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Charles Ives

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Charles Ives


Charles Ives (20 October 1874, Danbury, Conn. - 19 May 1954, New York City) was an American composer.

Widely considered an innovator, Ives was the son of U.S. Army Bandleader George Ives. At a young age, Ives studied organ and went on to Yale to study composition with Horatio Parker. Believing that he could not earn a living writing the music that he wanted to write, he formed a successful insurance business and composed in the evenings. Much of his music was ignored during his own lifetime, and many of his compositions were not published until decades after he had written them.

His compositional style was largely experimental, but also incorporated American folk tunes and hymn songs to paint a unique tonal portrait. In 1947 he received a Pultzer Prize for his Third Symphony (1911), after its debut only a year earlier in 1946. He died in New York City in 1954, leaving a legacy that predated most of the twentieth century innovations such as atonality, aleatoricism, polytonality, microtones, multiple cross-rhythms, and tone clusters.

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