"The Vocal Music of Charles Ives," Parnassus [Fall 1975]

 

...Nearly all of Ives' songs are at least slightly "eccentric" in the context of their time. I include in this category even that substantial number of the total output--- say, thirty or forty---which one ought to set aside as juvenilia, or, as vain attempts to compose in a polite idiom. Cowell remarks that Ives wrote songs of this type throughout his creative life, whenever, as a result of criticism from "serious" musicians, his confidence in experiment flagged. However that may be, the "polite" idiom was thoroughly foreign, both to his temperament and to his musical gifts... The post-Brahmsian pitch and rhythmic vocabulary simply would not permit Ives to express what he needed to say; thus, he ran roughshod over it, or tried to bend it to his creative requirements. I do not believe that the eccentricities in Ives' more traditional songs are the result of "ineptitude" half so much as "frustration."...

 

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"The 'California School' Examination" performed at the Intermuse Colloquium, University of South Florida, Tampa [January 1976]

 

Directions: This examination is intended to test individual and collective aptitude for musical composition according to standards established by composers of the "California School." Residence in the state of California is not a prerequisite for participation in the activities of the School...

 

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From "Larry Austin's Second Fantasy on Ives' 'Universe Symphony'" [read at ASUC Convention, University of Illinois [March 1977]

 

...Austin decided at an early stage in the composition of the Second Fantasy to reflect Ives' apparent fascination with prime numbers---sequences of which may be found in the margins of some sketch pages---through the syntax of his own contributions to the complete texture of the work. In the final section of Second Fantasy, where, for example, a floating, trailing-off effect is desired, Austin decided to use nothing more than the sequence of 24 chords specified by Ives for Section C of A Universe Symphony with durations determined by diminishing prime number multiples of a quarter note pulse. Thus, the final chord has a duration of one quarter note, the penultimate chord has a duration of two quarter notes and so on...

 

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"Careerism and Chance Music: A Proposal," EAR [Jan/Feb 1979]

 

The other day, I saw a score of a "composition" which consisted of a collection of squiggly lines more or less resembling the cross-section of a tree stump. Directions for the realization of the stump included specific instrumentation, dynamics, and a general description of the emotional quality to be projected by sounds made in performance. The informality of this score is by no means unique among the documents of "works" created in the last fifteen years or so...

 

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"Howard Hanson; The Conservatory's Most Famous Dean Remembered," Pacific Review [Winter 1996]

 

In 1916, College of the Pacific President, John Lawrence Seaton hired the 19-year-old Hanson to head the music theory department while Hanson was still a teaching assistant at Northwestern University. At that time Pacific was in dire financial circumstances, having lost two important buildings---the dining hall and the library---to arson fires over the prior two years. The college was without significant fiscal endowment and Seaton, who had been hired in 1914 on his reputation as a fund-raiser, was obliged, from the moment he assumed office, to dig out of a deep financial hole...

 

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From "Henry Cowell (1897-1965)" in Music of the 20thc. Avant-garde, ed. Larry Sitsky Greenwood Press [2002]

 

...Essentially an autodidact, Cowell's earliest efforts at composition from 1912 to 1919 were driven entirely by his imaginative need to express, through means at his disposal, impressions of the Gaelic legends told him by his parents. He sought first to evoke the wind, tides, and spirits of these tales through new methods of playing the piano that included strumming and plucking the strings and playing the keys with fists and forearms. Other composers, such as Ives and Leo Ornstein, employed the latter techniques at about the same time, but Cowell alone developed a substantial repertoire of music to be played inside the piano. His piano works were especially influential on his avant-garde pupil John Cage, who---inspired by an idea of Cowell's---later created a literature for a piano called "prepared piano," in which the tones of the instrument were modified by the placement of objects upon its strings...

 

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From "Charles Ives [1874-1954]" in Music of the 20th c. Avant-garde, Larry Sitsky, ed. Greenwood Press [2002]

 

Between 1895 and 1915, Ives probably examined and used more systems of pitch organization than any other composer. He experimented with polytonality, atonality, forms of serialism, and mixtures of all of these at a time when the expanded tonality of Aleksandr Skryabin was considered the most daring musical language on the planet...

 

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