Turning 137: We Heart Charles Ives

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As a special birthday treat, for today only download above the entire Violin Sonata No. 4, "Children's Day at the Camp Meeting" off the recent recording by violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Valentina Lisitsa. 

Charles Ives was born on this day in Danbury, Connecticut, son of a bandleader and transcendentalist father (George E. Ives) and well-known choir singing mother (Mary Elizabeth Parmelee). In appreciation of a composer known more in his day as a successful insurance salesman, but recognized now as one of the unequivocal forefathers of American classical music, Q2 Music presents at 7 pm tonight a special tribute devoted to the music of Ives. 

If Ives's upbringing in a musically progressive household and his natural athletic disposition predetermined to some degree the sense of bold experimentation and originality, nothing could have predicted his influence on future generations of musicians. From a liberated approach to structure, tonality, scales, rhythm, quotation and even permissible sounds, nothing was too sacred to discourage the radical compositional upheavals that continue to reverberate and inspire to this day. 

It's a description from the Hopkins Critic in 1894 however that perhaps summarizes his musical spirit most succinctly, even if it's referring to his performance as the winning pitcher for Hopkins Grammar School! "Ives is a little apt to be wild, but he plays coolly and is very quick at catching men napping at bases." Transpose those phrases to the worlds of style, integrity and tradition, respectively, and you have an uncanny image of Ives the composer. 

Violinist Hilary Hahn, pianist Cory Smythe and audience provide an early "Happy Birthday" to Charles Ives at The Stone on October 10, 2011: