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American Music Composers - Essay Example

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American Music Composers

These learnings were then inculcated in the styles and forms apt to American culture and tradition to be able to compose "American classical music" (Sherrane 2007).
This may be so, but the song and music heritage of the United States credits many American composers who have contributed to the musical history of the country. Among these composers is Charles Ives (1874-1954), hailed as the greatest American Composer by Time Magazine and Leonard Bernstein (Gutmann 2002).
The History of American Classical Music is very rich and deep in its context. There are many contributors to American Classical music and they have indeed shaped what American music is today. These composers and musicians have worked hand in hand to establish music that has shaped how music is composed, played, performed, and listened to. The great American composers have sought to define music and contradict the form and style to be able to create new music that is apt for American culture and tradition.
Born and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Charles Edward Ives was a democrat who was described as fierce, optimistic, and idealistic in his ways of creating music that unified the voice of the American people with music derived from European classical music form and style (Swafford 1998). What emerged from the genius of Charles Ives was music that surpassed the expectations of man and his imagination. His music was in every essence bursting of American culture yet unique in its every note, tempo, and form.
The primary influence and driving force of Charles Ives in his musical pursuit was his father, George, who was then leader of the Danbury Village Band. At five years old, he was found by his father drumming his fists on the piano and was hence given drum lessons (Swafford 1998). It was also his father from whom he received his first lessons in piano and other instruments. Until the maturation of his musical career, Charles Ives was infamous for "requiring a board to play the Concord Sonata" (Swafford 1998). This lead to what is now called the "tone clusters" (Swafford 1998). His interest in bi-tonal forms, polyrhythms and quotations was as well instilled by his father (G. Schirmer Inc. 2006).
As his father loved exploring acoustics, dissonance, happenstance, and counterpoint, Ives was raised with an inquiring and transcendental approach to music (Gutmann 2002). As George Ives would always then say to him: "Don't pay too much attention to the sounds--for if you do, you may miss the music. You won't get a wild, heroic ride to heaven on pretty little sounds", Charles Ives sought to capture the emotion, the story, and the spirituality of life using music (Swafford 1998). Ives was thus driven to search for that heroic ride to heaven. What resulted from this was his creation of music so radical and original in its technique and style that it was surprisingly complex and very tricky to perform.
In 1893, Ives left Danbury to study in Yale, New Haven. There, he underwent training under the supervision of Horation Parker, who was then famous for his high-Victorian oratorio Hora Novissima (Swafford 1998). It was in Yale that Ives created his First Symphony and First String Quartet, that he later subtitled "From the Salvation Army" in an attempt at a joke (Swafford 1998). It was during these four years in Yale that he got a better grasp of large scale forms, and his works then revealed a developing maturity ...Show more


Music is a form of art in which sound is the medium. It is the voice of a nation that expresses the people's hopes, passions, and dreams. It is an art deeply rooted in history and culture. Music may also be defined and influenced by an individual's thoughts, education, familial background, community, and personal experiences.
Author : shammes
American Music Composers essay example
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