Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Take Your Ives to Work Day

Quick, what do T.S. Eliot, Franz Kafka and Charles Ives have in common? All three spent a good deal of their careers not in a career in the arts but in button down business roles. Eliot worked for Lloyd's of London. Kafka worked for Assicurazioni Generali, and Ives worked for an American insurance agency. In fact, he is credited for being a pioneer in estate planning as much as he was in music.

Maybe that's why I've been playing a lot of Ives during my work week lately. Ives is so wonderfully unpredictable and downright weird. Chaotic one moment, then pastoral the next and then sounding like backtracking marching bands crashing into each other. Ives' Psalms can be very good for focusing. If you're really focusing, you don't even realize they are in English and they start sounding like a Buddhist chant.

Some of his individual American songs are the most gloriously goofy. Aaron Copland composed his share of wacky tunes, but Ives go even further. Who was Charlie Rutlage? I have no idea, but under Ives' hand, it feels like he might be a character out of Kafka's Amerika.

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9 Comments:

At 6:26 AM, Blogger willow said...

My daughter, who is an opera singer, often includes delightful Ives in her recital rep, such as A Night Song, Evening, Disclosure, and The World's Highway. Great post.

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Willow - How lucky to have such a talented daughter who has such great taste!

 
At 3:23 PM, Blogger The Blue Elephant said...

Fischer-Dieskau did a wonderful record of Ives songs. And MTT is a great conductor of Ives symphonies.

 
At 3:39 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Jim - I've been listening to MTT and the SF Symphony and Chorus album "An American Journey" with a wide selection of Ives tunes and symphonies. I'm also listening to the Complete Pslams recorded by the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart which probably is why it's a little hard to realize the psalms are in English.

 
At 6:22 PM, Blogger Bachelor said...

Another great song for Bryn Terfel of Wales. I have a collection of his music. What a voice and also with Willow's daughter! My, indeed!
Thanks for sharing! :) The Bach

 
At 9:37 PM, Blogger VE said...

Estate planning doesn't seem very musical...

 
At 9:56 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

VE - When you are the beneficiary, it's reason to sing and dance.

 
At 3:17 AM, Blogger Brian Miller said...

nice...

 
At 5:25 AM, Blogger California Girl said...

My first visit to your blog. How did youfind the information that ties these three together? What an interesting post.

 

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