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Thread: Charles Ives

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Default Charles Ives

    You all knew somebody was going to put this one up...

    He was the composer who foretold musical events before they happened: quarter-tones, polytonality, multiple time- and key-signatures at the same time, tone clusters... all before any Schoenbergs or Bartoks or those guys ever so much as thought of their innovations.

    But then again, the guy was ignored basically until all the aforementioned "innovations" were made, thus the (unjustified) confusion over who really thought them all up FIRST.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Ives was a truly great composer. Not only did he write really big works, in all senses, like the symphonies, he was also a great song writer and I believe wrote some of the greatest songs of the twentieth century.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    I find him more listenable than Schoenberg and maybe even Bartok. He was definitely an outsider artist. I enjoy "Hallowe'en" and "The Gong on the Hook and Ladder" among others.

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    If you ever get the opportunity listen to 'Tom Sails Away' - one of the most moving songs I know.

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    Junior Member Zombo's Avatar
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    Awesome composer, I love his symphonies and his microtonal piano works.

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    A year or two ago the Dallas Symphony did a series of compositions which were written by Ives. I attended some of these performances and generally enjoy the music Ives wrote but he eventually stopped composing and ran an insurance company.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    He ran an insurance company while he was composing anyway. This provided him with financial security while he composed works that were pretty well doomed to obscurity almost until he died.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    It's a shame about Ives being totally obscure during his lifetime, but then again so was Arnold Bax and we all know what an amazing composer he was.

    I own several recordings by Ives. One of with Bernstein and the others with Michael Tilson Thomas and various orchestras like Chicago Symphony and Concertgebouw Orch. Amsterdam.

    I love his work and really admire what he did and just how creative those pieces he wrote are. Very underrated composer in every sense.

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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    Immensely intelligent composer. Lots of admiration from Bach.
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoppi90111 View Post
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    I've just become reacquainted with Ives after a long time. Yesterday I borrowed the Naxos disc of his Three Orchestral Sets from the library. It's really interesting music, very individual. Just what I've come to expect from the composers in that circle in New York during the 1920's which Ives was part of - it included Varese, Cowell & Carter.

    There is something very dark about some of the music on this disc. The music seems to suggest night in the outdoors to me, with people sitting around a campfire in the bush. The orchestration reminds me more of operatic than orchestral composers, particularly Puccini's Turandot & Berg's operas. It is very luscious in some places, and he doesn't lock you in with a melody or a particular rhythm. It's quite free, really, like the music of those other composers. Hard to believe that it was written in the 1910's & '20's. There's also something dramatic about this music, particularly in the way marching band themes sometimes interrupt the proceedings. I've come to the conclusion that I must buy this disc at some stage, I have enjoyed it so much!

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    Yesterday on the radio I heard Ives' First Symphony, which I hadn't listened to for a long time.
    I was reminded of all the things I like about Ives: his unusually piquant harmonies and quirky melodies above all.

    Ives' First is a wonderful symphony, as are his Second and Third.

    One of the interesting things about Ives is his unique space-time: turn-of-the-century Connecticut.
    That space-time was special and never to be repeated.
    (Of course, that could be said of all space-times, but we prioritize everything, don't we?)

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    Made huge leaps in conveying philosophy through art, including the great aggregate harmonies in his unfinished Universe Symphony.

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    I really like his "From the Salvation Army" quartet, lyricism enough. The second one is more complex , Ives described the piece “Four men--converse, discuss, argue--fight, shake hands, shut up--then walk up the mountainside to view the firmament.”

    I also learn that the violist from Concord String quartet is also in Blair SQ. I have both of their recording playing Ives.

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    Could someone describe to me the inspiration Ives had for his polytonal/quarter-tone experiments? In other words, why did he do it?
    "Music is an art, and art is forever. Music should not succumb to fashion, which is passing and forgotten."
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