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Ebook Information

Charles Ives's Concord

Essays after a Sonata

A revolutionary exploration of Ives' transcendent masterpiece

In 1921, insurance executive Charles Ives sent out copies of a piano sonata to two hundred strangers. Laden with dissonant chords, complex rhythm, and a seemingly chaotic structure, the so-called Concord Sonata confounded the recipients, as did the accompanying book, Essays before a Sonata.

Kyle Gann merges exhaustive research with his own experience as a composer to reveal the Concord Sonata and the essays in full. Diffracting the twinned works into their essential aspects, Gann lays out the historical context that produced Ives's masterpiece and illuminates the arguments Ives himself explored in the Essays. Gann also provides a movement-by-movement analysis of the work's harmonic structure and compositional technique; connects the sonata to Ives works that share parts of its material; and compares the 1921 version of the Concord with its 1947 revision to reveal important aspects of Ives's creative process.

A tour de force of critical, theoretical, and historical thought, Charles Ives's Concord provides nothing less than the first comprehensive consideration of a work at the heart of twentieth century American music.


"Not only an important addition to the thinking about Ives, but a moving companion to the artist and the Concord."--Wire

"Goes far beyond any existing literature in this domain. It's possibly the best analytical writing about a major Ives composition that I've seen."--William Brooks, University of York

"It is refreshing to read such a passionate description of a major work of art which is so profoundly meaningful to the author. Practically every page is informative, or contains new insight into the work. By far the best work ever done on the subject."--Neely Bruce, Wesleyan University


Kyle Gann is a composer and the Taylor Hawver and Frances Bortle Hawver Professor of Music at Bard College. He is the author of No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33" and Robert Ashley.

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