Author Topic: Charles Ives  (Read 66421 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 44265
  • Toru Takemitsu (1930 - 1996)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    The sound of a flock descending across the pentagonal garden
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #480 on: March 18, 2017, 08:33:19 PM »
Orchestral Set No. 2



Charles Ives did not intend for his Orchestral Set No. 2 to be a follow-up to the famous first set, Three Places in New England. His notes indicate that by 1911 he'd completed the first two movements, and that the third was written in the fall of 1915. The finished grouping of these three movements wasn't assembled until 1919, whereas Three Places was put together around 1914. Ives' Orchestral Set No. 2 premiered under Morton Gould in Chicago in 1967.

The Orchestral Set No. 2 is scored for a very large orchestra and chorus, rivaling the scale of the Fourth Symphony. The first movement, entitled "An Elegy to Our Forefathers," was originally conceived as an "Overture to Stephen Foster" and undertaken around 1909. It includes quotations from such familiar Foster fare as "Old Black Joe" and "Massa's in de Cold, Cold Ground," but also snatches of African American spirituals such as "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen." Bathed in dark hues of thick, mysterious orchestral color, this movement is the most touching of Ives' forays into African American song. Conductor Leopold Stokowski attempted to point up this element of the work by asking composer Hershy Kay to add a unison chorus to this movement in 1970. While the added choral part doesn't sound out of place in this context, Ives never intended it, and this addition has to be considered spurious.

The second movement, "The Rockstrewn Hills Join in the People's Outdoor Meeting" is based on the Four Ragtime Dances of 1902; some of the same material also appears in the fourth movement of the First Piano Sonata. This piece is a full throttle, no-holds-barred send-up of ragtime rhythm; it contains some of Ives' most trenchantly dissonant writing for the strings and brass in the center section. Bells ring in the climax, consisting of a wonderfully sour rendering of "Bringing in the Sheaves" before the music quiets back down. Despite the outdoor setting indicated by the title, this is urban music -- big and ugly.

The final piece, "From Hanover Square North, at the End of a Tragic Day, the Voice of the People Again Arose" memorializes an event that occurred on a train platform in New York City on Friday, May 7, 1915. Ives records in his Memos how the atmosphere on that day was thick with apprehension at the news that a German Submarine had torpedoed the Lusitania, meaning war was imminent. As Ives waited along with a crowd at the Third Avenue "El," "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" broke out among some of the workers, and soon the whole crowd picked it up. As the train arrived, the magic remained; no one spoke, and some were still singing the tune while boarding. In Ives' score, he utilizes the large orchestral forces at his disposal and unison chorus to perfectly capture the tension and claustrophobia of this scene.

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Following on the heels of the Ives of March celebrations that aren’t happening on GMG (where are you, Greg?), I thought I’d post this write-up about one of my favorite Ives works: Orchestral Set No. 2. For me, the whole work feels like I’ve just entered a drug-induced dreamworld full of flickering lights and shadow lurkers. It would take someone an entire book to analyze this work, so I possibly couldn’t begin to pick apart all of the strands of music that exist in it. My favorite performance comes from Tilson Thomas conducting the Concertgebouw. Sinclair also has an excellent recording with the Malmo SO on Naxos.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2017, 08:35:30 PM by Mirror Image »
"Music should be able to invoke the natural emotions in all human beings. Music is not notes fixed on apiece of paper.” - Toru Takemitsu

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 44265
  • Toru Takemitsu (1930 - 1996)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    The sound of a flock descending across the pentagonal garden
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #481 on: March 29, 2017, 06:59:03 AM »
Well as The Ives Of March draws to a close, we Ivesians are proud to bring aboard hopefully a newly converted member: Rafael (ritter). 8) Let’s hope he continues to the explore this incredible composer’s music. May I suggest the Concord Sonata (preferably the Aimard recording), the SQs, and the violin sonatas (preferably the Fulkerson/Shannon set on the Bridge label).
"Music should be able to invoke the natural emotions in all human beings. Music is not notes fixed on apiece of paper.” - Toru Takemitsu

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 44265
  • Toru Takemitsu (1930 - 1996)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    The sound of a flock descending across the pentagonal garden
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #482 on: March 29, 2017, 07:28:02 AM »
A Symphony: New England Holidays



Referring to his New England Holidays, an assemblage of four orchestral works written between 1903 and 1913, Ives stated that "they are separate pieces and can be thought of and played as such. These four together were called a symphony, and later just a set of pieces...." Taking a jab at critics who were appalled at his brash style, Ives further explained his reasons for viewing the work in this way: "I was getting somewhat tired of hearing the lily boys say 'This is a symphony? Mercy!'" Like so many of Ives' works, New England Holidays finds its inspiration in nostalgic recollections of the composer's childhood. Each of the four constituent tone poems takes as its title a different holiday that evoked for the composer memories with specific musical associations.

The first movement, "Washington's Birthday," portrays a midwinter barn dance, complete with strains of "Turkey in the Straw" and "Camptown Races." In his own notes that accompany the score, Ives describes it thus: "The village band of fiddles, fife and horn keep up an unending 'break-down' medley, and the young folks 'salute their partners and balance corners' till midnight; --as the party breaks up, the sentimental songs of those days are sung half in fun, half seriously, and with the inevitable 'adieu to the ladies' the 'social' gives way to the grey bleakness of the February night.”

The second movement, "Decoration Day," recalls the holiday once set aside to honor Civil War veterans (since replaced by Memorial Day). After the crowd gathers at the square, the processional embarks for the cemetery to the tune of "How Firm a Foundation." The assembly's arrival at its destination is marked by the playing of "Taps," combined with strains of "Nearer My God to Thee." This somber moment is contrasted by the peppy parade back into town, accompanied by Ives' raucous reinterpretation of the "Second Connecticut National Guard March.”

The third movement, "The Fourth of July," calls for various pyrotechnic feats on the part of the orchestra. Ives' impression of this holiday takes shape as a complicated combination of well-known marches and tunes as well as newly composed material, offset by odd beats and assembled into a spirited, mischievous whole. Characteristically, Ives makes use of much nineteenth century musical material with patriotic associations: "Yankee Doodle," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean," and "Battle Cry of Freedom," all make prominent appearances during this schizophrenic, multilayered celebration.

"Thanksgiving," which brings New England Holidays to a close, attempts, as Ives explains, to portray "the sternness and strength and austerity of the Puritan character" in its stubborn polytonality and forceful texture. Though "Thanksgiving" makes reference to several hymns, one in particular receives added emphasis in a setting for chorus. As the movement reaches its climax, the voices exclaim: "Oh God, beneath Thy guiding hand our exiled fathers crossed the sea; and when they trod the wintry strand, with prayer and psalm the worshipped Thee.”

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Certainly one of Ives’ most startling yet mesmerizing works. This work sounds like it could have been titled A Symphony: New England Seasons as much as it using the word ‘Holidays’ as the piece takes us on an aural tour through all four seasons in typical Ivesian fashion. For those who haven’t watch Tilson Thomas’ Keeping Score documentary on this work then please run, don’t walk, over to Amazon and pick up the DVD (or Blu-ray). This documentary helped cement my fascination and admiration of this symphony. Of course, MTT with the Chicago SO would be my first-choice in terms of recorded performances. Sinclair offers a fine alternative performance, although his Holidays are spread out and not grouped together, which was what Ives later in life preferred. Rafael, if you’re reading this, Holidays is right up your alley after having your ears assaulted by his Symphony No. 4.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2017, 07:32:34 AM by Mirror Image »
"Music should be able to invoke the natural emotions in all human beings. Music is not notes fixed on apiece of paper.” - Toru Takemitsu

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 49573
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #483 on: March 29, 2017, 07:45:08 AM »
"the lily boys" . . . love it.  Best description of James yet  0:)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Monsieur Croche

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1439
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #484 on: March 29, 2017, 07:57:10 AM »
"the lily boys" . . . love it.

A-yep"I don't write music for sissy ears." ~ Charles Ives.
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 44265
  • Toru Takemitsu (1930 - 1996)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    The sound of a flock descending across the pentagonal garden
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #485 on: March 29, 2017, 08:36:27 AM »
A-yep"I don't write music for sissy ears." ~ Charles Ives.

 :P
"Music should be able to invoke the natural emotions in all human beings. Music is not notes fixed on apiece of paper.” - Toru Takemitsu

Offline Leo K.

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1457
  • Author of 'False Barnyard'
    • Conceptual Music
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bruckner, Bach, Handel, Beethoven
Charles Ives
« Reply #486 on: May 06, 2017, 09:43:41 AM »
Ives is such a life inspiration I gave my newborn son the middle name Ives.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline TheGSMoeller

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11124
  • Monkey Greg.
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #487 on: May 06, 2017, 10:08:44 AM »
Ives is such a life inspiration I gave my newborn son the middle name Ives.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Nice!  8)

millionrainbows

  • Guest
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #488 on: May 06, 2017, 10:48:30 AM »
This is rather unassuming cover art for such a crucial disc. This also contains the short works cond. by Gunther Schuller, originally on LP called "Calcium Light Night."



Here is the original LP cover:


Offline Leo K.

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1457
  • Author of 'False Barnyard'
    • Conceptual Music
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bruckner, Bach, Handel, Beethoven
Charles Ives
« Reply #489 on: May 08, 2017, 03:11:02 AM »
This is rather unassuming cover art for such a crucial disc. This also contains the short works cond. by Gunther Schuller, originally on LP called "Calcium Light Night."



Here is the original LP cover:



I definitely prefer the the LP cover art!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline Leo K.

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1457
  • Author of 'False Barnyard'
    • Conceptual Music
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bruckner, Bach, Handel, Beethoven
Charles Ives
« Reply #490 on: May 08, 2017, 03:14:08 AM »


This one is still one of my favorite LP covers.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 44265
  • Toru Takemitsu (1930 - 1996)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    The sound of a flock descending across the pentagonal garden
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #491 on: May 08, 2017, 04:28:45 PM »
I definitely prefer the the LP cover art!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

+1
"Music should be able to invoke the natural emotions in all human beings. Music is not notes fixed on apiece of paper.” - Toru Takemitsu

Offline aukhawk

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 683
  • Frankie
  • Location: England
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bach to Björk
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #492 on: May 09, 2017, 01:29:07 AM »

This one is still one of my favorite LP covers.

The first time I bought it, it looked like this:


Then, when I re-acquired it on CD, it rather bizarrely looked like this:

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3144
  • Location: Chicagoland
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #493 on: July 14, 2017, 12:32:52 PM »
Speaking of Ives: can anyone give an opinion on Ludovic Morlot's Ives from Seattle? He's done (I think) 3 of the 4 symphonies with that orchestra.

I finally got this disc:



My initial impression is that this is a really first-rate collection. The Seattle orchestra plays tremendously, and the sonics are really good, detailed and expansive, which is what you need for music like this.

I haven't heard a lot of competing versions of these works, but I was able to compare Morlot in the 3rd Symphony and the 2 brief tone poems to the classic Bernstein LP of these works. In every case I prefer Morlot's version. Especially I like his slow, drawn-out tempo for The Unanswered Question, which makes it sound much more cosmic and mystical than Bernstein's rather blunt version.

The symphony comes off very well, a bit soft around the edges, but this seems to fit, as it's Ives in relatively restrained, nostalgic mood. Someone up above referred to the long, lingering ringing of the bells at the end - this is a really nice effect.

The 4th Symphony sounds terrific too - pretty much the equal of the MTT/CSO recording, which I've had for years.

In short, this is one of the best Ives orchestral discs I've heard.
formerly VELIMIR (before that, Spitvalve)

"Who knows not strict counterpoint, lives and dies an ignoramus" - CPE Bach

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1859
  • Back. Hello!
    • Surprised by Beauty
  • Currently Listening to:
    anything from Monteverdi to Widmann and well beyond in either direction and everything in the middle!
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #494 on: November 09, 2017, 03:27:47 AM »
Latest on Forbes.com

Classical CD Of The Week: Alexei Lubimov Supreme In Ives, Webern, Berg

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenslaurson/2017/11/08/classical-cd-of-the-week-alexei-lubimov-supreme-in-ives-webern-berg/



I finally got this disc:



My initial impression is that this is a really first-rate collection. The Seattle orchestra plays tremendously, and the sonics are really good, detailed and expansive, which is what you need for music like this.

I haven't heard a lot of competing versions of these works, but I was able to compare Morlot in the 3rd Symphony and the 2 brief tone poems to the classic Bernstein LP of these works. In every case I prefer Morlot's version. Especially I like his slow, drawn-out tempo for The Unanswered Question, which makes it sound much more cosmic and mystical than Bernstein's rather blunt version.

The symphony comes off very well, a bit soft around the edges, but this seems to fit, as it's Ives in relatively restrained, nostalgic mood. Someone up above referred to the long, lingering ringing of the bells at the end - this is a really nice effect.

The 4th Symphony sounds terrific too - pretty much the equal of the MTT/CSO recording, which I've had for years.

In short, this is one of the best Ives orchestral discs I've heard.

Would be interested what you think of this disc:

The 10 Best Classical Recordings Of 2016

#5 Ives:

http://bit.ly/Forbes_Best_Classical_Recordings_2016_New



Offline Mahlerian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2964
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #495 on: July 30, 2018, 08:38:31 AM »
I just read an essay from the 1950s excoriating Charles Ives with this admittedly memorable line:

"For [American] musicians it is worse.  We had nothing to offer before Ives, and he smelled like Whitman's armpits." - Robert Evett

Like so many others, Evett (a composer who studied under Persichetti, apparently) sees himself as the lone voice of reason amidst the befuddled minds of contemporaries.  The basic idea of his essay is that the works of Ives that are performable are poor in quality, and those which are any better at all are unperformable.  Still, his thesis has been soundly disproven, given that those same works have been indeed performed, and the rest have worn far better than he expected.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3144
  • Location: Chicagoland
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #496 on: July 30, 2018, 12:19:41 PM »
I just read an essay from the 1950s excoriating Charles Ives with this admittedly memorable line:

"For [American] musicians it is worse.  We had nothing to offer before Ives, and he smelled like Whitman's armpits." - Robert Evett

Like so many others, Evett (a composer who studied under Persichetti, apparently) sees himself as the lone voice of reason amidst the befuddled minds of contemporaries.  The basic idea of his essay is that the works of Ives that are performable are poor in quality, and those which are any better at all are unperformable.  Still, his thesis has been soundly disproven, given that those same works have been indeed performed, and the rest have worn far better than he expected.

I'm confident that Ives will soon surpass even the great Robert Evett in critical stature and number of performances.
formerly VELIMIR (before that, Spitvalve)

"Who knows not strict counterpoint, lives and dies an ignoramus" - CPE Bach

Offline Cato

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8212
  • An American Hero!
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #497 on: July 30, 2018, 01:56:52 PM »
If one wants to appeal to authority to verify that Charles Ives had found a path worth following, recall that Arnold Schoenberg (somehow) had heard of Ives and considered him a "great composer."

Of course, some would say that Schoenberg's recommendation proves that they should preserve their distaste. ;)

Consider, however, the many parallels in art, especially 20th century painting and sculpting, where pastiche - or a patchwork quilt, if you want to continue the analogy - are found quite often  Again, some find such works less than compelling.  Indeed, some collage artists are less than compelling.  When done properly, however, such artworks can contain symbols or a symbology difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in "ex nihilo" art.

And so Charles Ives wanted to conjure up New England quite often, and was seemingly haunted by the agrarian nature of small-town New England of the 19th century, a nature that  quickly started to come under assault with the development of American culture and its dependence on all the burgeoning technology of its day.  In his music, Ives often seems more parallel with Marc Chagall than with the American collage artists (e.g. Robert Rauschenberg ), i.e. Ives often wants (or seems to want) to evoke a definite sense of nostalgia for things faded and fading away.  I do not think he would say that he wanted to avoid any definite meaning.  e.g. Born in the shadow of the American Civil War, the New England Yankee seems to push patriotism in his music quite often, perhaps as a way to help the reconstructed country to continue its healing.  Or perhaps just to contribute to a feisty, independent atmosphere of invention and show that Yankee ingenuity was also alive in music, and specifically his music!

In the same way that Chagall's art creates a symbology or iconography to keep alive the memories of Eastern European Jewry, of the life in the shtetl, along with a strong sense of fantasy, the music of Charles Ives is steeped in memories of New England, of small-town bands in the square, of Protestant churches and their hymns, of folk songs sung while people worked or traveled, but also contains a strong, even strident, sense of fantasy (e.g. The Robert Browning Overture, which is practically devoid of the usual collage-layered references, evokes the powerful - and mysterious - psychology found in many of Browning's works (e.g. Ivan Ivanovitch ).
« Last Edit: July 30, 2018, 02:01:12 PM by Cato »
COWBOY (sitting down to a poker game for the first time): "Is this a game of chance?!"

- W. C. FIELDS  (as Cuthbert Twillie): "Uhh, not the way I play it, no." in  My Little Chickadee.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 49573
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #498 on: July 30, 2018, 03:36:52 PM »
"For [American] musicians it is worse.  We had nothing to offer before Ives, and he smelled like Whitman's armpits." - Robert Evett

Reading between the lines, I wonder if Evett resented having to compete with Ives for attention. Here as a composer in 2018, my heart bleedeth for Evett.  Pity for him that he did not have the wit to distinguish between the difficulty of getting his work listened to, and the question of Ives's worth.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Mahlerian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2964
Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #499 on: July 30, 2018, 04:04:59 PM »
If one wants to appeal to authority to verify that Charles Ives had found a path worth following, recall that Arnold Schoenberg (somehow) had heard of Ives and considered him a "great composer."

Of course, some would say that Schoenberg's recommendation proves that they should preserve their distaste. ;)

Consider, however, the many parallels in art, especially 20th century painting and sculpting, where pastiche - or a patchwork quilt, if you want to continue the analogy - are found quite often  Again, some find such works less than compelling.  Indeed, some collage artists are less than compelling.  When done properly, however, such artworks can contain symbols or a symbology difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in "ex nihilo" art.

And so Charles Ives wanted to conjure up New England quite often, and was seemingly haunted by the agrarian nature of small-town New England of the 19th century, a nature that  quickly started to come under assault with the development of American culture and its dependence on all the burgeoning technology of its day.  In his music, Ives often seems more parallel with Marc Chagall than with the American collage artists (e.g. Robert Rauschenberg ), i.e. Ives often wants (or seems to want) to evoke a definite sense of nostalgia for things faded and fading away.  I do not think he would say that he wanted to avoid any definite meaning.  e.g. Born in the shadow of the American Civil War, the New England Yankee seems to push patriotism in his music quite often, perhaps as a way to help the reconstructed country to continue its healing.  Or perhaps just to contribute to a feisty, independent atmosphere of invention and show that Yankee ingenuity was also alive in music, and specifically his music!

In the same way that Chagall's art creates a symbology or iconography to keep alive the memories of Eastern European Jewry, of the life in the shtetl, along with a strong sense of fantasy, the music of Charles Ives is steeped in memories of New England, of small-town bands in the square, of Protestant churches and their hymns, of folk songs sung while people worked or traveled, but also contains a strong, even strident, sense of fantasy (e.g. The Robert Browning Overture, which is practically devoid of the usual collage-layered references, evokes the powerful - and mysterious - psychology found in many of Browning's works (e.g. Ivan Ivanovitch ).

Interesting.  I wouldn't have thought about connecting Ives to Chagall, but your reasoning seems quite sound.

I was listening to the Stokowski performance of the Robert Browning Overture earlier today, which prompted my brief look at the Ives literature.  A strong work in any event, very different as you said from the techniques used in the Fourth Symphony, eg.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

 

Don't Like These Ads? Become a GMG Subscriber!
For as little as 14 cents per day, subscribers get no advertising on the forum, a larger Inbox for your PM's, and a warm glow of knowing you are supporting the forum. All this and a groovy Subscriber badge too!
Click here to read more.