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Charles Ives:
American Hymns in Classical Music

Charles Ives loved to put hymns into his music. Several other composers borrowed hymn tunes; here are several examples from 20th Century American compositions.

Music heard in this episode:
Ives: Symphony No. 4
Ives: Violin Sonata No. 1
Joseph P. Webster: In the Sweet Bye and Bye
Ives: Second Orchestral Set
Schuman: New England Triptych
Billings: Chester
Traditional: How Firm a Foundation
Thomson: Symphony on a Hymn Tune
Elder Joseph Brackett: Simple Gifts
Copland: Appalachian Spring

Other shows about Charles Ives:
About Charles Ives
Marching Through the Country Band March
Folk Tunes in Classical Music

Download this month's activity sheet

About Charles Ives
10/20/1874 - 5/19/1954
Born in America

Charles Ives was born in Danbury, Connecticut just nine years after the end of the Civil War. All the members of the Ives family were successful business people, except for Charlie's father George. George Ives was a band director and music teacher who loved to experiment with sound. Those experiments had a big influence on the music that Charlie wrote when he grew up.

As a kid, Charlie was already an excellent musician. He got his first paying job as an organist when he was only 14. But that doesn't mean he didn't do regular kid stuff, too. Charlie loved sports, especially baseball and football.

Charles Ives did not become a professional composer. Instead, he was a highly successful businessman in the early days of life insurance. But Ives spent all his evenings and weekends doing what he really loved, namely composing. Ives never tried to please anyone else with his music -- he did exactly what he liked. As a result, and because of his father's influence, Ives wrote music that was totally different from anyone else's. In fact, his music was way ahead of its time.

See other composers born in America


This Week's Quiz:

1. Which composer used singers in a symphony?






2.Name one of Ives' favorite hymn tunes.

In the Sweet Bye and Bye

Watchman, Tell Us of the Night

Ode to Joy

How Firm a Foundation

Amazing Grace

3. Aaron Copland borrowed Simple Gifts from what religious group?







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