Happy birthday, Charles Ives

American Modernist composer Charles Ives was born on October 20, 1874.

In his book Charles Ives in the Mirror: American Histories of an Iconic Composer, David C. Paul charts the changes in the reception of Ives across the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century. 

Ives’ name is one that still evokes praise from some and derision from others.

In the book’s introduction Paul writes :

It is a name that has prompted some of the most extravagant encomiums from American musicians.  “Charles Ives,” Leonard Bernstein famously declared in 1958, “has been said over and over to be our greatest, our first really great composer; our price and our passion; our Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson of music.”

In a UIP Q&A about Charles Ives in the Mirror, Paul says that Ives, who composed in obscurity for much of his life only to be celebrated in his later years was “venerated as the patriarch of American music; at the other, he has been vilified as the greatest musical snake-oil salesman of all time.”