40 Facts About Charles Ives


Charles Edward Ives was an American modernist composer, one of the first American composers of international renown.


Charles Ives's music was largely ignored during his early career, and many of his works went unperformed for many years.


Charles Ives was among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music, with musical techniques including polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatory elements, and quarter tones.


Charles Ives's experimentation foreshadowed many musical innovations that were later more widely adopted during the 20th century.


George Charles Ives directed bands, choirs, and orchestras, and taught music theory and a number of instruments.


Charles Ives's father taught him and his brother Moss Ives music, teaching harmony and counterpoint and guided his first compositions; George took an open-minded approach to theory, encouraging him to experiment in bitonal and polytonal harmonizations.


Charles Ives moved to New Haven, Connecticut in 1893, enrolling in the Hopkins School, where he captained the baseball team.


In September 1894, Charles Ives entered Yale University, studying under Horatio Parker.


At Yale, Charles Ives was a prominent figure; he was a member of HeBoule, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Wolf's Head Society, and sat as chairman of the Ivy Committee.


Charles Ives enjoyed sports at Yale and played on the varsity American football team.


Charles Ives wrote his Symphony No 1 as his senior thesis under Parker's supervision.


Charles Ives continued his work as a church organist until May 1902.


In 1907, Charles Ives suffered the first of several "heart attacks" that he had throughout his life.


Charles Ives continued to be a prolific composer until he suffered another of several heart attacks in 1918, after which he composed very little.


Charles Ives wrote his last piece, the song "Sunrise," in August 1926.


Charles Ives could compose no more, he said; "nothing sounds right".


Charles Ives published a large collection of songs, many of which had piano parts.


Charles Ives composed two string quartets and other works of chamber music, though he is best known for his orchestral music.


Charles Ives composed four numbered symphonies as well as a number of works with the word 'Symphony' in their titles, as well as The Unanswered Question, written for the unusual combination of trumpet, four flutes, and string quartet.


Around 1910, Charles Ives began composing his most accomplished works, including the Holiday Symphony and Three Places in New England.


Charles Ives started work on this in 1911 and completed most of it in 1915.


Charles Ives left behind material for an unfinished Universe Symphony, which he was unable to complete despite two decades of work.


Charles Ives's music was largely ignored during his life, particularly during the years in which he actively composed.


Early supporters of Charles Ives's music included Henry Cowell, Elliott Carter, and Aaron Copland.


Charles Ives began to acquire some public recognition during the 1930s, with performances of a chamber orchestra version of his Three Places in New England, both in the US and on tour in Europe by conductor Nicolas Slonimsky.


Charles Ives gave the prize money away, saying "prizes are for boys, and I'm all grown up".


Charles Ives was a generous financial supporter of twentieth-century music, often financing works that were written by other composers.


Charles Ives, who avoided the radio and the phonograph, agreed to make a series of piano recordings from 1933 to 1943.


Charles Ives received praise from Arnold Schoenberg, who regarded him as a monument to artistic integrity, and from the New York School of William Schuman.


Charles Ives is not forced to accept praise or blame.


Charles Ives reportedly won the admiration of Gustav Mahler, who said that he was a true musical revolutionary.


Charles Ives regularly attended New York Philharmonic concerts and probably heard Mahler conduct the Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall.


Charles Ives honored Ives on one of his televised youth concerts and in a special disc included with the reissue of the 1960 recording of the second symphony and the "Fourth of July" movement from Ives's Holiday Symphony.


Charles Ives has inspired pictorial artists, most notably Eduardo Paolozzi, who entitled one of his 1970s sets of prints Calcium Light Night, each print being named for an Ives piece.


The Unanswered Charles Ives is an hour-long film documentary directed by Anne-Kathrin Peitz and produced by Accentus Music.


Note: Because Charles Ives often made several different versions of the same piece, and because his work was generally ignored during his life, it is often difficult to put exact dates on his compositions.


Charles Ives proposed in 1920 that there be a 20th Amendment to the US Constitution which would authorize citizens to submit legislative proposals to Congress.


Charles Ives even had printed at his own expense several thousand copies of a pamphlet on behalf of his proposed amendment.


Charles Ives planned to distribute the pamphlets at the 1920 Republican National Convention, but they arrived from the printer after the convention had ended.


Roosevelt was chairman of a war bonds committee on which Charles Ives served, and he "scorned the idea of anything so useless as a $50 bond".