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<<  -- 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 Iberia.

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.

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Copyright © 8 March 2001 Jennifer Paull, Iowa, USA




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