Reconciliation: time, space and the American place in the music of Charles Ives
Cooney, Denise von Glahn
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One of the most durable of the myths surrounding Charles Ives and his music is the myth of his isolation. But, while it is true that Ives was never closely associated with any single group of professional musicians during his active life as a composer, his highly successful insurance work, his spontaneous responses to important local, regional, and national issues, and most importantly his music provide overwhelming evidence that Ives actively sought out and participated in a wider culture. Ives's music shows a person directly involved with ideas that were of interest to vast numbers of Americans--not only composers, artists, writers, philosophers, and historians, but also "everyman."Ives sought to devise an artistic expression that would embody the range of his involvement in his culture and convey his distinctive sense of America. He created a music that responded in two very distinct ways. The first was by quoting tunes--melodies and rhythms--that had long been associated with the culture of the Northeast in the nineteenth century. In doing so, Ives spoke to many people who were familiar with such references. Yet to touch a larger audience--one that might, as a result of time or distance, have no personal experience with those beloved musical memories--Ives had to refer to something more enduring, something more permanent, something that would transcend time and space. A second, more integral response was necessary.Ives found this enduring reference in the American place. He found an unmistakable way to identify a piece of music as being about America that was not as susceptible to fleeting memory as a melody: a way to call attention to the bountiful nation about which he felt so passionately. And Ives was passionate about America. Ives's use of place in his music reveals a web of personal and historical interconnections that "place" him directly in the mainstream of American culture. Using five "place pieces," this study will examine Ives's active involvement in numerous facets of American culture.
- Music