Music Made From Memories Charles Ives' Holiday Symphony


“It was not until some 18 years after it was written that ‘Washington’s Birthday’ was performed in its entirety … According to the newspaper reports of this concert, neither the audience nor the critics were disturbed to the point of cussing.

In a strange bit of irony it was the future, not the past, that was to prove more helpful in the acceptance of Ives’s music. Great American musicians from succeeding generations—Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas—championed the work of their highly original countryman. And as time went on, more and more composers experimented with avant-garde sounds, making Ives’s music not nearly as shocking as it once had seemed. People began to understand that it wasn’t about his being modern, it was about what he was trying to say. That many now ‘got it’ was evidenced by Ives’s 1947 Pulitzer Prize in Music, an honor he reportedly greeted in typical fashion with the words, “Awards are for boys and I'm all grown up. ” He did, however, accept the award and split the prize money between fellow composers Lou Harrison and John Becker.


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Bob Burns (not verified)
August 30, 2010
It is the artist's responsibility to faithfully set down his (or her)view of what it is he is reflecting on as honestly and as forthrightly as he can. It is the listener's responsibility to receive art with an open mind. The beauty of Ives is in his willingness to express ancient ideas in new ways, and in so doing allow us to consider and appreciate the ever more colorful canvass which portrays what it is to be human.
January 31, 2010
Ives' uncanny sense of what we can interpret as musical is unfailing, even in his most difficult pieces. He never resorted to graph paper for composition or the empty theatrics of throwing things around the stage to convince us of his modernity. And he never requires us to bring anything to his music but an open mind and our ears.
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