Charles Edward IVES
20 October 1874 - 19 May 1954(age 79)

Charles Ives was one of the first American composers of international importance. His work was mostly unknown during his lifetime.
With time however he has come to be considered one of the most important influences on musuical composition in the 20th century.
As a day job he founded and ran one of the most successful insurance companies in the States.

- Family

- Works

- Career

- Quotes

- Links

portrait of Charles Ives


Born: 20 October 1874, Danbury, Conn., U.S.
Father: George Ives former Union Army bandmaster
Mother: "Mollie" Elizabeth Parmalee
Siblings: 1 brother Joseph Moss Ives
Wife: Harmony (great name for the wife of a composer) Twitchell
Children: adopted daughter Edith (Osborne)
Died: 19 May 1954 in New York
Cause of death: stroke
Grave: Wooster Cemetery, Danbury, Connecticut USA
see findagrave.com

Selected works

Orchestral music
4 symphonies
Three Places in New England
The Fourth of July
Chamber music
The Unanswered Question
Central Park in the Dark
2 string quartetts
4 violin sonatas
Piano music
Three-Page Sonata
Sonata no.1
Sonata no.2 ‘Concord’
Vocal music
over 185 songs
and psalms


Life Insurance with Relation to Inheritance Tax

Style: American Nationalist, Impressionist, experimentalist
Influenced by: Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Joplin, American folk music, jazz, popular music

Influenced: Bernstein, Cage, Copland

Pulitzer Prize 1947 for his Symphony No.3 

First performed by Lou Harrison and Chamber Orchestra in New York, April, 1946

Holidays Symphony 
Michael Tilson on the music of Charles Ives

A Brief Biography

- Childhood: his father nurtured his interest in music teaching him various instruments and unconventional exercises to "stretch his ears". It was his father that put him on the road of musical experimentation.
- Age 14 appointed church organist, an activity he did for over 14 years.
Went to the Hopkins Grammar School where he became the captain of baseball.
- Age 19 Went to Yale where he studied under the Wagnerian Horatio Parker.
His father died which affected him deeply.
Played for the Yale football team and chaired the Ivy Committee.
Wrote his Symphony No1 as his senior thesis.
- Age 25 Employed by the Mutual Insurance company which eventually went out of business after a few years.
- Age 33 Founded his own insurance company, Ives & Co, with his friend Julian Myrick. It soon became Ives & Myrick, one of the most successful in the States. It specialised in estate planning. He worked there until he retired.
- age 44 Suffered a heart attack and his health deteriorated making it increasingly difficult to compose.
- age 53 Finally stopped composing.
- age 56 retired from the insurance business. Continued to revise and refine his earlier works.
- age 79 died from a stroke after a minor operation.


- "One thing I am certain of is that, if I have done anything good in music, it was, first, because of my father, and second, because of my wife"

- "The possibilities of percussion sounds, I believe, have never been fully realized"

- "In 'thinking up' music I usually have some kind of a brass band with wings on it in back of my mind" 

- "Why tonality as such should be thrown out for good I can't see. Why it should always be present I can't see. It depends, it seems to me. . . on what one is trying to do, and on the state of the mind, the time of day or other accidents of life"

More quotes on Miss Jacobson's Music blog

The Unanswered Question (a cosmic landscape)
Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Filarmonica della Scala, Milan   

Charles Ives - the unanswered question 

Variations on America
Aaron Robinson, organist

Uploaded by Music4ibc on 22 Jun 2010
Charles Ives was an eighteen-year-old organ virtuoso when he composed his celebrated variations for organ on the patriotic hymn "America." He first performed the Variations on February 17, 1892, at the Methodist church in Brewster, New York. It has since become one of the nation's leading works for organ. American composer and orchestral organist, Aaron Robinson, performs this challenging work on the "Mighty Immanuel Organ" at Immanuel Baptist Church in Portland, Maine. The accompanying video is an impressive compilation of images that celebrate the history of America. Charles Ives was once quoted to say: "... playing the pedal passages (in the final variation) is almost as much fun as playing baseball."

Ives plays and sings his composition "They are There"

Links - where to go for more information

The Charles Ives Society

A Charles Ives Website

Answers.com a collection of reference sites including Wikipedia

An article by Peter Gutmann

and of course Wikipedia

Harmony and Charles Ives at West Redding, 1948
Harmony and Charles Ives at West Redding, 1948
9 in. x 12 in.
Buy This Allposters.com

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