Ives, Charles

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Ives, Charles

Charles Ives (īvz), 1874–1954, American composer and organist, b. Danbury, Conn., grad. Yale, 1898; pupil of Dudley Buck and Horatio Parker. He was an organist (1893–1904) in churches in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. In the insurance business from 1898 to 1930, Ives was concurrently composing music that was extremely original, iconoclastic, and advanced in style, anticipating some of the innovations of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, but not influencing musical trends because most of his works were not published as they were written. They were little known until 1939, when performance of his second piano sonata, Concord (1911–15), won him wide recognition. In 1947 his Third Symphony was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Ives's compositions include four numbered symphonies, orchestral suites, sonatas, organ pieces, choral works, a great deal of chamber music, and about 150 songs. His works are frequently dissonant, harmonically dense, and lushly scored with complexly layered themes, textures, and rhythms. In addition, he often uses vernacular American music, e.g., folk music, hymns and spirituals, marches, dances, rags, blues, and parlor songs, in his compositions, evoking the spirit of such aspects of American life as revival meetings and brass-band parades.

See his Essays before a Sonata (new ed. 1962) and his Memos, ed. by J. E. Kirkpatrick (1972); biographies by H. and S. Cowell (rev. ed. 1969) and S. Budiansky (2014); V. Perlis, Charles Ives Remembered (1974); R. S. Perry, Charles Ives and the American Mind (1974); H. W. Hitchcock, Ives (1977).

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