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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