Charles Ives in the Mirror
American Histories of an Iconic Composer
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: Music in American Life
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
It has been just under a decade since I first set out to explore Ives’s “afterlives,” a term I am borrowing (and creatively misreading) from Walter Benjamin’s well-known essay about the task of a translator. In that period, I have had many Virgils and one Beatrice to guide me along the way. ...
Charles Edward Ives is a stolid New England name. For those who know it, it is likely to conjure up images of a man in old age, bearded, clutching a cane, perhaps his bald pate exposed, but more likely hidden beneath a dilapidated old hat. In photographs, when he looks at the camera directly, there is mischief in his eyes that belies his years; ...
1. Conservative Transcendentalist or Modernist Firebrand?: Ives and His First Publics, 1921–1934
Early in 1921, several hundred Americans were puzzled to discover an unsolicited package in their mail that contained a pair of books.1 The larger of the two was bound in dark red cloth, and on the cover, framed by horizontal double lines, gilt lettering with a curlicued “M” and “E” lent a modest decorative touch. ...
2. Songs of Our Fathers The Advocacy of Henry Cowell and the Appeal of the American Past, 1927–1947
Contemporary photographs show a young man dressed in an oversized tailcoat and pinstripe pants, his hair slightly longer than fashionable, earnestly pounding away at a grand piano with his fists and forearms or clawing with equal aplomb at the instrument’s innards. This was Henry Cowell at the zenith of his musical celebrity during the 1920s (Figure 2.1). ...
3. Winning Hearts and Minds: Ives as Cold War Icon, 1947–1965
In 1950, sociologists David Riesman, Reuel Denney, and Nathan Glazer published a study of American culture with an enigmatic title: The Lonely Crowd. Though unflattering, depicting Americans as obsessed with the opinions of their neighbors, colleagues, and friends, the study resonated with the very people that it anatomized. ...
4. The Prison of Culture: Ives, American Studies, and Intellectual History, 1965–1985
On the evening of Sunday October 20, 1974, the 100th birthday of Charles E. Ives, a concert took place in honor of the composer at his alma mater, Yale University. As the members of the audience filed into Woolsey Hall, they were met by the sight of two enormous banners strung from the proscenium arch, framing the central bank of pipes of the fabled Newberry Memorial organ ...
5. Musicology Makes Its Mark: Ives and the History of Style, 1965–1985
Two Californian stalwart supporters of Charles Ives were among the celebrants who descended on New York in October 1974 for the Charles Ives Centennial Festival-Conference. Peter Yates had been one of Ives’s earliest devotees, a mystical modernist enraptured by the transcendentalist overtones of the later works in the output of the composer. ...
6. Ives at Century’s Turn
“Is an icon becoming a has-been?”1 This was the question New York Times critic Donal Henahan posed in April 1987, after Leonard Bernstein decided to cancel a scheduled performance of Ives’s Fourth Symphony. Indeed there was evidence that a certain amount of ennui had set in with respect to Ives. ...
Postscript: “So What Do You Think about Ives?”
It was a Sunday morning, the last session of a sleepy meeting of the Pacific-Southwest chapter of the American Musicological Society, and perilously close to lunchtime. A handful of stalwarts were scattered sparsely around the lecture hall as I stepped to the podium to read my paper. ...
About the Author, Further Reading, Production Note, Back Cover