Charles Ives in the Mirror

Charles Ives in the Mirror : American Histories of an Iconic Composer

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In this sweeping survey of intellectual and musical history, David C. Paul tells the new story of how the music of American composer Charles Ives (1874-1954) was shaped by shifting conceptions of American identity within and outside of musical culture. Paul focuses on the critics, composers, performers, and scholars whose contributions were most influential in shaping the critical discourse on Ives, many of them marquee names of American musical culture themselves, including Henry Cowell, Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, and Leonard Bernstein. Paul explores both how Ives positioned his music amid changing philosophical and aesthetic currents and how others interpreted his contributions to American music. Although Ives's initial efforts to find a public in the early twenties attracted a few devotees, the resurgence of interest in the American literary past during the thirties made a concert staple of his "Concord" Sonata, a work dedicated to nineteenth-century transcendentalist writers. Paul shows how Ives was subsequently deployed as an icon of American freedom during the early Cold War period and how he came to be instigated at the head of a line of "American maverick" composers. Paul also examines why a recent cadre of scholars has beset the composer with Gilded Age social anxieties.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 312 pages
  • 152.4 x 233.68 x 25.4mm | 521.63g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 10 black and white photographs
  • 0252080513
  • 9780252080517

Review quote

"Paul has crafted an ambitious intellectual history, putting Ives at the centre of diverse forces, including the history of twentieth-century composition, the legacy of transcendentalism, the cultural marketing of the Cold War and the rise of American Studies and American Musicology. This is not a book about Ives's music or his life, but rather a meta history that focuses on the composer's advocates, critics and chroniclers. Essentially, it probes the complex ways in which a gifted creative artist achieves broad-based fame, and then, in a sense, becomes public property-a figure to be reviled or adored or forgotten as time marches on."-Times Literary Supplement "David Paul's interest lies with how Ives's reflection is colored by the viewpoints of other Americans. He has written the first book-length reception history of the composer since his relatively recent passing in 1954... He asks his readers to embrace and even celebrate subjectivity, both in their understanding of Ives as a historical figure and universally in history at large."--Notes "An engaging and comprehensive account of the reception history of Charles Edward Ives. . . .The book will undoubtedly become an essential tool for the study of Ives."-- Choice
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About David C. Paul

David C. Paul is an assistant professor of musicology and theory at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
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Rating details

6 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 33% (2)
4 33% (2)
3 33% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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