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Charles  Ives
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Charles Ives (1874-1954)


String Quartet No. 1, Op. 57, From the Salvation Army - A Revival Service

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
I. Chorale. Andante con moto
II. Prelude. Allegro
III. Offertory. Adagio cantabile
IV. Postlude. Allegro marziale
Composed between 1897-1900, when Ives was around 23-26 years old
22 minutes (approximately)
3 recordings, 12 videos
5:52
Juilliard String Quartet
I. Chorale. Andante con moto
5:17
Juilliard String Quartet
II. Prelude. Allegro
6:58
Juilliard String Quartet
III. Offertory. Adagio cantabile
5:50
Juilliard String Quartet
IV. Postlude. Allegro marziale
4:55
Emerson String Quartet
I. Chorale. Andante con moto
5:36
Emerson String Quartet
II. Prelude. Allegro
5:36
Emerson String Quartet
III. Offertory. Adagio cantabile
5:20
Emerson String Quartet
IV. Postlude. Allegro marziale
5:32
Lydian String Quartet
I. Chorale. Andante con moto
5:47
Lydian String Quartet
II. Prelude. Allegro
5:29
Lydian String Quartet
III. Offertory. Adagio cantabile
5:13
Lydian String Quartet
IV. Postlude. Allegro marziale

Charles Ives, 1874-1954

String Quartet No. 1, From the Salvation Army – A Revival Service, 1897-1900

“The way to write American music is simple. All you have to do is be an American and then write any kind of music you wish.”
- Virgil Thomson

“One thing I am certain of is that, if I have done anything good in music, it was, first, because of my father, and second, because of my wife”
- Charles Ives

Charles IvesFor many music lovers, the name “Charles Ives” is apt to provoke one of two responses: Who is Charles Ives? or, Oh no, its Charles Ives! Both reactions inform a fruitful summary of Ives along with an insightful invitation to his truly marvelous String Quartet No 1. The life and music of Charles Ives makes a unique and fascinating tale with which Kens Burns could have a field day. Ives was as American as apple pie. Merely a decade after the death of Stephen Foster, Ives was born and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, from a well-established family, studied at Yale and eventually founded an insurance consulting and sales firm in New York that made him a considerably wealthy man. He retired in his mid-fifties and lived until he was seventy-nine, passing away in 1954, the year Elvis Presley made his first recordings. Throughout his life, Ives attended church, was passionate about baseball and football, studied the New England transcendental writers and sustained a deep, nostalgic love for American culture while remaining a fierce, rugged individual. Musically, his lifespan embraced a variety of interesting musical trends from minstrelsy, spirituals, ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, blues, gospel, jazz and rock and roll on one hand, while, on the other, late Romanticism, Debussy, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and a bewildering array of “isms” in the “classical” world.

The musical life of Charles Ives is truly remarkable. His father was a well-trained full-time professional musician serving as a bandleader in the Civil war and a community teacher, conductor and player thereafter. Ives learned much from his father whose adventurous musical tutelage had young Charles playing the piano in one key while singing in another, savoring the heterophony of multiple marching bands playing different tunes simultaneously, writing a fugue with each voice in a different key and so on. Through his father, Ives developed a love of American “vernacular” music including the songs of Stephen Foster, the marches of Sousa and the hymns and anthems arising from the Christian revival movement including its populist camp meetings where he father was often the music director. Ives became a paid organist in local churches at the age of 14 and maintained a professional career as organist and choir director for well over a decade. It was not until he matriculated to Yale that Ives really began to absorb the traditional classical canon, receiving a full undergraduate training in music including composition with the German-trained Horatio Parker. Despite moving on into the insurance business as his fulltime “day job”, Ives spent evenings and weekends composing, amassing a staggering body of unpublished work that ingeniously blended American “popular” music and the European classical tradition including numerous 20th century innovations placing him firmly in the avant-garde. His oeuvre includes symphonies, songs, sonatas and chamber music among other things. Today, Ives is internationally regarded as one of the most important early 20th composers, certainly America’s first.

While one of the most recent, apparent innovations of popular music is “sampling”, Ives was doing it before the turn of the last century. Composed between 1897 and 1900, his first string quartet samples at least dozen popular hymns but sliced and diced to produce a unique mix. The quartet is, itself, an assemblage combining the first movement, a contrapuntal exercise for organ composed during his sophomore year, with a three-movement “revival” service composed for organ and strings, the original manuscript of which has been lost. The finished composite quartet is a perfect early showcase for many of Ives’ characteristic techniques: tunefulness based on quotes or variations popular songs, rhythmic vitality, adventurous harmony, and the layering of multiple simultaneous ideas in a delightfully chaotic complexity. And, particularly with this early example for string quartet, here Ives is engaging, accessible, playful, and full of lyrical beauty. Despite Dvořák’s famous quartet composed only a few years before, this is the real “American” quartet. The year after Ives completed the work, Louis Armstrong was born.