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The Music of Charles Ives (Composers of the Twentieth Century Series)

Philip Lambert


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With this innovative analysis of the music of Charles Ives, Philip Lambert fills a significant gap in the literature on one of America’s most important composers. Lambert offers the first large-scale theoretical study of Ives’s repertoire, encompassing major works in all genres. He argues that systematic techniques governed Ives’s compositional language and thinking about music, even in his unconventional and apparently unstructured pieces. He portrays Ives as a composer of great diversity and complexity who nevertheless held to a single artistic vision.

Using modes of analysis for post-tonal music and approaches devised specifically for the study of Ives as well, the author explains the origin, evolution, and culmination of Ives’s systematic methods. He discusses important aspects of the composer’s early training, the relation between Ives’s experimental and his concert music, Ives’s fugal and canonic techniques as the basis for his systematic music, his paradigms of procedure and transformation, and pitch relations in Ives’s music, particularly the unfinished Universe Symphony. Lambert refutes the popular image of Ives as a highly eccentric composer haphazardly casting about for arbitrarily regulated ways of generating musical material and instead portrays him as a keenly determined and resourceful artist who gradually discovered ever more powerful tools for creating remarkably original music.

Yale University Press, 9780300105346, 256pp.

Publication Date: August 11, 1997