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The Ives Project

“Dear Daddy,
“You are so very modest and sweet Daddy, that I don’t think you realize the full import of the words people use about you, ‘A great man.’
“Daddy, I have had a chance to see so many men lately — fine fellows, and no doubt the cream of our generation. But I have never in all my life come across one who could measure up to the fine standard of life and living and you believe in, and that I have always seen you put into action no matter how many counts were against you. You have fire and imagination that is truly a divine speak, but to me the great thing is that never once have you tried to turn your gift to your own ends. Instead you have continually given to humanity right from your heart, asking nothing in return; — and all too often getting nothing. The thing that makes me happiest about your recognition today is to see the bread you have so generously cast upon most ungrateful waters, finally beginning to return to you. All that great love is flowing back to you at least. Don’t refuse it because it comes so late, Daddy.” #

When I first encountered Edie’s letter, in Tom Owens’ ChSelected Correspondence of Charles Ives (2007), I knew it had to become part of a public presentation. I realized, in an instant, that Ives — himself a writer of distinction — was a prime candidate for a concert with actors that would mutually illuminate Ives the man and Ives the composer. The result is “Charles Ives: A Life in Music,” which this November launches Post-Classical Ensemble’s 2011-2012 season as part of a three-day “Ives Project.” #


  1. It’s good to read that effort is being put into the Ives legacy. I remember reading about Ives in the Virgil Thompson book American Music Since 1910 when I was much younger. At the time Ives was still being “fairly regularly” performed and I also remember seeing television broadcasts of both is orchestral work and a biographical portrait I haven’t seen since. Somehow, and this is a personal feeling not based on any real fact, I think the rise of minimal music in popularity and influence pretty much banished Ives to the back burner once again. I like minimalism but I do think minimal music is a type of music that can bring all the “Rollos and Lilly pads” (as Ives termed them), out in force; much to the detriment of the highly reflective music Ives composed.

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