Remarkable composer Charles Ives spent the majority of his career not known as a prolific composer, but as an insurance salesman. Doesn't that sound familiar of most of the prolific musicians you know today? Holding down a day job while secretly pounding away at their passion at night?
Charles Edward Ives (October 20, 1874 – May 19, 1954) was an American modernist composer. He is widely regarded as one of the first American composers of international significance.Ives' music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years. Over time, Ives came to be regarded as an "American Original".Ives combined the American popular and church-music traditions of his youth with European art music, and was among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music, with musical techniques including polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatoric elements, and quarter tones,thus foreshadowing virtually every major musical innovation of the 20th century.(via Wiki)
Yes you read that right, the man who sold insurance did all of the stuff other people would become famous for BEFORE they did it. Ives was the man! I love him.
First up, so you can hear the difference, here is the Copland version of the hymn"At the River" followed by Ives' version. Hear the artistic difference? I love both. I sang the Ives version two years ago.
People like to call this the "cowboy song". The very popular Charlie Rutlage. I like that this poster included the sheet music. Look how difficult it is!
Most Ives art songs are quite short..some only being about 30 seconds..this one is significantly longer.
Most of Ives' art songs were published in one collection called 114 Songs. There are so many wonderful ones that I couldn't find decent recordings of(oh I found some recordings... but they were horrendous and you wouldn't hear the beauty of the music!)
Some of my fave Ives songs:
The Children's Hour
Tom Sails Away
Songs My Mother Taught Me(this and the version by Dvorak are AMAZING)
If you can find a great recording of these let me know!Of course it goes without saying that many people don't sing these because they are extremely difficult. But for some reason Ives was always a breeze for me. We fit together well I suppose. Some of these songs are challenging to the ear of a novice listener, you really have to listen deeply to the music. It is hard to describe, you have to be able to listen beyond the dissonance.Sort of how your teacher always told you to read between the lines.
Of course Ives wrote more than songs:
Some modern interpretation of Ives' songs:
This is why I do this series. Be influenced, be influential. I want you to see,hear,feel,taste music the way I do. And maybe in that you will produce amazing music for others. Or at least be able to communicate how music makes you feel.