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Songs Our Fathers Loved: A Charles Ives Thread
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 4:47 pm    Post subject: Songs Our Fathers Loved: A Charles Ives Thread If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote



Charles Ives
Holidays: A Symphony (1912)

Gustav Mahler
Symphony Not 1 in D (1888)

Ingo Metzmacher, conductor
London Chorus
BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Monday 2 of September of 2002

http://rapidshare.com/files/22028793/CONCERT_ARCHIVE_41.zip.001
http://rapidshare.com/files/22024705/CONCERT_ARCHIVE_41.zip.002

(use HJsplit to open and join files)

Happy 4th of July Cool

I thought it appropiate to start this thread with a broadcast of Ives's Holidays Symphony which includes his famous The Fourth of July (it is the third movement)...and as a bonus Mahler's 1st is also on the program!!

I do believe The Fourth of July is one of the best places to start if your new to Charles Ives.

On The Fourth of July Ives wrote:

It's a boy's '4th-no historical orations-no patriotic grandiloquences by "grown-ups"--no program in this yard! But he knows what he is celebrating--better than most of the county politicians. And he goes at it in his own way, with a patriotism nearer kin to nature than jingoism. His festivities start in quiet of the midnight before, and grow raucous with the sun. Everybody knows what it's like-if everybody doesn't-cornets, strings around big toes, torpedoes, church bells, lost finger, fifes, clam chowder, a prize-fight, drum-corps, burnt shins, parades (in and out of step), saloons all closed (more drunks than usual), baseball game (Danbury All-Stars vs Beaver Brook Boys), the sky-rocket over the Church steeple, just after the annual explosion sets the Town Hall on fire. All this is not music,--not now.


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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:18 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

I remember discovering Ives during my senior year in High School. I had checked out a Leonard Bernstein record that featured four different lectures on composers, Ives being the last one I believe. I'll never forget the sound of his Fourth of July (from his Holiday's Symphony) blaring from my turntable in the middle of the night as I lay in bed, eyes wide open. Thus began an obsession that last lasted for years (and is still with me, forever and into the next life!).

I love his music, but more and more I've come to love his ideas even more than the actual sounds he produced (I can get into more detail on this later).
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:20 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Ives's music became (not right away, but eventually) more dissonant, complex, conceptual and exciting after he met and started to court Harmony Twitchell (1876-1969).



Harmony...a registered nurse...the women who made a man out of crazy Charlie...Charlie who just graduated from Yale in 1898 (with a D+ average), who was all over the map musically, always cuttin' up with his pals, moving to New York (coney Island, bars, central park in the dark, ann street, ragtime baby), getting started in the insurance business, living with his batchlor buddies in some joint called Poverty Flat...

Harmony's brother Dave Twitchell, was an alumni of Poverty Flat and a best friend of Charlie. For ten years she only knew Charlie as her brother's best friend. Charlie was this guy who played the organ at Center Church in New Haven. Harmony would sit there quietly in Church with her friend Sally, who would nudge Harmony everytime Charlie purposely deviated from the hymnal harmonies he was supposed to play.

Harmony was the daughter of the great Reverand Joseph Twitchell and his lovely wife Harmony. The parishioners who frequented Rev. Joes church included: Charles Dudley Warner, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and close friend Mark Twain. Harmony called Mark Twain 'Uncle Mark'. Her father was close to the great writer, who is the 'Harris' character in Twain's The Tramp Abroad.

Ives would later write: "I heard Mark Twain say through his own mouth, nose and cigar as he pointed across the room...to Mr. and Mrs. Twitchell: 'Those two blessed people-how greatly indebted I am to them.' "



When Ives was courting Harmony, he had to present himself to Uncle Mark for 'approval'. "Well," said Twain, "the fore seems all right; turn him around and lets see about the aft." Then Twain turned to Harmony's sister Sue, who had told him about Charlies music, and he said, "Now that the young man has joined the Twitchell Family, he will get the same inspiration from his Harmony that I did from Joe and his Harmony."

Charlie and Harmony's first date occured on July 30, 1905. They went to a concert in Hartford to hear Dvorak's New World Symphony. Their courtship was a very Victorian courtship...very slow and formal, almost imperceptable to the human eye..."wary of too-impetuous steps, each unsure of the others feelings, each fearful of dissapointment"...
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:23 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

[continued from above]

In 1906 Ives responded to his love of Harmony by finding his voice as a composer.

The Unanswered Question was written in July of 1906. Biographer Jan Swafford comments:

In the 1930's, when he was rummaging for new pieces to put before the public, Ives picked up "The Unanswered Question," carefully revised it, and attached a program something like what must have been on his mind in 1906. The strings are "the silences of the Druids, who know, see, and hear nothing"; over this indifferent universal background the trumpet repeatedly poses "the perennial question of existence"; the winds are the "fighting answerers" who, for all their sound and fury, get nowhere. ... The program also encompasses a philosophical idea that Ives would address incomparably in his music and in his writings: in contemplating the sublime mystery of creation, a question can be better than an answer [180-81].

Meanwhile, Harmony starts to write Charlie. Her letters are friendly and reserved, but the attraction is there and they must play the Victorian romance game. In December they go out to Williamsburg, Virginia to visit a close friend of Charlie's. Later she writes and tells him she loved the trip, and Charlie (fighting back bad health and depression) writes back..."It rained constantly and I took you back to the Holland House and bid you goodbye for sometime and felt very badly and felt as if I'd lost and left behind all that meant anything real to me."

About three weeks later, Ives has his first heart attack at age 32.
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:26 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

[continued from above]

At the start of 1907, Ives recovers from his heart attack by lieing low at Old Point Comfort, some health spa in Virginia....not even seeing his beloved for a time. During this time he and Julian Myrick plan a new insurance ageny of their own. Meanwhile Harmony continues to write Charlie, revealing herself more and more. By setting her poetry to music (within the radar of Victorian parlor song vernacular), in particular a poem she wrote in 1906 called The World's Highway, Charlie nurtures the courtship along...maybe a little too slow for Harmony, who starts to hint that she's ready for him to make a move. Her poem literally tells him she's ready to leave the world she once knew (her nursing the sick from slumhouse to slumhouse) for him:

For long I wandered happily
Far out on the world's highway.
My heart was brave for each new thing
And I loved the far away.

I watched the gay bright people dance,
We laughed, for the road was good
But oh! I passed where the way was rough
And I saw it stained with blood.

I wandered on 'till I tired grew
Far on the world's highway
My heart was sad for what I saw
And I feared the far away.

So when one day, O sweetest day!
I came to a garden small.
And a voice my heart knew called me in
I answered its blessed call.

I left wandering far & wide
The freedom and far way
Bu my garden blooms with sweet content
That's not on the world's highway.


By the summer of 1907, Ives could breath a sigh of relief...Harmony was dating him exclusively and there was not a suitor in sight (and she had had many, as Ives painfully knew)...inspired, Charlie decides to play her his 'real' music...his experiental stuff. With her sitting next to him on the piano, he bangs out The Unanswered Question and Central Park in the Dark.

She is not offended. She would write later, "He Fixed it...so I could understand it somehow..."

Charlie tells her afterwords in a letter, "You are always absolutely loyal and loving and gentle and always have understood me, from the beginning. I always felt that intuitively as you always seemd to understand intuitively. That was one of the most wonderful things about it all."

In the autumn of 1907, on a trip to the Adirondocks, Charlie (after two years of courting) works up the nerve to tell her he cares for her, and quickly apologizes for being too forward! She writes, "I dont feel badly Charlie to have you say you care and there is just one reason why I dont & I shant tell you until you ask me."

Ives now undertands it is time to lay everthing on the line...and announces his decision to visit her at her home at Hartford.

Just as he about to leave...he gets sick again.
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:28 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

[continued from above]




Very concerned, Harmony writes, "I'm so sorry, Charlie, that being sick is what kept you yesterday--I thought it was lots to do perhaps...I'm awfully dissapointed--these days are so heavenly...But I shant enjoy them now until I know about you."

As soon as he recovers, he sets off from New York to meet his Beloved. It is October 21, of 1907, the time of year Harmony calls "the peace of God." The next day, on the Wood Road to Farmington, he spills his guts as they walk side by side. They kiss. "When you said there what you did," remembered Harmony afterwards, "I was swept into a flood & can't remember much else...that moment can never be changed or lost---It is one of the supreme moments of existence."

At the end of their long Victorian courtship, Charlie and Harmony appear to find a kind of spiritual rapport together that will intimately last till Charlie dies in 1954.

Harmony writes:

Darling--I feel so strongly what you say about our love...bringing happiness into other lives besides our own---I know the joy and beauty of it can be communicated to others and that is what I long to do with it---to give out of my abundance that the world may be a little happier.

I think, as you say, that living our lives for each other & for those with whom we come in contact generously & with sympathy & compassion & love, is the best & most beautiful way of expressing our love...but to put it too in concrete form of music or words would be a wonderful happiness, wouldn't it? I think you will & that will be doing it for both of us, my darling...

May I live to guard & grow more worthy of the love you give me...always, darling we will give God thanks & praise for revealing Himself as much as he has in each of us to the other--I dare to love you so fully, so utterly because it is all just God & religion...no one ever had a clearer call to their life's fulfillment & duty than I have had thru my love...my dear dear love.


July 28, 1908. A little more than a month after their wedding, Charlie and Harmony walk near Stockbridge, along the Housatonic (in New England) on a Sunday morning.

Ives:

We walked in the meadows along the river, and heard the distant singing from the church across the river. The mist had not entirely left the river bed, and the colors, the running water, the banks and elm trees were something that one would always remember.

When they get back to New York, Harmony notices Charlie writing on his stave paper, attempting to get their serene walk along the Housatonic at Stockbridge into music.

Ives writes on the early sketch during the work's conception:

Housatonic Church across River sound like Dorrnance [a favorite hymn]. River mists, leaves in slight breeze river bed--all notes and phrases in upper accompaniment . . . should interweave in uneven way, riverside colors, leaves & sounds--not come down on main beat . . .

Ives also inserts a poem (by poet Robert Underwood Johnson) into the score:

"Contented river! In thy dreamy realm--
The cloudy willow and the plumy elm:"...
...Thou hast grown human laboring with men
At wheel and spindle; sorrow thou dost ken;...
Thou beautiful! From every dreamy hill
What eye but wanders with thee at thy will,
Imagining thy silver course unseen
Convoyed by two attendant streams of green...
Contented river! And yet over-shy
To mask thy beauty from the eager eye;
Hast thou a thought to hide from field and town?
In some deep current of the sunlit brown
Art thou disquieted--still uncontent
With praise from thy Homeric bard, who lent
The world the placidness thou gavest him?
Thee Bryant loved when life was at it's brim;...
...Ah! There's a sensitive ripple, and the swift
Red leaves--September's firstlings--faster adrift;..
...Wouldst thou away!...
...I also of much resting have a fear;
Let me thy companion be
By fall and shallow to the Adventureous sea!"
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IanWagner



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:29 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

THANK YOU, LEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Classic stuff.
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:30 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Third Symphony "The Camp Meeting" (1904)

I. Old Folks Gatherin'
II.Children's Day
III.Communion


Ives on holiday, scoring the 3rd Symphony, his wife Harmony relaxing beside him.

(A page from the score)


[Charles Ives:]
I seemed to have worked with more natural freedom, when I knew the music was not going to be inflicted on others. And this is probably one of the reasons that, not until I got to work on the Fourth Symphony, did I feel justified in writing quite as I wanted to, when the subject matter was religious. So many of the movements in things used later were started as organ preludes and postludes etc. for church services, [and] I knew that they might be played. One has a different feeling in forcing your “home-made” on a public that can’t help itself, than on a friend who comes to your house and asks you to play. (You have to finish at a public hymn, but a friend can walk out!) In other words, a congregation has some rights which an intimate or personal friend hasn’t in full…Anyway, in considering my music, the secular things—that is, those whose subject matter has to do with the activities of general life around one—seem to be freer and more experimental in technical ways.

On looking at this page from the Third Symphony, I am reminded of the Alcotts score from the Concord Sonata. Like the Alcotts, the score of the symphony looks serene and very much like a hymn. In fact the Symphony is primarily based on various hymns that Ives remembered from his childhood. This 3rd symphony is a relatively early work, very tonal compared to his later work, and can be grouped with the 1st and 2nd Symphonies, the 1st String Quartet and the Violin Sonatas.

Over the years, I have come to really love Ives's early Symphonies, and his 1st String Quartet. According to the quote above, Ives felt that he wasn't yet 'free' in his early work, and he was more self-concious over what he presented to the public. This may be true, yet that doesn't diminish the real truthful beauty of his early work. Sometimes I enjoy these works even more than his later, more dissonant work. The early symphonies in particular project an acheing pastoral mood from the viewpoint of a romantic 19th century individualist, with one foot still rooted in reality, that ultimately sounds more rich and satisfying than a sentimental or romantic view. The 3rd Symphony is the climax of Ives's early style, and a kind of bridge between his past and his experimental future.

The work's subtitle "The Camp Meeting" gives us the context of this very nostalgic music. Ives's childhood memories of outdoor camp meeting rivivals were very meaningful for him, and problably connected him to his father on a deep spiritual level.

[from in online encyclopedia]
Camp meeting, outdoor religious meeting, usually held in the summer and lasting for several days. The camp meeting was a prominent institution of the American frontier. It originated under the preaching of James McGready in Kentucky early in the course of a religious revival (c.1800) and spread throughout the United States. Immense crowds flocked to hear the noted revivalist preachers, bringing bedding and provisions in order to camp on the grounds. The meetings were directed by a number of preachers who relieved each other in carrying on the services, sometimes preaching simultaneously in different parts of the camp grounds. Shouting, shaking, and rolling on the ground often accompanied the tremendous emotional release that followed upon “conversion,” although these extravagances were opposed and discouraged by conservative ministers. Camp meetings were usually held by evangelical sects, such as the Methodists and Baptists, and by the Cumberland Presbyterians and other newer denominations that developed out of the religious revival. In modified form they continued to be a feature of social and religious life in the region between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi River until comparatively recent times. In a sense, they survive in summer conferences and assemblies, such as the Chautauqua Institution, in revivals, and their spirit is captured by some televangelists.

Ives scholar Mark Alan Zobel writes:

Of course, by Ives’s time camp meetings had ceased to be conducted out of necessity and had become more of an elective form of worship. Moreover, getting to the meeting place was much less of an ordeal. The roads were better and the rail systems were well established. Travel in Connecticut during the late nineteenth century was hardly the same as, for example, Kentucky in the early nineteenth century. Nevertheless, extra effort was required. Families still had to bring substantial provisions and cumbersome camping gear. The roads, though better, were generally flat dirt rather than paved or stone. Washed-out roads and wagon-wheel ruts hampered the camp meeting folk of Ives’s time just as they did the frontier families of the early 1800s. Only those willing to endure the struggle and discomfort made it to these outdoor encampments.

This idea of enduring adversity and gathering together is a theme that seems to have captured Ives’s imagination. In Memos, he recalls images of farmers and their families traversing the countryside on foot or in wagons, all making their way to the meeting place. One imagines Ives (then age four) witnessing the scene—perhaps from his family’s buggy while en route, or perhaps from within a tent erected on the campsite. The memory is of ordinary people coming from all around to take place in some strange, adult ritual that young Charlie could barely have understood. It must have looked unlike anything he was used to. Surely he had seen gatherings before: people going to church in Danbury, family celebrations at home, and holiday parades in town. Nevertheless, the experience of seeing so many travel so far to a seemingly remote place must have excited him—if for no other reason but that it was something out of the ordinary.


The 3rd Symphony takes us through a whole day at one of these Camp Meetings. The first two movements give us a different point of view (old folks and children), and finally, in the last movement, all come together and share communion with the Divine.


Next: Old Folks Gatherin'
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:32 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

IanWagner wrote:
THANK YOU, LEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Classic stuff.


Thanks!!! This is really a pleasure...Ives is my Guru.
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:35 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

I.Old Folks Gatherin'

Each movement of this symphony is based on an organ prelude Ives wrote for the Central Presbyterian Church in New York City (these early organ works are now lost). By 1902, Ives was working three of these pieces into a symphony, and in 1903 he worked on the short score (with most of the orchestration indicated). The pencil sketch of the final version was finished in 1904. He would continue to revise it over the coming years (it was probably fully completed in 1911).

The first movement of this symphony is a based on a Prelude Ives played on Dec. 12, 1901 at the church.

Personally, what I love most about the 3rd symphony is Ives's writing for the trombones (and horns for that matter), especially in the first movement. The trombones appear after the curtain opening-like gesture of the strings, and all of a sudden...we are witness to a kind of wide open space of memory, green hills and camp meetings over a wind of New England sun and air. I feel this way over the course of the whole symphony.

The first movement features these hymn tunes: Carl Gläser’s Azmon (1829), Charles Converse’s Erie (1868), and William Bradbury’s Woodworth (1849). Mark Zobel notes that "Azmon is most commonly paired with Charles Wesley’s hymn O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing (1739)".

(When I was a kid, I sang O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing in Church so many times I memorized the tune, so when I first heard this work I was suprised to recognize this tune and a couple of others. My grandfather played hymns in church, and taught me to play also, so I think this is one of the main reasons I love Ives's hymn derived works. Most who were brought up in church would know alot of this symphony from the get go.)

[Mark Zobel writes]
Several aspects of the musical context illustrate the idea of gathering. For example, the main theme is not heard at the beginning. Rather, it emerges from fragments of hymn tunes presented at the outset, which then coalesce into a complete thematic idea—a technique J. Peter Burkholder has called cumulative setting. Just as the camp meeting worshippers came from all around the countryside, these fragments appear from throughout the orchestra, and occur in such variety as to suggest the diverse individuals that Ives saw coming over the hills. Just as there was struggle in getting to the camp meeting, there is a “struggle” among these fragments to be heard as coherent units. At the end, they coalesce as though having been gathered together for the greater purpose of sounding out a complete tune—just as the camp meeting folk gathered together in song for the greater purpose of worship.

Regarding the use of these tunes, musicologist J. Peter Burkholder writes:
We have seen that most of Ives’s works based on existing music use borrowed material within a formal and thematic structure that is coherent even if the listener does not recognize the borrowed tunes. Programmaticism plays a role in a relatively small number of works, and in only a few are the borrowings to be understood primarily as fulfilling a program or illustrating a text. Yet in addition to the works whose borrowings can be explained in terms of a musical procedure or extramusical program, there are several in which the process seems entirely arbitrary, like a joke or compositional tour de force. These are the works in the tradition of quodlibet, a small group in Ives’s output but a significant influence on some of his greatest compositions. There are two basic techniques of linking existing tunes in a quodlibet: contrapuntal combination, in which tunes are piled on top of one another, and successive combination, in which fragments of various tunes appear in quick succession, whether in the same or a different instrument.

Ives was big on adding 'extramusical' associations in his works by using these hymns. The hymn tunes in this symphony create a context, or setting that:

[musicologist Peter Burkholder]
served more than purely musical functions for Ives. Because the themes were drawn from American hymn tunes, they carried extramusical associations, from the specific words and images of the hymn texts, to the feelings evoked by hymn singing or the flavor of American song. Together with the form itself, which embodies a progression from fragments to wholeness and from vagueness to clarity, these associations give Ives’s cumulative settings three kinds of extramusical significance: a celebration of American melodies; a sense of the spirit in which these hymns were sung; and…a perfect musical parallel to the experience described in the text or program.

I should mention the numerous "shadow lines" heard throughout the music. They are usually played on a solo instrument, such as a clarinet or violin, and they are generally dissonant in contrast to the general tonal discourse of the music. Certain recordings feature these "shadow lines" more than others, depending on the conductor's choice between various editions of the score. Ives wrote these shadowlines in the 1904 pencil score, but in the end, he was quite ambivalent about their use and crossed them out. However, he later requested that they be reinstated in later editions of the score. He basically didn't want these shadow-like melodies to intrude onto the main discourse of the music, so he generally left it up to the conductor to decide. Ives never explained why he wanted them there in the first place.

This movement (in most editions used) ends with a shadow line...a solo violin playing What a Friend We Have in Jesus . Zobel writes:

As Ives recalled, his father sometimes led the singing with a violin. Could this line be representative of Ives’s father? For that matter, might all the shadow lines be representative of his father’s influence? George Ives was skilled with a number of instruments, and the diversity of instruments in which the shadow lines appear could signify his presence in Ives’s memory. Whatever their meaning for Ives, their presence leaves much to the imagination which, in the end, may be what Ives most wanted.


George Ives


Next: A Children's Day
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:44 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

...continued from above...

II. A Children’s Day

Harmony Ives became pregnant within the first weeks of her marriage to Charles. Both were excited and anxious to start a family, but during the month of April of 1909, a pregnant Harmony was taken to the hospital due to a problem with the pregnancy. Tragically, she had a miscarriage and was given an emergency hysterectomy in the process. She was in the hospital for a month. She would never be able to have children again.

A devastated Ives worked on the song based on a poem by Keats, called “Like A Sick Eagle”:

The spirit is too weak;
mortality weighs heavily on me
like unwilling sleep,
and each imagined pinnacle and steep
of Godlike hardship
tells me I must die,
like a sick eagle looking towards the sky.



As the 1909 summer came to a close, Charles and Harmony went vacationing with her family at Pell Jone’s lodge on Elk Lake in the Adirondacks. Harmony recovered from her operation here, writing in her diary, “A perfect vacation. Charlie working on the Symphony.”



The photo above shows Charles sitting close to his wife, working on the 3rd Symphony during their vacation. Who knows what kind of thoughts or emotions went through his mind while orchestrating the second movement, A Children’s Day, but whatever he was going through, his work was progressing with a strong maturity and confidence. The playing children in his Symphony would continue to play for eternity, like a film tucked in a dreamy corner of the mind, easily recalled.

Charles Ives:

At the summer Camp Meetings in the Brookside Park the children, (more so the boys) would get marching and shouting the hymns…and the slow movement [Children’s Day recalls] a serious time for children, Yes, Jesus Loves Me—except when old Stone Mason Bell and Farmer John would get up and sing—and some of the boys would rush out and throw stones down on the river.

Mark Zobel writes:

Another key aspect of Ives’s childhood was play—imaginative, inventive play. Ives grew up during the golden age of childhood in which play of this kind was central. In a time before television, video games, and computers, play was a highly social and creative venture. Creative play and playing music often went hand in hand in the Ives household. Ives recalled once that, where practice and music making were concerned, George was not against a reasonable amount of “boys fooling.” Such fooling included playing a fugue in four keys at once, singing a song in one key and accompanying in another, performing more than one song at a time, and performing off-beat, wrong-key accompaniments to familiar tunes. Far from frivolous wastes of time, these musical experiments stimulated Ives’s creativity, ventures that would pay off later during his compositional years. As Ives later recalled, “what started as boy’s play and in fun, gradually worked into something that had a serious side to it that opened up possibilities.”

Ives chose hymns that would complement the playful, happy atmosphere of this movement. The main tunes used are The Happy Land , Naomi (arr. Lowell Mason), and Fountain (arr. Lowell Mason).

Here are some musical examples of these hymns (from Zobel’s dissertation on this Symphony):

Naomi


The Happy Land


Fountain


The lyrics to The Happy Land could be Ives’s testimonial to his sacred memory of childhood, his muse, a tangible promised land where he can still hold his father’s hand and feel protected, and watch his father take up the violin and lead a chorus of farmers and townspeople to sing:

There is a happy land, far, far away,
Where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day;
Oh, how they sweetly sing, worthy is our Savior King,
Loud let His praises ring, praise, praise for aye.

Come to that happy land, come, come away;
Why will you doubting stand, why still delay?
Oh, we shall happy be, when from sin and sorrow free,
Lord, we shall live with Thee, blest, blest for aye.

Bright, in that happy land, beams every eye;
Kept by a Father’s hand, love cannot die;
Oh, then to glory run; be a crown and kingdom won;
And, bright, above the sun, we reign for aye.



(Ives and his daughter Edith in 1924)

Even though Ives worked the Naomi hymn (see notation in above example) into his Symphony years before the loss of their child, Mark Zobel noticed a “striking parallel” between this hymn and “certain events in Ives’s life” that are worth mentioning here, which I’ll briefly describe:

--In the Book of Ruth, Ruth allows the aging and childless Naomi to adopt her [Ruth’s] own son. This enables Naomi and her new husband to have an heir, and also saves Naomi and her husband from being social outcasts. The lyrics of the Hymn are a prayer of thanks and gratitude for God’s intervention:

Father, whate'er of earthly bliss
thy sovereign will denies,
accepted at thy throne, let this
my humble prayer, arise:

Give me a calm and thankful heart,
from every murmur free;
the blessing of thy grace impart,
and make me live to thee.

Let the sweet hope that thou art mine
my life and death attend,
thy presence through my journey shine,
and crown my journey's end.


--In 1916, Charles and Harmony adopt a young girl named Edith, which in turn gives Charles and Harmony a new found peace and Joy during a particularly difficult and stressful time in their lives and marriage. Zobel observes:


Just as Naomi’s adoption of Ruth’s child eased a complicated social and economic situation, the Ives’ adoption of Edith eased the complications of the preceding years by bringing new happiness into their lives.

It is not known whether Ives was conscious of this parallel or not, but Zobel states:

Ives’s choice to retain the tune in later versions (particularly in the 1909 revision which, interestingly, was scored during their vacation at Elk Lake in August while Harmony was recuperating from the surgery) suggests that the tune might have taken on a special significance for him given the events of the preceding four months.


Next: Communion
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:46 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

III.Communion


Ives at Yale

In May 1896, Ives handed in the one major work assigned for his sophomore year at Yale. His First String Quartet (subtitled “From the Salvation Army”) is a seed that would later blossom into the Third Symphony.

Like the later work, this Quartet was put together from various pieces he wrote for organ and strings at church. The Quartet is an experimental piece, mostly made up of gospel hymns. The first movement is a fugue based on the hymn Missionary Chant (“From Greenland’s Icy Mountains”) and Ives would later orchestrate it and place it in his Fourth Symphony.

This Quartet is a rather loose and rambling student work, but it is one of my favorite moments of Ives’s hymn reflection-music (a fantasia-communion of hymns), and very much a blueprint for his later larger works. The use of hymn quotations are very much like the Third Symphony, except at this stage the writing is not as conceptually or formally strong as the Symphony.

The First String Quartet probably offended his Professor, Horatio Parker, who Ives would later despise, but at the same time Ives learnt much about abstract musical form from his teacher. Ives remembered how Parker went off the rails when it came to revival hymns or popular music of any kind…Parker would shout, “In music they should have no place. Imagine, in a Symphony, hearing suggestions of street tunes like ‘Marching through Georgia’ or a moody and Sanky Hymn!”


Horatio Parker

Biographer Jan Swafford mentions how in 1900 Parker would lecture his students how revival music was, “Vulgar with the vulgarity of the streets and the music hall. If sentimentality is evil…what shall we say of vulgarity?...Let the stuff be confined to the mission where it may do some good. Among people of any appreciable degree of refinement and culture it can only do harm.”

Jan Swafford:
What could Parker do then, then, with his student who seemed incurably infested with crude hymnody and program music, who without shame could title a string quartet, that purest of genres, “From the Salvation Army?”


To be continued…
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:47 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

…continued from above…


Gustav Mahler

In New York, early on in 1911, Gustav Mahler walked into the Tams Music Copying Service (along Tin Pan Alley). While browsing around inside, he noticed the score to a Third Symphony by some unknown American composer named Charles Ives. After looking the score over closely, Mahler decided to take it with him back to his home in Austria, possibly intending to have this work performed in the future. Mahler was almost finished with his tenure with the New York Philharmonic (as Director), but his time in New York had reportedly been an unhappy one. Mahler returned to Vienna, but his heart disease was very advanced and he died in May.

Jan Swafford writes:
Mahler had glanced at a Symphony by an unknown and apparently amateurish American and recognized a kindred spirit. He saw a composer placing, as he did, the commonplace, the humble, the shopworn in a symphonic context, and in the process renewing both the material and the symphonic genre. Mahler also saw a deliberate and touching musical naïveté close, in its Yankee voice, to his own way of evoking Austrian folk songs and landlers.

The finale of Mahler’s own Third Symphony is very similar to Ives’s Third. Both finales are slow and rather meditative and mystical. Even the programmatic content is similar; in Mahler the theme is love, and in Ives the theme is communion. The differences lie in the length and the dynamics. Mahler uses around 25 minutes and ends with a glorious crescendo, while Ives takes about 7 minutes and remains relatively quiet throughout. Different strokes for different folks…yet both are great.

Henry Cowell:
He [Ives] feels that music, like other truths, should never be immediately understood; there must always remain some further element yet to be disclosed. A complete musical statement, in all its clarity and simplicity, like any absolute truth is an ultimate, not a beginning. Ives reserves it, therefore, for the culmination of a work.

The finale to Ives’s Third has eluded me for many years. It is almost like water. When I try to remember the music, I have a difficult time remembering its sound. I vaguely remember a kind of kaleidoscope mish mash of strings and woodwinds that meander through a forest, with no direction. When I was first getting to know this work, I often would stop listening after the 2nd movement, or I would fall asleep if I decided to stick it out. The movement feels formless. This effect may have been what Ives intended. Unlike the other movements, he doesn’t quote from as many hymns.

This may be because of the title…Communion…resolving from separation into an enjoining energy…individual-less.

Mark Zobel:
The title [Communion] was never used when the organ piece on which it was based was played in church. Only when the music was recast in the form of a symphony (a decidedly secular genre) was the term invoked in a programmatic way. It seems clear that Ives, though perhaps not in the role of preacher, was trying to suggest something of the inner life to the listener as well as emulate the decidedly non-sectarian spiritual tone of his hero Beethoven, whose Ninth Symphony has achieved a state as close to universal as any symphonic work of the modern tradition. Just as the hymn tunes Ives borrowed would undoubtedly have suggested something devotional to postwar listeners, the use of the term communion was perhaps calculated to suggest something deeper than an outdoor encampment.

In the past, I haven’t really listened to this work with a story in mind. As I mentioned earlier, I really love Ives’s writing for the trombones, but his complete orchestration of this work is glorious. More than any other work by Ives, I usually listen at the sonority of the instruments rather than a ‘story.’ Yet, as you might have guessed, I really like the ideas Mark Zobel puts forth in his dissertation on this Symphony. He has given me a new appreciation for this work. Now I realize the great concept behind this Symphony:

Mark Zobel:
How interesting that Ives chose communion, a theologically loaded term, as the theme for this final movement, especially since the symphony depicts a Christian journey of sorts…we have seen how Ives’s tune-usage illustrates the idea of a journey. In Old Folks Gatherin’, Ives gives the listener his impressions of people coming from all around the countryside to take part in the camp meeting. Musically, he represents this in the form of a cumulative setting wherein tune fragments are gathered together from around the orchestra to coalesce at the end into a unified thematic statement. In Children’s Day, Ives gives the listener impressions of childhood playfulness. Here, he uses devices such as quodlibet and wrong-note accompaniments to familiar tunes in order to represent (1) children at play on the campground and (2) the kind of “boys fooling” that often characterized music making in his childhood home. On one level, the ideas expressed in Old Folks Gatherin’ and Children’s Day suggest a program for the symphony wherein people arrive as “old folks” and are then transformed spiritually into a child-like state of innocence which then prepares them to receive communion. Intended by Ives or not, the pattern of events depicted in this symphony bears a striking resemblance to Jesus’ scriptural admonishment about first becoming like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. This does not indicate that Ives is deliberately making a theological argument, only that there is a striking parallel between this aspect of the Biblical narrative and the musical context thus far.

Moreover, the final movement lends further support to that parallel. Perhaps realizing that the communion ritual is rather mystical and abstract, and that it embodies properties that are not of the familiar world, Ives used fewer familiar tunes here than in the previous two movements. In Old Folks Gatherin’ and Children’s Day, borrowed materials appear in almost every measure. Here, however, the borrowings are relatively rare. Just as there is little of the familiar world in the theology of the communion ritual, there is little of the familiar musical world in this final movement.

The subtleties of this finale are deep and lasting. There is a quality in the quiet strings that hints of a plane beyond quietness. Now that I’ve learned to listen closer (but not consciously, strange enough) I can now recall the little bits I like. The work no longer feels claustrophobic…feels more wide open and transparent, almost like a secret everyone knows that doesn’t need to be said out loud. The finale to the Third is a kind of prototype for many similar endings in Ives’s future works: the Piano Trio, the 2nd String quartet, the Concord Sonata, and the 4th Symphony among others.

The Third Symphony had its premiere on April 5, 1946 under Lou Harrison’s direction with the New York Little Symphony. Much critical acclaim followed this performance, leading to the Pulitzer Prize awarded to Ives on May 5, 1947 for music.

Characteristically, Ives called the award “a badge of mediocrity” and also quipped, “Prizes are for boys, I’m grown up.” However, in private, Ives intimated in a letter to friend Lou Harrison that he was flattered by the award.

Mark Zobel:

As of this writing, one hundred years have passed since Ives completed principal composition of the Third Symphony in 1904. Questions as to its enduring significance may seem ill timed now, as grass roots America (the tunes of which Ives eagerly borrowed) scarcely knows the name of Charles Ives, much less any of his music. He is certainly beloved by pockets of music-lovers the world over, but to speak of this particular work as somehow preserving the essential spirit of the American camp meeting tradition with the same widespread and long-standing influence as the Epistles would be an overstatement. As music, the Third Symphony is an important part of America’s musical heritage. As a pastoral and mythic vision, however, it is awaiting discovery.
Currently, America’s musical attentions lie elsewhere—whether on the popular songs of our time, or masterworks more central to the canon. Just as the Great Depression, the spread of Fascism, and World War II primed postwar audiences for the Third Symphony’s tonal familiarity and tuneful reminiscences, one wonders if the declining economy, spread of terrorism, and war in Iraq might not prime the audiences of today. We owe it to ourselves to find out, because this symphony has things to teach us about the beauty of the inner life which, for Ives, was a most wonderful “place in the soul, all made of tunes, of tunes of long ago.”

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:52 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

An Election (It Strikes Me That...)
For Male (in unison) Chorus and Orchestra

Also known as...

November 2, 1920
for Voice and Piano


President Harding

Ives wrote this work in response to Harding's presidential victory (won by a landslide) in 1920. In the score of the song, Ives writes, "sung as a soliloquy of an old man whose son lies in Flander's Fields." We don't need to get into the details of the political arena at the time (Harding led a corrupt and incompetant administration), but on hearing the music it is obvious this is one of Ives's 'blowing off steam' pieces. I never think too much on the political anger when I hear this work...I really love the unison voices and the ending, which is my favorite Ives ending ever. He wrote his own lyric, which reads more like a rant:

It strikes me that
some men and women got tired of a big job; but, over there our men did not quit.
They fought and died that better things might be!
Perhaps some who stayed at home are beginning to forget and to quit.
The pocketbook and certain little things talked loud and noble, and got in the way;
too many readers go by the headlines, party men will muddle up the facts,
so a good many citizens voted as grandpa always did,
or thought a change for the sake of change seemed natural enough.
“It’s raining, let’s throw out the weatherman, kick him out! Kick him out! Kick him out! Kick him out! Kick him!”
Prejudice and politics, and the stand-patters came in strong, and yelled, “slide back! Now you’re safe, that’s the easy way!”
Then the timid smiled and looked relieved, “We’ve got enough to eat, to hell with ideals!”
All the old women, male and female, had their day today,
and the hog-heart came out ofhis hole;but he won’t stay out long,
God always drives him back!
Oh Captain, my Captain!A heritage we’ve thrown away;
but we’ll find it again, my Captain, Captain, oh my Captain!


I discovered some a great commentary on this work, by Emily Graefe:

The song raises issues of the duty of each citizen to vote intelligently, and to uphold the founding fathers’ vision of democracy. It focuses on the dualities of the individual’s duty to action and passivity in relationship to the betterment of society. Although sung by one man, there is dialogue between him, who speaks of the duty the individual as to society, and the people who have forgotten this duty. They are shown as passive, while the singer is active. The song pities those who wanted to keep the status quo. They are presented in stark contrast to the soldiers who fought and died for change in World War I. The listener is reminded of this with
the brief musical and lyrical quotation of the popular war song, “Over There” by George M. Cohan, in measure six. We are told that the soldiers “fought and died that better things might be!” whereas “the timid smiled and looked relieved, ‘We’ve got enough to eat, to hell with ideals’!” The Transcendentalists would see the timid as resigning their individuality to what society proscribes, instead of challenging ideas and finding something to believe in.

Ives presents his bias clearly and the listener does not doubt which set of people he believes are better individuals. The soldiers possessed individual honor and duty to serve their country and force a change for the better. The people at home, on the other hand, are easily satisfied and lose their desire to change the world for an ideal. They do not act on their own accord because they are part of a group mentality and possess a placidity that prohibits their own ideas from being fostered.

Musically the piece is varied. As is evidenced by the lyrics, a dialogue is set up between two different groups that represent action and inaction, which gives the song a unique character. This is handled musically by the use of staccatos in the accompaniment when the group speaks. An ostinato figure beginning in measure four is said to be played in “an uneven and dragging way,” showing the sluggishness of the passive group and makes that inaction cohesive throughout the piece. The staccatos show how their mentality is detached from the larger understanding of what is good for society. Throws of passion are tempered by lines that are practically spoken, which help to express the duality present in the song. The music enhances the whirlwind of emotion shown in the lyrics.

The song incorporates unusual musical ideas to further Ives’ point. To begin with, the piece has no key signature or time signature. This is common in Ives’ music because of his chromaticism and polyrhythms, but also, those things would simplify the piece and break it down into conventional language, just as politicians break things down for the public so they feel they have nothing worth voting for. Ives shows the contrast between “there” and “here” by the triplet rhythm groupings for the “there” section (m. 6, 7) in the beginning. It is found in both the melody and the accompaniment, either separately or together.

This unifying rhythm shows the unity in duty to the country and society. Also, the texture of thick chords shows unity because the notes are played together. This rhythm is not found again until the ending call to “my Captain.” Also not heard until the ending is a triple forte dynamic. It occurs in the beginning on the word “fought.” The soldiers’ duty was expressed through action, whereas society’s desire to “quit,” is marked by a pianissimo. Underpinning the phrase “beginning to forget and to quit” are minor descending chords to show his melancholy over this fact.

The state of the majority’s inaction is shown musically. When Ives is describing the common attitude as being “to hell with ideals,” he has the singer descend on a chromatic scale. This motion alone shows the exhaustion and release with which the individual can easily resign his role as an active citizen. Details like these descending chromatic figures show the general downtrodden nature of the country’s political situation. The five-note clusters in the left hand of the accompaniment for “to hell with ideals” are ascending and come together with the descending right hand line. The result is not harmony and agreement, but collapsing inwards and is another example of the inactive mood he tried to create. Both the chromaticism and tone clusters do not serve a traditional purpose harmonically.

By associating these stagnant musical ideas with the inaction of society, Ives further links his text to the music. The murkiness of the clusters of tones is ambiguous and unpleasant, especially for the audiences of his day. They represent the passive citizens in the song, and the unharmonious nature of the clusters marks the citizens’ grating effect on the country. The dark dissonances serve to echo the dark place that the American government is in: the alternative path of the individual, one in which he resigns his duty to society, leads to a dim world with little enlightenment.

The ending section with the call to “my Captain” is the climax of this emotional and bitter critique on society. One might expect this hopeful end full of major chords and clear harmony because of its hopeful ending that America will reclaim its past of involved government. Ives chose not to be so simple for this ending. The chords in the last five bars are the same, beginning with a loud proclamation (f) followed by a quiet one (p).

This is symbolic because the dynamics show the polarity that exists between individualism and the group. The first chord is anchored in the bass clef with a C-major chord. The vocal melody outlines a C-major chord before hovering around e, only to settle on c, giving the impression that C is the root. What is placed in the accompaniment on top of the C chord, though, is an A-minor chord.

This bitonality serves to demonstrate the two forces of individualism and group, with great tension resulting from the two. The second, quieter but more dissonant, is built out of a set of augmented fourths centered on C, D, and E (C to F-sharp, D to G-sharp, and E to A-sharp), which show that Ives chooses his intervals with some unifying element. The tonal ambiguity for the ending section proves that even though the past can be looked to for inspiration, it cannot be replicated. By evoking this past spirit, clarity is not reached because it has no place in the present. The diminuendo for the passage suggests that the memory will die away if it is not enhanced by a modern event to replace the ghost of the past.

The nation’s “heritage” is discredited because its citizens have neglected their duty of being informed about their government and living by high ideals. The song ends with a call to “my Captain,” Walt Whitman’s poetic reference to Abraham Lincoln.

Ives leaves the listener with an idealization of the past of Lincoln’s day when Ives believed that a strong individual led the country and when the people could be democratic about voicing their opinions. That age in history could not be repeated, though. The Transcendentalists felt the weight of the past pressuring them to live up to the ideals of their revolutionary forefathers, just as Ives fondly remembers an old way of American government. Ives recognizes that the past cannot be
recreated, so he uses this memory to propel the country into action.

The Transcendentalists used a similar technique in regards to the Anthony Burns slave trial. They did this by emphasizing America’s formative identity as a bastion of freedom. When southerners threatened to bring the escaped slave Anthony Burns back to the south, northerners
were rallied by the idea that they had to preserve their identity with freedom. By evoking images of the Revolutionary War, they moved the citizens of Boston to action to prevent the return of the slave. Ives believed that “the need of leaders in the old sense is fast going – but the need of freer access to greater truths and freer expression is with us.”

He used the memory of a leader to encourage citizens to become their own leaders empowered to make their own decisions.



I feel this is an great, if not essential work in Ives's catalogue. A great rant arqueing his political view and hatred for everything he considered weak and spineless in America. It has a hard, comical and industrial air about it. I keep imaging a cold winter sky every time I hear this. It is very raw and brittle sounding...very cold, in a sense. Yet the ending is such a blissful cry...the mood blooms into something else...MY CAPTAIN (Whitman's evocation of Lincoln after Lincoln's assassination).


My favorite version of this can be found on this reissue:


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:54 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

In a way, you can say this post is a continuation from the post above (Ives's piece on President Harding)...

Lincoln, The Great Commoner
For Unison Chorus and Full Orchestra



Lincoln..."Oh, Captain, my Captain."



This started as a song, written in 1921 and is included in Ives's 114 Songs. The orchestra version here possibly dates from 1923.

This feels like a companion work to An Election (It Strikes Me That...). The mention of "My Captain" in the Election, the unison chorus, and almost the same musical material (that awesome low bell) in both endings tie these two songs together. The brass writing is stunning and scary in a sublime way.


More great commentary from Emily:

Sometimes the individual needs a role model to be inspired by when he searches for ways to be active in his own transcendence. Looking to others for inspiration to be an individual, Ives chose to recognize Abraham Lincoln. While he has other songs named after people, such as “Walt Whitman” and “Emerson,” those songs deal with the ideology of those people rather than their actual lives. Initially Lincoln appears in “from ‘Lincoln, the Great Commoner’” (Song 11) with text by Edwin Markham and a poem by Ives placed under the title.

Ives returns to Lincoln later in the 114 Songs, as we have seen, by putting the former president in the crucial climax of “Nov. 2, 1920.” Conjuring up Lincoln brings up thoughts of individualism and the idealism and duty that accompany individual action. Another admirable characteristic was Lincoln’s commonness, which helped make him accessible to those looking for transcendental guidance. This is shown more in the Markham text rather than in the Ives poem (see following), especially in the opening line: “and so he came from the prairie cabin.”

The Transcendentalists greatly admired the common man. Looking to Lincoln as a commoner helps to encourage the individual’s journey towards enlightenment. By aspiring towards the simple life, one could escape from superficial elements of society and achieve transcendence.

Ives’ poem is meant to heighten the individual duty Lincoln exhibited to his country and
himself, and is a great insight to what he believed was the essential Lincoln. He lists the
challenges Lincoln had to face, “The curse of war and strife!/The harsh vindictiveness of men,” but noted that “What needed to be borne_he bore!/What needed to be fought_he fought!/But in his soul, he stood them up as_naught!”

For Ives, Lincoln’s duty to carry out his ideas is what should be admired and remembered. Ives could list his anti-slavery efforts or action in the Civil War, but all of the problems Lincoln faced could be simplified by stating that he did what he believed was right.

The song itself “from ‘Lincoln, the Great Commoner’” opens immediately with a sense
of action in the accompaniment. It is marked “firmly, but actively and with vigor” to show that when the individual becomes active he must do so with conviction.


And so he came from the prairie cabin to the Capitol,
One fair ideal led our chieftain on,
He built the rail pile as he built the State,
The conscience testing every stoke,
To make his deed the measure of the man.
So, came our Captain with the mighty heart;
and when the step of earthquake shook the house,
wrenching rafters from their ancient hold,
He held the ridgepole up and spiked again the rafter of the Home
He held his place he held the long purpose like a growing tree
Held on thro’ blame and faltered not at praise,
and when he fell in whirlwind, he went down as when a
Kingly cedar green with boughs goes down with a great down,
upon the hills!


The first half of the lyrics explains Lincoln’s convictions. The second half tells of the
strength of those convictions. To show the stability one needs to stand as an individual, Ives used recurring musical ideas to strengthen this point about being an individual. The piece is unified by a rhythmic motif (dotted eighth/sixteenth note) in the first part of the song. Aside from this rhythmic motif, he uses the opposite of that rhythm (sixteenth/dotted eighth) three times in a row during “came our Captain.” This is an important link to be made because it involves the subject, Lincoln, and the verb, “came,” to show how he fulfilled his duty to his country through action.

Later in the song, Ives repeats the same accompanying chord four times
underneath the phrase “held the long purpose.” The chord is based on perfect fifths stacked on top of one another beginning with e. As the fifth is a stable interval, Ives builds a chord on it to express Lincoln’s purpose and reliability in performing his duty. In contrast to Lincoln’s stability are the forces that tried to wrench America apart, which led to the Civil War. The harmonies throughout are centered on an E pedal tone, but Ives changes this to heighten the mood shift, caused by playing note clusters with the fist, achieved with the phrase, “wrenching rafters from their ancient hold.” Although within a designated range, the randomness of the notes the player will hit in his performance fury shows the chaos and unpredictability that contrasts with the repetition Ives uses to emphasize key points in favor of Lincoln.


Oh my god...that ending. Unforgettable.

Again, you can find this piece on this CD:


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