Charles Ives

American composer and insurance agent Charles Edward Ives was born in Danbury, Connecticut on 20 October 1874. He was taught music by his bandleader father, and became a church organist at the age of fourteen. He wrote much church music, including hymns and songs, and his now famous Variations on 'America' for organ was written in 1891 for a Fourth of July concert.

His systematic use of experimental techniques such as aleatory elements, multiple simultaneous melodies, polyrhythm, polytonality, quarter tones, and tone clusters was initially largely ignored, even after his death from a stroke in New York City on 19 May 1954, aged seventy-nine, but he had a successful career in insurance, and secretly financed other twentieth century composers' music.

More recently he has become appreciated as a pioneer of American twentieth century music.


A selection of articles about Charles Ives

Spotlight. Microtonal Connections - Keith Bramich listens to the Auerbach-Pierce Duo. '... nearly an hour of intriguing, sensitively played music.'

Ensemble. An Important Voice - Mike Wheeler listens to Florence Price and Dvořák

Ensemble. Bold and Resolute - Roderic Dunnett is impressed by a performance of Amy Beach's Mass in E flat

Echoes of Oblivion by Robert McCarney - Going for a Song

Classical music news - American Invention - The New York Virtuoso Singers present a February 2023 concert of first performances

Classical music news. Eden - Joyce DiDonato presents a multi-faceted initiative embracing a global tour of more than forty-five venues across five continents, an album, education programmes and multiple partnerships

Ensemble. Wonderfully Airborne - Christina McMaster plays Debussy, McKenzie, Crawford Seeger, Ives and Beethoven, and impresses Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. Fourteen People and a Dog - Brits in Rome, heard by Giuseppe Pennisi

Ensemble. Fierce Snarling - Sinfonia Viva's latest schools residency project, experienced by Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. To the Glory of God - Giuseppe Pennisi visits the Sagra Musicale Umbra, celebrating old and new continents

Ensemble. Exciting Teamwork - Roderic Dunnett was in Worcester for the 2011 Three Choirs Festival

Ensemble. Illuminating the Spectrum - Contemporary music at Salzburg, heard by Giuseppe Pennisi

Timings - Breaking Moulds: 1910, by Jennifer Paull

Ensemble. A Remarkable Event - Paul Sarcich visits the West Cork Chamber Music Festival

Ensemble. Tonal Luxuriance - Lawrence Budmen reports from Tanglewood 2009

Balancing Act - Beethoven in E flat, with Julian Jacobson and friends

Cumulative Weight - Mike Wheeler listens to Peter Williams at the organ of Derby Cathedral

A Useful Survey - Thomas May's 'The John Adams Reader', reviewed by Mike Wheeler

Record Box. Superb Performances - Ursula Oppens plays Elliott Carter, celebrated by Patric Standford

Record Box. Powerful and Original - Music by Ives, orchestrated by Brant, and heard by Robert Anderson

CD Spotlight. Protean Methuselah - Music by Henry Brant, investigated by Malcolm Tattersall. 'Most of us like to put composers in pigeon-holes but Brant is too big for that.'

Record Box. Curious and Evocative - Quarter-tone keyboard music played by Joshua Pierce, reviewed by Patric Standford

CD Spotlight. Unsettling - Microtonal music by Monroe Golden, reviewed by Ron Bierman. '... the overall effect is somehow stranger than the parts ...'

Ensemble. Conservative or Progressive? - Malcolm Miller attends the historic modern revival of Striggio's sixty-part Mass

Appropriate Temperament - Gordon Rumson replies to Patric Standford's article on keys and the decline of tonality

Ensemble. Energy and Style - A concert by the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen

Provocations - Alistair Hinton and Chad Wozniak discuss Patric Standford's recent 'Provocative Thoughts'

Record box. Impressive performances - A 20th century recital by the Westminster Choir, recommended by Patric Standford

CD Spotlight. Time travel - Charles Ives died fifty years ago today, and a CD released to mark the occasion is appreciated by David Wilkins. '... a recording destined for benchmark authority.'

CD Spotlight. A brave pianist - Music by Charles Ives played by Philip Mead, reviewed by Peter Dickinson. '... Mead's technique is consistently impressive.'

Record box - Piano sonorities. Basil Ramsey hears American piano music.

Ives and the Establishment - Jennifer Paull compares the American visionary composer with Spanish architech Antonio Gaudí (continued from last week)

Ives and the Establishment - Jennifer Paull compares the American visionary composer with Spanish architech Antonio Gaudí