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JENNIFER PAULL compares the American visionary composer with Spanish architect Antonio Gaudí


<< Continued from last week

He said 'No genius ever stopped creating because he never could make a million dollars'.

Ives made his million. His passion for originality applied to his knowledge of insurance. One of his inventions was a strategy for preserving wealth that we now know as 'Estate Planning'. His business assured his financial well-being and freed him to write whatever kind of music he pleased. That was brilliant 'Life Planning' !

Ives married a lady who delighted in the glorious name of Harmony Twitchell. They adopted a daughter called Edyth, owned a horse, a dog and a cat, Christofina, who ate asparagus.

Strangely, the general public criticise artists for being comfortable. They seem to prefer the suffering of the impoverished creator in the face of the cruel world. This, many have blindly epitomised for their own generation with their mistrust of contemporary music. Hypocrisy is not to see that Mozart too was once a 'contemporary' composer !

Ives as the highly successful businessman ran an insurance company. He divided his time between this and his music. He worked such long hours that he damaged his health.

We have no shows of sympathy for the poor man trying to fit everything into 24 hours. Sympathy is reserved for a Schumann who damages his finger trying to force himself to play better, or a van Gogh whose rejection causes such suffering that in self-mutilation, he becomes insane.

Forcing one's self to make money in order to allow for artistic liberty and freedom of expression was not socially acceptable in Charles Ives' time. We may ponder -- is it today ?

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Copyright © 15 March 2001 Jennifer Paull, Iowa, USA




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