reading notes

Ives’s techniques: “simultaneous clashes of different meters and keys, odd rhythms and syncopations, “synthetic chords,” and microtones” are used to create more “directly natural sonic events than from an interest in gadgets for their own sake”

The fifth in the sonata “carries from movement to movement and, according to the composer, calls to mind nothing less than ‘the Soul of humanity knocking at the door of the Divine mysteries, radiant in the faith that it will be opened – and the human become the Divine!’”

Beethoven and transcendentalists are together as “spiritual pilgrims”

More focused on meaning behind than the sonata form/structure

His rhythm is a “rhythm of prose”, specifically emerson’s

Music works for revelation in the moment

Fifth in “Emerson”: “lightening bolts of prophecy”, “stormy, dreamy, frenzied, hymn-like”

“Hawthorne” Second movement. Purpose: relentless of guilt, elves in forest, puritan past, Hawthorn-great recorder of 19th century.

“Alcotts” Third movement. Sentiment and tenderness

Alcotts-Aunt Sarah-took in orphans and worked all day, hiked to prayer meeting-divine. “Significantly, it is in “The Alcotts” that Beethoven’s quote begins as a parlor song and ends with a grand, full statement in ringing C Major”

Begins with first four notes motive as a “Parlor song” then ends as grand C major.

Thoreau” Fourth Movement. Hints of Beethoven.

Flute in sonata: includes flute that uses Beethoven’s quote in full form for only time in piece.

Why a flute in a piano sonata? “ As Ives said, “Is it the composer’s fault that man has only ten fingers?”’

Flute represents Thoreau-who played it.

Movement is about simplicity and “plain speaking” and Ive’s theories of a music of “pure substance” (classicalnet)

History of Ives:

  • father taught him to sing in one key while he accompanied in another
  • who tells the boy he can write any chord as long as he knows the reason for it”
  • Experimenting when everyone tells him he’s crazy
  • began as organist
  • attended Yale for music
  • composed European-Romantic Symphony No. 1 and string quartet
  • “George Ives told his son Charlie that any music, from the grandest symphony to a sentimental song sung in a parlor to a barroom piano belting out ragtime, if it is earnest and authentic in the doing, is a manifestation of something deeply human.”
  • paint pictures of exaltation, music to touch heart and soul
  • Wrote proper pieces and experimental
  • resigned form church to focus on experimental work-abjured sonata and symphony, said ‘“The nice German recipe,” he growled. “To hell with it!”’
  • concord sonata-sonata in Beethoven tradition
  • surface and substance


“the ambivalence Ives felt toward the composer that he believed came nearest his ideal,” noting further that “Ives’s reverence for Beethoven was tempered by competition” (p. 4).

One thought on “reading notes

  1. HI Hattie, I am looking now for some opening paragraphs to your paper, this post is way back on April 14th. Your list of things here is all excellent information, so time to sit down and write. Your opening paragraph should state what it is you are wishing to explore in this paper. I’m not sure you’ve really narrowed this down — as a paper on Ives and Beethoven is also a book. Please post by class tomorrow a couple of paragraphs that clearly state how you have narrowed down your thesis to something smaller and clearer? Of all that you’re read about Ives and the Concord Sonata (you should at least focus on just this piece
    ), what do you want to say about it?

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