Hearing the Symphony without Going to Boston

Thoreau-birthplaceNext Sunday at 2 (Oct. 20, Ives’s birthday) I will present a lecture, “Thoreau’s Flute and Charles Ives’s Concord Sonata” at Henry David Thoreau’s birthplace in Concord, Massachusetts. Drawn from my upcoming book on the Concord, the talk will trace a simple argument, based on the manuscripts, that the sonata’s “Human Faith” melody was originally conceived as being Thoreau’s flute over Walden Pond, and from there made its way into the other movements of the sonata. This will be a welcome chance to present to non-musicians, and I’m enjoying my forays outside my usual professional sphere; No Such Thing as Silence gave me a chance to write about Zen, and for Essays After a Sonata I’ve enjoyed researching late-19th-century aesthetics (which I already knew a lot about) and the history of theological disputes in American protestantism. After all, I’ve been studying Transcendentalism for its own sake for many years, and have tried at every opportunity to get the administrators of Concord’s many literary museums interested in Ives. Maybe this will be my breakthrough.




  1. says

    Why, that sounds delightful. I’m surprised to see that Ives shares a birthday with Alphonse Allais, whose work I’ve been translating. There’s something for astrologers to ponder…

    KG replies: And also the composer Elodie Lauten – along with Jelly Roll Morton, Rimbaud, Mickey Mantle, and Bela Lugosi.

  2. Jim Dalton says

    I wish we could make it to see you speak in Concord. I’m preparing to go to Scotland for The “Beyond the Semitone” conference (giving a paper on Johnston’s 9th quartet AND having a piece performed) — so logistics may not allow. We’ll be there if we can.

    KG replies: Love to see you both if you can make it. And “Beyond the Semitone” in Scotland? Why wasn’t I informed?!

  3. says

    I wish I could hear you speak, but I look forward to reading your book. I remember fondly our visit to Concord, to the birthplace and the gravesite, and marveling at Thoreau’s flute.