Charles Ives

American composer (Danbury, 1874 - New York, 1954)

Charles Ives was a critical composer of American modernity in music. Considered as an unconventional figure, he quilted composing professionally to start an insurance company while keeping on composing without performing publicly or release any recording.

Charles Ives was born in Connecticut to a musician father (head of artillery music in the Northern Army during the Civil War) who gave him a first approach to music, and introduced him to bitonal harmonies. He became an organist at the age of 14 and wrote several compositions for his parish, including Variations on "America".

Integrating Yale University in 1894, he followed Horatio Parker’s classes, which would inspire his work as a composer, particularly in the choral style. In 1898, he graduated and composed his first Symphony. He then joined an insurance company in New York, while continuing playing the organ. Upon starting his own insurance company Ives & co in 1907, he suffered a first heart attack. From then on, he would only compose during his spare time.

His very modern approach to music tackled polytonality and polyrhythm structures and made him "the precursor of many techniques of the twentieth century" (Renaud Machart).

Five landmark dates in the life of Charles Ives

1874: Birth in Danbury (Connecticut)
1894: Entered Yale and follows Horatio Parker’s lessons
1898: Arrived in New York to work for an insurance company
1907: Founded his own insurance company
1954: Death in New York

Five key works by Charles Ives:

1891: Variations on America
1897-1901: Symphony No. 2
1898-1907: Central Park in the Dark
1901-1904: Symphony No. 3
1910-1916: Symphony No. 4