The Music of Charles Ives

Powerful Essays
In 1894, a young, quietly colorful Charles Ives enters Yale University. He enters with a strong musical foundation provided by his father and community and a vision of what he thinks music can be. Horatio Parker, Ives’s composition professor unashamedly informs Ives that his vision of music seems blurry, perhaps even nauseating, to the astute, cultured musician. Ives quickly develops anger towards Parker’s traditional tutelage and rarely recognizes the positive effects Parker has on his compositions. Here begins the battle between new and old that Ives and Parker embarked upon during Ives’s college years, however the story starts and ends far from their four short years together.

Horatio Parker was born in 1863 in Auburndale, MA, which was not a big town by any means. From a young age, he took piano and organ lessons from his mother before heading to Boston to study with George Chadwick. While in Boston, he became a member of the Second New England School, along with John Knowles Paine, his teacher George Chadwick, Amy Beach, and Edward MacDowell. According to Nicholas Tawa , the aim of the Second New England School was to develop an American classical idiom that stands apart from European ancestors. Based on Parker’s important role in the group, one might say they did not fully reach their goal. Looking at Parker’s compositions (his famous oratorio, Hora novissima for example), there is not much that is distinctly American about it, or non-European for that matter.

The Second New England School may have partially met their goal, whether or not they lived to see it. The First New England School (starting late 1700s) was developed by composers who had little to no formal training in the European tradition. They easily developed ...

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...ernstein and Charles Ives. The quest to find an American classical idiom was (and still is) a long process that is constantly being evaluated by new composers and compositions. As we become an older country with growing traditions, our music is sure to reflect its path.

Works Cited

1.Block, Geoffrey Holden, and J. Peter Burkholder. Charles Ives and the Classical Tradition. New Haven: Yale UP, 1996. Print.

2.Ives, Charles, and John Kirkpatrick. Memos. Edited by John Kirkpatrick. New York: W.W. Norton, 1972. Print.

3.Swafford, Jan. Charles Ives: a Life with Music. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. Print.

4.Tawa, Nicholas. The Coming of Age of American Art Music: New England's Classical Romanticists. Westport, CT: Greenwood P, 1991.

5. William Treat Upton (1967 [reprint]), Anthony Philip Heinrich: A Nineteenth Century Composer in America, New York: AMS Press, pp. 3-4
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