MUSIC'S CONNECTICUT YANKEE: An Introduction to the Life and Music of Charles Ives by Helen R. Sive

MUSIC'S CONNECTICUT YANKEE: An Introduction to the Life and Music of Charles Ives

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In calling this slight book ""an introduction,"" the author recognizes, in effect, that it suffices neither as a biography of Ives the implacable pioneer nor as an examination of his music. Sive's one advantage--and the book's chief asset--is that ""Charlie"" was his father's son: the talented, responsive offspring of a bandmaster who marched to his own novel tempos, putting his students through ""earstretching"" exercises, alerting them to sound ""accidents,"" exploring the use of tricky quarter tones. But even before the ""well-rounded,"" ""well-liked"" Ives goes off to Yale (and his father--with little ado--dies), the narrative flattens into a conventionality that ill suits its subject. Sire writes in categories (experimental/ original/progressive vs. traditional music) and stock superlatives, speaks awkwardly of ""romantic interests"" and ploddingly of Ives' lifelong attachment to Transcendentalism. As retold, the life--manifest success in the insurance business, apparent failure at music--holds virtually no dramatic interest. At the same time, important compositions are discussed in some detail; but to appreciate the discussion--even to properly apprehend it--one must know the music. The rare young person conversant with Ives' work is ready for something more sophisticated and demanding than this.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1977
Publisher: Atheneum