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Classical Composers A-Z: Charles Ives

Peter Wintersgill presents a potted biography of the American composer Charles Ives.

20th October, 1874, in Danbury, Connecticut

George, band master


Lessons from father at home, later at Yale

Adult Life
Went into insurance, kept music as a hobby.

He inherited from his father a fascination with two tunes played simultaneously in different keys, also with tone clusters and quarter tones. Called it stretching his ears.

He was a good violinist and organist, held several organists’ posts in New York. He wrote two piano sonatas, the second being the Concord Sonata (1919). It was studied for ten years by pianist John Kirkpatrick before playing it.

His busy period was 1910 – 1918, when he wrote his 4th Symphony (1916), General Booth Enters Heaven (1914) and Three Places in New England (1914).

He died on the 19th of May, 1954, in New York, aged 79, of coronary thrombosis.


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