A Charles Ives Thanksgiving

NewEngland Fall

In the early decades of the twentieth century, American composer Charles Ives was stretching musical boundaries. Ives created exciting collages of sound by layering fragments of folk songs, hymn tunes and other music, often simultaneously in different keys and tempos.  The result was a musical melting pot that was uniquely American and anticipated compositional techniques used later by The Beatles, John Cage and others.

Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day from Ives’s Holidays Symphony musically evokes memories of Thanksgivings past.  As you listen, consider the atmosphere Ives creates with sound.  Throughout the piece you’ll hear fragments of two Thanksgiving hymn tunes, The Shining  Shore and Duke Street. Is there anything else that gives the music a distinctly American sound?  Listen to the way Ives pulls out all the stops at the end, creating a climax of glorious cacophony and then notice the surprising way the piece ends.  What mood do you feel?

For more on Charles Ives and the Holidays Symphony watch this excellent episode of Keeping Score with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.

A Symphony: New England Holidays, IV. Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day…Charles Ives (1874-1954)

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