In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

At the end of the summer of 1903, Ives and a friend from Poverty Flat, George Lewis, dragged some lumber up Pine Mountain, a property the Brewster family owned in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and built a small shanty for a rustic camp. “But did it unbeknownst to Aunt Amelia fearing adverse suggestions,” Ives reported to his friend Dave Twichell. “It makes a good young camp. . . . We spent the night on the mountain. Having no curtains on the window, it took 2 hours of kind words to get the old scrinch to disrobe. He being afraid that some farmer’s wives in the next house (about 3 miles down in the valley) would peek at him.”1 Although just four miles from downtown Danbury, Pine Mountain is still a beautiful wilderness spot; a steep wooded path leads to the Ives campsite on a rocky bluff, where suddenly a vista opens out to the unspoiled hills beyond and valleys below. Ives spent many weekends and summer vacation weeks there over the next few years; a number of Ives’s music manuscripts from this time bear the notation “Pine Mt.” It was at Pine Mountain the following summer, two months before his thirtieth birthday, that Ives completed the score sketches of several works that boldly advanced his ideas of recreating musical memory and the sound impressions of outdoor music making. Overture and March “1776” was originally conceived as the overture of a projected opera based on a play his Uncle Lyman had written about Major John André, a British army officer hanged as a spy during the American Revolution. The piece includes a bitonal harmonization of “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean,” a tune that would be a sort of idée fixe for Ives over the years, its appearance often a sign (as the pianist and Ives interpreter Jeremy Denk observed) chapter 6 Missionary Enterprise Budiansky - Mad Music.indb 109 1/23/2014 5:13:41 PM 110 • mad music that “all hell will break loose” in one of his pieces. The bitonal section is another one of Ives’s humorous invocations of musical mishaps; on the pencil score-sketch he explained that this was based on something he had no doubt heard in real life, the cornet players getting their crooks mixed up so some were playing in A, others in Bf. In a similar wrong-note passage of “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” in “The Fourth of July” movement of the New England Holidays Symphony, Ives wrote an explanatory note to his copyist, warning him not to change the “wrong” notes: “Band stuff— they didnt always play it right & together & it was good either way.”2 Lyman Brewster died in February of that year of 1904 and Ives never attempted to complete the opera, but later he combined Overture and March “1776” with a similarly high-spirited work, the “Country Band” March, which also probably dates from around this time, to create the second movement of his orchestral set Three Places in New England. (Entitled “Putnam’s Camp,” the movement is a dream-fantasy of a Fourth of July celebration at the park of that name in Redding where Ives often went as a boy, a site where troops of the Continental army encamped for a winter during the Revolutionary War. Remains of the original stone hearths of the log huts built at the camp can still be seen there, and in Ives’s program notes for the movement he imagines a boy wandering off from the Fourth of July picnic amid the sounds of the village cornet band, falling asleep, and dreaming of seeing Putnam’s soldiers marching out of the camp.) The “Country Band” March is a more extended send-up of a small-town band trying to keep it together through miscounted beats, late entrances, and misread key signatures as a dozen familiar tunes—“Arkansas Traveler ,” “London Bridge,” and “The British Grenadiers” among them—do battle. In the final frenetic thirty seconds the tunes and rhythms pile up in monumental cacophony, and then the piece ends with a lone alto saxophone that fails to cut off with the rest of the band. On a sketch of the work from this time Ives recorded the judgment of some of the Poverty Flat roommates: “Geo., Bart, Tony M—three quite right critics!!—say I haven’t got the tune right, and the chords are wrong.” But on another page he added, “Keyes says these notes are O.K.—he is...

pdf

Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.