Mad Music: Charles Ives, the Nostalgic Rebel

Mad Music: Charles Ives, the Nostalgic Rebel

by Stephen Budiansky

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Mad Music is the story of Charles Edward Ives (1874–1954), the innovative American composer who achieved international recognition, but only after he’d stopped making music. While many of his best works received little attention in his lifetime, Ives is now appreciated as perhaps the most important American composer of the twentieth century and father of the diverse lines of Aaron Copland and John Cage. Ives was also a famously wealthy crank who made millions in the insurance business and tried hard to establish a reputation as a crusty New Englander. To Stephen Budiansky, Ives’s life story is a personification of America emerging as a world power: confident and successful, yet unsure of the role of art and culture in a modernizing nation. Though Ives steadfastly remained an outsider in many ways, his life and times inform us of subjects beyond music, including the mystic movement, progressive anticapitalism, and the initial hesitancy of turn-of-the-century-America modernist intellectuals. Deeply researched and elegantly written, this accessible biography tells a uniquely American story of a hidden genius, disparaged as a dilettante, who would shape the history of music in a profound way. Making use of newly published letters—and previously undiscovered archival sources bearing on the longstanding mystery of Ives’s health and creative decline—this absorbing volume provides a definitive look at the life and times of a true American original.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611685145
Publisher: University Press of New England
Publication date: 04/01/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 306
File size: 10 MB

About the Author

STEPHEN BUDIANSKY is the author of numerous books of history, biography, and popular science including Blackett’s War (2013) and Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II (2000). His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, American Heritage, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship to research the life of Charles Ives.

Table of Contents

Dissonance Is Like a Man • Down East Yankee Town • Scenes from My Childhood • Here’s to Good Old Yale • Damn Rot and Worse • Missionary Enterprise • A Place in the Soul • Hard Work • A Man’s Death Is More or Less a Personal Matter • Rigging Up a Concert •

What People are Saying About This

James Sinclair

“This is a brilliantly written biography of Charles Ives. The author’s extraordinary research has yielded fresh and very important insights into the battle between the composer’s health and musical creations. Ives has never before seemed so human, so real. This is a magnificent biography of Ives, one to join and amplify the fine biographies done in the late 20th century. It’s absorbing reading for the general public and has significant new information for music scholars.”

Tom C. Owens

“Compelling and incisive, Mad Music answers questions that have bedeviled Ives scholars for years. Ives jumps off the page full-blooded in all of his complexity, contradiction, and genius.”

Customer Reviews