Breaking Time's Arrow

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<P>Charles Ives (1874–1954) moved traditional compositional practice in new directions by incorporating modern and innovative techniques with nostalgic borrowings of 19th century American popular music and Protestant hymns. Matthew McDonald argues that the influence of Emerson and Thoreau on Ives's compositional style freed the composer from ordinary ideas of time and chronology, allowing him to recuperate the past as he reached for the musical unknown. McDonald links this concept of the multi-temporal in Ives’s works to Transcendentalist understandings of eternity. His approach to Ives opens new avenues for inquiry into the composer's eclectic and complex style.</P>
<P>Preface<BR>Acknowledgements<BR>Introduction: Ives and Time<BR>Part I: Three Dualities<BR>1. God/Man: I Come to Thee and Psalm 14<BR>2. Community/individual: Sonata No. 1 for Piano and String Quartet No. 2<BR>3. Intuition/expression: "Nov. 2, 1920" and "Grantchester"<BR>Part II: Contexts and Methodologies<BR>4. Elements of Narrative: The Unanswered Question<BR>5. Ives and the Now: "The Things Our Fathers Loved"<BR>6. Cumulative Composition: Ives’s Emerson Music<BR>Notes<BR>Bibliography<BR>Index</P>

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Published 16 June 2014
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Breaking Time’s Arrow
MUSICAL MEANING AND INTERPRETATION Robert S. Hatten, editor
A Theory of Musical Narrative Byron Almén
Approaches to Meaning in Music Byron Almén and Edward Pearsall
Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera Naomi André
The Italian Traditions and Puccini: Compositional Theory and Practice in Nineteenth-Century Opera Nicholas Baragwanath
Debussy Redux: The Impact of His Music on Popular Culture Matthew Brown
Music and the Politics of Negation James R. Currie
Il Trittico, Turandot,and Puccini’s Late Style Andrew Davis
Neil Young and the Poetics of Energy William Echard
Interpreting Musical Gestures, Topics, and Tropes: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert Robert S. Hatten
Musical Meaning in Beethoven: Markedness, Correlation, and Interpretation Robert S. Hatten
Intertextuality in Western Art Music Michael L. Klein
Music and Narrative since 1900 Michael L. Klein and Nicholas Reyland
Musical Forces: Motion, Metaphor, and Meaning in Music Steve Larson
Is Language a Music? Writings on Musical Form and Signification David Lidov
Pleasure and Meaning in the Classical Symphony Melanie Lowe
Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz: A Study of Dance-Music Relations in 3/4 Time Eric McKee
The Musical Topic: Hunt, Military, Pastoral
Raymond Monelle
Musical Representations, Subjects, and Objects: The Construction of Musical Thought in Zarlino, Descartes, Rameau, and Weber Jairo Moreno
Deepening Musical Performance through Movement: The Theory and Practice of Embodied Interpretation Alexandra Pierce
Expressive Forms in Brahms’s Instrumental Music: Structure and Meaning in His Werther Quartet Peter H. Smith
Expressive Intersections in Brahms: Essays in Analysis and Meaning Heather Platt and Peter H. Smith
Music as Philosophy: Adorno and Beethoven’s Late Style Michael Spitzer
Death in Winterreise: Musico-Poetic Associations in Schubert’s Song Cycle Lauri Suurpää
Music and Wonder at the Medici Court: The 1589 Interludes for La pellegrina Nina Treadwell
Reflections on Musical Meaning and Its Representations Leo Treitler
Debussy’s Late Style: The Compositions of the Great War Marianne Wheeldon
Breaking Time’s Arrow
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press Office of Scholarly Publishing Herman B Wells Library 350 1320 East 10th Street Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
iupress.indiana.edu
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© 2014 by Matthew McDonald All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
McDonald, Matthew (Matthew James), author. Breaking time’s arrow : experiment and expression in the music of Charles Ives / Matthew McDonald. pages cm — (Musical meaning and interpretation) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-253-01273-9 (cloth : alkaline paper) — ISBN 978-0-253-01276-0 (ebook) 1. Ives, Charles, 1874-1954—Criticism and interpretation. I. Title. II. Series: Musical meaning and interpretation. ML410.I94M45 2014 780.92—dc23 2014012350
1 2 3 4 5 19 18 17 16 15 14
Contents
Preface Acknowledgments
Introduction: Ives and Time
Part I: Three Dualities
1. God/Man:I Come to TheeandPsalm 14
2. Community/Individual: Sonata No. 1 for Piano and String Quartet No. 2
3. Intuition/Expression: “Nov. 2, 1920” and “Grantchester”
Part II: Contexts and Methodologies
4. Elements of Narrative:The Unanswered Question
5. Ives and the Now: “The Things Our Fathers Loved”
6. Cumulative Composition: Ives’s Emerson Music
Notes Bibliography Index
Preface
In 2001, I began researching the music of Charles Ives. I spent countless hours at the piano that summer, familiarizing myself with every score I could get my hands on. I particularly remember accompanying myself through the entire set of114 Songs—quite a feat, as I’m a pianist but no singer. Originally, I had outlined a thorough consideration of time and temporality in Ives’s music, but, ultimately, a small portion of this outline ballooned into the entire project. After completing my thesis and converting one chapter into an article, I had no plans or desire to develop the material further, but after a few years, rejuvenated, I returned to the research as the partial foundation for a new book project. By this time, however, I had grown dissatisfied with much of my previous work and discarded it in favor of completely new material. I envisioned that this would be a “definitive” statement of my ideas about Ives’s music, a culmination of my work over the previous several years. It eventually became clear, however, that I would never be fully satisfied with the book and could tinker with it forever; the printed version, inevitably, would always feel unfinished. Its fixed form belies the reality of my research, which would be better represented by the endless pages of notes and drafts on my desk and hard drive, many discarded or forgotten, their potential contribution to the whole left unclear or undetermined. Around 1910, Charles Ives began work on what he referred to as an overture or concerto inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Originally, this was to be one in a set of several overtures devoted to great “Men of Literature,” but ultimately Ives made significant progress on only two. While composing theAmerson Overture,Ives developed some of its cadenzas as studies for solo piano, one of which he completed. After suspending work on the overture, Ives had no evident plans to develop the material further, but he later returned to it as the foundation for a new piece, the first movement of theConcord Sonata. For the Concordmovement, however, Ives discarded much of the music of the overture and added a significant amount of new material. The first movement of theConcord, many believe, is the “definitive” musical expression of Ives’s ideas about Emerson, and in 1920 Ives presented it to the musical community as the culmination of his work as a composer. Ives stated on many occasions, however, that he would likely never be fully satisfied with the music and could tinker with it forever; the “Emerson” music, inevitably, would remain “unfinished.” The fixed form of theConcordbelies the reality of Ives’s musical movement conception, which is better represented by the multiple versions and endless pages of sketches and emendations, many discarded or forgotten, their status unclear or undetermined. At this point it may seem that I have been writing about Ives for so long that I can no longer separate my own creative process from his. But the parallels I have drawn are both genuine and unsurprising. Writing about music is in large part a creative act, and one that has much in common with writing music. Perhaps there are music scholars who produce essays like Mozart produced scores, but most of us, I suspect, follow the Beethovenian model. Academic writing, especially in the era of word processing, is largely a process of cutting and pasting, deletions and insertions. Like most pieces of music, the finished academic product presents itself confidently, with few traces of its convoluted genesis. But here is where the analogy with Ives’s music ends. Ives’s music is remarkable for the extent to which it bears the traces of its Frankensteinian construction. Pieces are often characterized by extreme fragmentation, stark juxtapositions of highly contrasting segments of music that are very often borrowed from other sources or from Ives’s own body of work. While studying Ives’s compositional process, as when actually writing about it, I began to experience my scholarly work in parallel with Ives’s compositional work. As I examined
Ives’s notoriously unruly manuscripts, the process of negotiating the photocopies (organized in folders within boxes), the manuscripts themselves (organized likewise), the printed scores, and the formidable catalogues of John Kirkpatrick and James Sinclair made me feel that I was being forced to channel Ives himself, to embody his peculiar sense of organization—or lack thereof—as I tried to keep these various documents, boxes, books, and other materials organized on the medium-sized desk assigned to me in the Yale music library and the growing number of trolleys at my side. But channeling Ives is not an experience that holds much appeal. Ives is a fascinating and problematic figure. There is much to admire about his life and views, and much to be critical of as well. These topics require an even-handed approach, one that has too often been missing in studies of the composer and his music. Frank Rossiter drew attention to what he called the “Ives Legend,” brilliantly explicating the mythology through an eight-point dissection of an article by the critic R. D. Darrell (Rossiter 1975: 248–49). More recently, Gayle Sherwood Magee has pointed to the persistence of this legend and “the advocacy role that shapes most scholarship and biography” (2008: 2). Ives’s musical output is exceptionally eclectic, which has always been a big part of its attraction for me. But although I love much of it, I’ll freely admit that there are more than a few pieces I don’t care for. And as for his ideas, they run the gamut from inspiring to repugnant. Nonetheless, his music and ideas create unique and fertile imaginative spaces through which to listen to and think about music. This is what brought me back to Ives’s music as a subject, and this is the aspect of my subject I hope to elucidate and enrich.
* * *
Some General Notes Regarding Dates and Nomenclature
Dating Ives’s music is an immense challenge that has been taken on by many over the years. Ives himself provided the early data, with John Kirkpatrick doing the heavy lifting after Ives’s death, his work culminating in theTemporary Mimeographed Catalogue(1960). More recently, Magee and James Sinclair have worked toward an updated, more reliable chronology. Throughout the book, I draw on the latter scholarship, as reported in Grove Music Online (Burkholder, Sherwood, and Sinclair 2012) and amplified in Sinclair’sĀ Descriptive Catalogue of The Music of Charles IvesReaders interested in more (1999). detail should begin by consulting Sinclair’s catalogue. • All references to manuscripts from the Charles Ives Collection at Yale University follow James Sinclair’s microfilm numbers; these are always designated with an “f” followed by a four-digit number (“f6678,” for example). • When relevant, pitches are identified using the scientific nomenclature that designates middle C as C4, the pitch one octave above as C5, the pitch one whole step below as B 3, and so forth. • Barlines appear only sporadically in the printed editions of many works, such as the Concord“Majority,” “Nov. 2, 1920,” and “Grantchester.” For these pieces, I Sonata, will refer to specific passages by identifying the page, system, and (when applicable) measure. For example, in the original, 1922 edition of Ives’s114 Songs,50/1/2” “p. would refer to the second measure of the first system on p. 50 (from the opening of “Nov. 2, 1920”); “p. 51/1” would refer to the first system on p. 51, which is not subdivided into measures.
Acknowledgments
It is a pleasure to thank the individuals and organizations that have provided me essential assistance and support. Much of my work on this book was supported by a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies. A Provost Grant from Northeastern University funded my study of the Charles Ives Papers at Yale University. Most recently, a generous subvention grant from the Charles Ives Society assisted with production of the book. The series editor, Robert Hatten, was enthusiastic from the beginning; his close reading of the manuscript and thoughtful suggestions made the book much better. Raina Polivka, the music, film, and humanities editor at Indiana University Press, and her assistant, Jenna Whittaker, are a dedicated editorial team, and their organization and attention to detail kept the project running smoothly. Nancy Lightfoot and Eric Schramm inspected the manuscript carefully at the copyediting stage. Emily Ferrigno and Suzanne Eggleston Lovejoy at the Yale University Library were patient guides as I navigated the Charles Ives Papers. James Sinclair generously provided me access to David G. Porter’s unpublished notes on his reconstruction of Ives’sEmerson Concerto. Isabel Meirelles designed the book’s cover; she was a pleasure to work with and a marvel to watch in action. Marilyn Bliss kindly agreed to compose the index. My interest in the topic of the book can be traced to two formative musical experiences: an undergraduate seminar on “Time in Contemporary Music” with Justin London at Carleton College and my performances of Ives’s songs with Helen Pridmore and El Ron Maltan. Thanks to all three for sending me in this direction. Many of my colleagues in the Music Department at Northeastern have encouraged me with their interest in my project, particularly Anthony DeRitis, Douglas Durant, Hubert Ho, Hilary Poriss, Ron Smith, and Judith Tick. Gayle Sherwood Magee read the entire manuscript and provided extremely useful insights. Many others have read and offered valuable feedback on parts of the book, including David Clampitt, Michael Friedmann, David Goodrich, Sumanth Gopinath, James Hepokoski, Michael Klein, Lawrence Kramer, Robert P. Morgan, and David Nicholls. Others have assisted me in various ways, including Matt BaileyShea, Neely Bruce, David Greetham, Debra Mandel, Margaret McDonald, Arthur Rishi, and David Rothenberg. I am especially grateful to my family. First and most important, Jessica Berson provided practical, emotional, and intellectual support on a daily basis, and took me out for a great dinner when I finished the manuscript. Most aspects of the book were shaped by our discussions and brain-storming sessions, and her highly communicative prose has been a great influence on my own. Thank you, Jess. Leo and Henry McDonald gave constant incentive to work efficiently. Finally, Mary Ann and Jim McDonald offered unwavering interest and encouragement, and exceeded any reasonable expectations in their willingness to read what I’d written. They also got me interested in music in the first place. This book is dedicated to them.
I would like to thank the following publishers and the Yale Music Library for their permission to reprint portions of the following:
Four Transcriptions from “Emerson” By Charles Ives Copyright © 2002 by Associated Music Publishers, Inc. (BMI) Based upon material from Ives’s “Concord Sonata,” © 1947 by Associated