<< -- 2 -- Jennifer Paull IVES AND THE ESTABLISHMENT
Ives imaginative mind created some of the finest music that has yet been
written which exemplifies America, just as Gaudí's architecture exemplifies
Ives put all America into his music, the good, the bad and the indifferent-or
perhaps today we would say, the good the bad and the ugly. Yet again, I
could draw parallels with Gaudí. Both men seemed possessed by a spirit
of independence and a flamboyance of soul. They were both rather more than
a little extraordinary and totally eccentric in many ways.
Ives achieved this his own way and had the courage to continue to do
what he believed although it meant having a separate career to pay for his
lifestyle. Forced into isolation and decades of silence, derision and mistrust
were the price he paid for his work and his pioneering, unconventional ways.
Ives was a composer cut off from any audience at all. Living in the midst
of America, he was talking about America to himself. When some of his works
ultimately arrived before the public, Musical America was not yet ready
to receive its own. Need I draw the parallel with architectural Spain ?
Ives reflected :
'Some have written a book for money; I have not. Some for fame; I have
not. Some for love; I have not. In fact......I have not written a book at
all. I have merely cleaned house.....'
His New England childhood had meant so much to him that later on in years,
he refused to revisit his hometown. He said that he couldn't bear to see
the changes that had taken place in its architecture and growth.
It was his participation in the everyday life of his native Danbury that
gave him a familiarity with the feelings of the people that few purely intellectual
composers could equal. His knowledge of the ways of such common or garden
characters as children, old men, bankers and shopkeepers of his own New
England, was indispensable to his expression. They were his building bricks.
The communal festivities, Fourth of July celebrations, circus parades,
camp-gatherings, barn dances, and the popular music which accompanied all
of these, were the habitual ingredients of his musical kaleidoscope.
Copyright © 8 March 2001
Jennifer Paull, Iowa, USA
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