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Essays Before a Sonata and Other Writings
Essays Before a Sonata and Other Writings Author:Charles Ives, Howard Boatwright (Editor) The Essays Before a Sonata were written, according to Ives, as a preface or reason for the writer's second pianoforte sonata, "Concord, Mass., 1845." Four essays - on Emerson, Hawthorne, the Alcotts, and Thoreau - are related to the four movements of the sonata, now acknowledged to be one of the masterpieces of American music. Moreover, in a pro... more »logue and an epilogue, as well as in the main essays, Ives touches upon many subjects other than his sonata. He discusses the nature of music ("My God, what has sound got to do with music?!"), the source of the composer's impulses, inspiration and its relation to music, and other topics. There are also pungent comments on celebrated masters.
Included in the volume as "other writings" are an essay on quarter-tone music (which Ives called a family prejudice, since his father had a weakness for quarter-tones), and the astonishing Postface to his "114 Songs," published at his own expense in 1922, which may or may not be an apologia for the writing of the songs.
However one interprets Ives' prose, his extraordinary vitality and originality shine forth as brightly here as in his music. Unusual in their penetrating relevance to the American scene, these writings reveal a mind that could express ideas about music with singular force, a mind whose highly experimental bent will continue to inspire American musicians long after Ives' music has ceased to shock them.« less