Ives, Charles (Edward )
- J. Peter Burkholder,
- James B. Sinclair
- and Gayle Sherwood Magee
(b Danbury, CT, Oct 20, 1874; d New York, NY, May 19, 1954). American composer. His music is marked by an integration of American and European musical traditions, innovations in rhythm, harmony, and form, and an unparalleled ability to evoke the sounds and feelings of American life. He is regarded as the leading American composer of art music of the early 20th century.
Ives had an extraordinary working life. After professional training as an organist and composer, he worked in insurance for 30 years, composing in his free time. He used a wide variety of styles, from tonal Romanticism to radical experimentation, even in pieces written during the same period, and in his mature music frequently used multiple styles within a single work as a formal and expressive device. His major works often took years from first sketch to final revisions, and most pieces lay unperformed for decades. His self-publications in the early 1920s brought a small group of admirers who worked to promote his music. Around 1927 he ceased to compose new works, focusing instead on revising and preparing for performance the works he had already drafted. By his death he had received many performances and honors, and much of his music had been published. His reputation continued to grow posthumously, and by his centenary in 1974 he was recognized worldwide as the first composer to create a distinctively American art music. Since then his music has been frequently performed and recorded and his reputation has broadened further, resting less on his innovations or nationality and more on the intrinsic merits of his music....