Ives, Charles Edward

Danbury, Connecticut 1874 - New York 1954




An American composer from the United States, Ives was a student under his father who was a band conductor, then he studied at Yale under H. Packer. In 1887 he became the organist for the Bloomfield Baptist Church. While in New York, till 1902, he was unable to reconcile his own style as composer (marked by constant and experimental research) with the reality of European music which was well founded on the late Romantic accademic thought (starting from the Brahmsian style).
It was thus that he became a successful insurance broker. This gave him the time to compose and to express the sensations, sounds and his inner soul in music with a new language which resulted in an anticipation of today's music.
In 1930 Ives retired from his business, and some years later from composing. It was only a few years after this that his music was taken up by the young American music schools.


Unaccented pieces include: Three Pages Sonata for piano (1905), From Steeples and the Mountains for trumpet, trombone e 4 series of bells (1901). His polytonal work includes: In the Cage for chamber orchestra (1906); chromatic Chromâtimelôdtune for brass quartet and piano (1919 c. ); microtonal: Three quarter Tone Piano Pieces for two pianos.
He also wrote 150 Songs for voice and piano, choral music (sacred), Piano music such as Concord Mass 1940-60 (Sonata II for piano, 1910-15); chamber music such as two String Quartets; six Symphonies (one unfinished), in particular: Holidays Symphony; Three Places in New England, (1903-14), the overture Robert Browning (1908-12), Central Park in the Dark (1898-07), The Unanswered Question (1908).

His style, untouched by the methodical puristic style, is marked instead by a multiple of aspects typical of composition which are often combined in complex structures. These break into polytones as much as they do into unaccented music; into twisted rhythmic situations and material agglomerates *.

A winner of the Pulitzer Prize (1947), Ives is today considered the greatest representative of the American music of the period between the two wars, and one of the greatest composers of the 20th Century.


The Kunst der Fuge Biographies of Composers: Ives by Nausica Th. Classical.
Contribution for the translation: B.K. Drabsch. Thank to F. Vettori for the collaboration.
* Nuova Enciclopedia della Musica, Garzanti (Garzanti, 1983)
Enciclopedia [generale] di Repubblica (Autori vari, 2003)
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