Charles Edward Ives Papers
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Biographical / Historical Note

A businessman by day and a composer by night, Charles Ives pursued what is perhaps one of the most extraordinary and paradoxical careers in American music history. Inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, Ives sought a highly personalized musical expression through the most innovative and radical technical means possible. A fascination with bi-tonal forms, polyrhythms, and quotation was nurtured by his father who Ives would later acknowledge as the primary creative influence on his musical style. Ironically, much of Ives's work would not be heard until his virtual retirement from music and business in 1930 due to severe health problems. In 1947, Ives was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Symphony No. 3, according him a much deserved modicum of international renown. Soon after, his works were taken up and championed by such leading conductors as Leonard Bernstein and, by the time of his death in 1954, he had witnessed a rise from obscurity to a position of unsurpassed eminence among the world's leading performers and musical institutions.