Certainly no evidence, other than the later grandiose words that became attached to it, indicates that he had further ideas in mind for the work than contained in the existing materials. In addition to Reinhard’s own documentation, further information on its assembly can be found in Appendix 2, and cannot be found in any other available source.

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>Inasmuch as Reinhard included virtually all of the sketches, and determined the sequence best to present them mostly in lieu of anything specified, he assembled a coherent and musically viable chain that readily states its case. One can argue that the musical connections between the sketches from many musical and technical standpoints strongly confirm their placement and usage, although some continue to question Ives’s intention to finish it, the completeness of the materials, even whether it is possible to fulfill the elaborate, yet convoluted, directives. Regardless, Reinhard’s realization is a satisfyingly structured work, convincingly laid out and resembling the model of Ives’s originally stated inspiration and final plan—so imposing and profound that one can argue that it has earned a place alongside the Fourth Symphony—continuing where the last notes of the former left off. The final reference to Bethany (having appeared in each section), as the last quoted tune in all of Ives’s symphonic work, and one that increasingly occupied his thoughts, seems further to affirm that Ives indeed had reached his spiritual destiny, having won his race against time to find the place in eternity from which his father long had beckoned. And it is ever clearer that at the end of this road there was no compelling reason for Ives to write anything more.

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 JA”>REFERENCES

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>1.

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normal”>Charles Ives UNIVERSE SYMPHONY realized by Johnny Reinhard
, AFMM Orchestra, The Stereo Society 837101048521 (CD) [2005].

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>2.

10.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”> Charles E. Ives, Memos, ed. John Kirkpatrick (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1972) 107–108.

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line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”>3.

10.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-fareast-language:JA”> Philip Lambert, The Music of Charles Ives (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1997), 197–199.



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APPENDIX 1

Revising Ives

 

 

 

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normal”>In the 1980’s a period of re-evaluating the composer briefly tarnished Ives’s image of ascendancy. Many of the negative assessments did not deserve the traction they gained in the first place, but it was fair to ask questions. In 1975, following a less than completely head-over-heals portrait by Frank Rossiter,
1 the revisionist period for Ives began in earnest, with the publication of a now infamous article by Maynard Solomon.2 Overnight, it garnered international attention, prompting many eager critics to seize upon any opportunity to dismiss America’s new favorite musical son as some kind of fraud, at least in as much as his claim to priority in twentieth century music was concerned. The debunking by some has continued in some measure until this day, as it appears not everyone in America wants to be convinced of the significance of their own great native musical icon.

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line-height:115%”>Some of those who had been stunned to read Solomon’s article immediately went on the offensive, choosing to label him an “Ives hater” out to discredit his music, though it seems that was not Solomon’s intention at all. Rather than trying to diminish the quality or artistic value of Ives’s work, in the community of musicologists, there had long existed a degree of frustration with Kirkpatrick’s catalog of Ives’s output, because it did not comply with standard musicological protocol. The larger community had never embraced Kirkpatrick as an equal, because he lacked credentials in the field—a truly unfortunate stance for them to have taken, because Kirkpatrick’s depth of knowledge about Ives still remains without par. Solomon questioned Ives’s character and actions, setting the stage for challenging the dates assigned Ives’s works by Kirkpatrick. It is easy to see, too, that Ives’s standing as the “Father of American music” might not have met with the approval of some, simply because they might have seen him as too radical a figure—in their eyes, too “un-American” to be accorded the honor—even though enlightened thinkers know that Ives’s life was the epitome of what it means to be an American.

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line-height:115%”>In the 1930’s, long before Rossiter’s book came on the scene, the late Elliot Carter, the prominent American composer, a one time protégé of Ives, and thoroughly
European-trained musician (under Nadia Boulanger) entered the fray. Carter jealously asserted that he had witnessed Ives adding dissonances to Putnam’s Camp, (the second movement of Three Places in New England), during a visit with him in 1929.3 Carter wondered just how original Ives really had been at the time he was composing his “supposedly” pioneering music. With this kind of “evidence” in hand, Solomon added to it, subsequently charging Ives with possible “falsification” involving the supposed pre-dating of his manuscripts, while questioning his motives, even his psychiatric makeup. One can only presume that this charge triggered Feder’s psychobiography, even if he did not agree with Solomon’s assessment.4

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115%”>To admirers of Ives, one of the worst aspects of the whole episode was that Americans were devouring their own, having for so long sought such a champion in their midst. Ives was declared guilty in the public courts without a trial. Most, if not all, of the revisionism had come from American critics and not from overseas. During Ives’s day, critics routinely would accept the avant-garde in music when it emanated from European composers, but not from domestic figures. In the same light, Ives’s music initially was found more acceptable and interesting in Europe than at home, so that in a very real sense, the recent period of negative assessments
in America revealed that nothing much had changed. All of this might have been fine if all American composers were treated with the same degree of, dare we say, suspicion.

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Charles Ives in 1913, shortly after the first complete draft of


115%”>Three Places in New England

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normal”>The “Ives Legend”

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line-height:115%”>The negative portrait of Ives came about largely in reaction to the unrealistic picture painted of him in the 1930’s, principally through the efforts of the avant-garde American composer Henry Cowell, a fine composer himself and a young leader of new music in America. Needing a strong paternal figure for American music, and especially in establishing its priority during the period of innovation in the new century, Cowell found in Ives the figure he had been searching for. Although Cowell’s enthusiasm was highly instrumental in bringing Ives’s music to the foreground, it is possible he became a little carried away with his narrative in rescuing the little-known composer and his cause from obscurity. Although there is nothing to implicate Cowell in any deliberate exaggerations, had he anticipated the age of revisionism, he might have anticipated a little more carefully the potential hazards of misunderstanding the statements of others.

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line-height:115%”>Rossiter termed the aura surrounding the life and music of Charles Ives as the “Ives Legend.” Ives was an authentic American original, the first true voice in American music; as the supreme promoter of Ives’s music, Cowell, with his wife, Sidney, would write the first account of the composer and his life.
5 However, through his efforts, was born the larger Ives legacy, in which exaggerated claims grew, although there was indeed more than a grain of truth in all the claims: Ives’s early experimental works from before, and immediately after, the turn of the twentieth century really do predate those of most others, and his father really had been the most significant musical influence in his life.

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line-height:115%”>The “Legend” increasingly distorted the image of the lone composer, neglected and scorned by society, totally unaffected by, even unaware of, any of the musical developments in the outside world, his musical education almost exclusively due to his prophetic father, at odds with his teacher at Yale, Horatio Parker (almost to the degree that he graduated in spite of him), and who, purely to keep his artistic integrity intact, dutifully made the choice to pursue a business career, and infused his music with an American voice. Although the story would become “embroidered” with a gilded thread, revisionists saw it as a sizable target, and the brutally opposite stance did Ives’s reputation great harm. In fact, all of the items on the gilded laundry list essentially were true.

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none;text-autospace:none”>Regardless, Ives became a sitting duck for negative agendas, and the upshot of Solomon’s article was surely as unkind as it was declarative an act of war on one of the finest and most generous souls to have been born with musical talent. Flying in the face of everything previously believed about the composer and man, effectively Solomon reduced Ives to the status of some kind of con artist; Feder’s assault in its wake turned him into a mentally disturbed psychiatric case. Quickly, his followers rallied around their hero, though at the time they did not have the means to mount a proper defense. The damage has been compounded since within “Ives scholarship,” although it seems the outside world prefers to stick with the original, as reflected by countless program notes for concerts and recordings. Revisionists continue to project the most controversial justifications for new interpretations of his life and the dates of his compositions. However, thanks to diligent research, and the fairer perspectives by other noted scholars and interested parties, a more careful examination of all the facts surrounding the composer has begun to cast new light, and with it a much more balanced portrait. Ives surely will emerge little the worse for wear, and the shabby treatment he has received increasingly contrasted against reality, although the same cannot be assured his detractors.

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line-height:115%”>Providing the real grist for the revisionists’ mill, however, were Solomon’s assertions that Ives might just have “cooked the books” regarding the dates of his compositions. Why would this be important? Significantly, the Ives “mystique” centered on the claims of those promoting his music that uncannily, he was working in most twentieth century techniques long ahead of others. Ives’s usage of these techniques themselves was not in question, but the claim of his priority was. However, one only has to examine Ives’s known innovative work at the turn of the century (and even before) to realize what he had accomplished. Because his supporters, perhaps, had emphasized it as a “reason for being’ in and of itself, Ives, however, had
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