Charles Ives is widely regarded as the first great American composer of classical music. But listening to his music is an adventure—hearing how a piece begins may not prepare you for what comes next, or how it ends. Knowing one Ives piece may not prepare you for another.
Award-winning music historian J. Peter Burkholder provides an introduction to the composer’s diverse musical output and unusual career to readers of any background, discussing about forty of the best and most characteristic pieces framed with biographical sketches. Burkholder shows how Ives mastered each tradition he encountered, from American popular music to classical European genres, from Protestant church music to his own unique experimental idiom, and then interwove elements from all these traditions in the astonishing works of his maturity. Listening to Charles Ives contains compelling walkthroughs of select pieces and ultimately reveals that there is an Ives piece for everyone.
J. Peter Burkholder is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He is the author of the recent editions of A History of Western Music (2019, with Donald Jay Grout and Claude V. Palisca) and Norton Anthology of Western Music (2019, with Claude V. Palisca). He has served as president of the American Musicological Society and of the Charles Ives Society.
Whether an experienced Ivesian or coming to the music for the first time, read, listen, and enjoy.
Part deejay, part docent, J. Peter Burkholder takes us on a tour of Charles Ives’s music, clearly laying out the markers of the composer’s expertly inventive and compassionate imagination.
Lucky Ives, to have an advocate as eloquent as Burkholder. No one knows Ives better, no one loves his music more, and no one communicates with greater verve its intensely affecting qualities.
It’s a delight when a leading expert explains his specialty in simple terms, as Burkholder does here with Charles Ives. He’s given non-musicians a thruway into Ives’s complex and colorful world.