1 Taushakar

Charles Ives 114 Songs Analysis Essay

The Light That is Felt: Songs of Charles Ives

“Take my hand,” said she;
“And then the dark will all be light”
 
Charles Edward Ives composed nearly 200 songs throughout his life. In 1922 he prepared his largest single
bound collection, 114 Songs, for a private printing by G. Schirmer publishers. 
 
Wiley Hitchcock, in the thorough introduction to his 2004 critical edition 129 Songs, described the Ives
song canon as “the contents of a kind of scrapbook or commonplace book or chapbook, or even a desk
drawer. Into such a receptacle Ives tossed irregularly, if not casually, his reactions —in the form of songs—to
memories, personalities, places, events, discoveries, ideas, visions, and fantasies in his life.”1
 
Whether popular tale or personal reflection, this concept of the songs as memorabilia is realized in a most
powerful way: the songs emotionally and viscerally evoke memory. Captured memories —real or idealized,
distant or near—are the materials for the music.
 
From cosmopolitan incident (Ann Street) to pastoral stroll (The Housatonic at Stockbridge) Ives’s songs
describe a range of experience: a child’s playtime, a commuter’s observations, a courter’s hope. His songs
exhibit reverence for the populace and pop culture, daring adventure  and family devotion; life and death. 
 
Ives brings the listeners into the heart of his songs’ stories through remarkable craft. The works initially
draw one in through idiosyncratic surface details. As time, place, and setting of the stories are initiated,
Ives’s stunning inspirations begin to manifest. He masterfully develops his material, and, as the songs
unfold, the music burrows to an emotional core. 
 
                                                                       ***
Ives’s metaphor for his songs was laundry: “I have not written a book at all . . . I have merely cleaned house.
All that is left is out on the clothes line; but it’s good for a man’s vanity to have the neighbors see him—on
the clothes line.” 2
 

Ives’s cheeky comment is revealing. He describes the songs as chronicling his existence,
and bares his essence in the process.
 
These lyrical “fabrics” attract the listener with their unique varieties of style, complexity, and musical
portraiture. Whether the surface texture is a dense thicket or sparsely flowing tapestry, the sonic
environment is what initially grabs the listener. In some cases, the arresting music could be a trance-like
pattern, as in the spinning-wheel figurations of Two Little Flowers or The Children’s Hour. In other
instances what might intrigue the ear is the augmentation of a popular song snippet, as the opening phrase
of The Things Our Fathers Loved that turns out to be a slow version of “Dixie Land.” Other striking details
might be more pointillistic, perhaps as brief as the flame-sparking triads of December or the bass drum
thumps that propel the march General William Booth Enters into Heaven. Whether they be snatches of
popular tunes, or the swirls, echoes, and whacks that make up our daily sonic environs, these musical
moments evoke familiar sounds. They are access points into the songs.
 
One could describe Ives’s elevation of sonic detail in practically any measure of these works: the shifting
chorded clangor of an abbreviated day on a Wall Street sidewalk in Ann Street; the carefully regulated
layers of slow-to-fast ripples of notes in The Housatonic at Stockbridge; the slightly off-the-main-beat stretch
of slowly cascading arpeggios in The Light That Is Felt.
                                               
1
 Hitchcock, Wiley, Preface to Charles Ives 129 Songs, Music of the United States Volume 12, A–R
Editions Middleton, Wisconsin, 2004, p. lxviii.
2
 Ives, Charles E., postface to 114 Songs.
 
Whatever captivating detail draws the listener into the music, one can listen for how it develops. The
musical images we hear on the surface are also the motives that expertly wind their way through the song,
binding the music together as compositional threads. A scion of magnates in the hat-making industry, Ives
carried out the metaphoric appliqué: “The fabric of existence weaves itself whole . . . It comes directly out
of the heart of experience of life and thinking about life and living life.” 3
 
 
What marks the ingenuity of Ives’s songs, then, is not the evocativeness of a singular idée fixe. Rather, it is
the matrix of details that draw us temporally into the settings, and engenders our own emotional response to
the text. Stuart Feder writes, “Ives has created a palimpsest, on which layers are superimposed on other
layers which are never completely erased. Thus the past enriches and informs the present.” 4
 
 
Ives masterfully evokes memory through this skillful handling of musical layering. He draws us toward the
impressions that form our senses when life rushes toward us, overwhelms us, and shakes us from our
waking sleep. Ives illustrates that in the midst of these impressions, vivid and fleeting, we become aware of
something else: things that call to the best of what we are capable of as human beings; things that we
recognize to be completely true. These moments of capturing and sharing memory are the substance of
Ives’s songs, the part that “comes from somewhere near the soul.” 5
 
 
Or, as Ives put it in The Things Our Fathers Loved: “I think there must be a place in the soul all made of
tunes. . . .”
***
Take a song like Down East. Ives wrote the text to this song—not a very distinguished text at first glance. The
beginning of the piece proceeds with a haze of sound in chromatic motion. Feder describes the effect as
“open[ing] with that impressionistic, spell-weaving musical texture that whispers, ‘Now we are going back.’” 6
 

The music surrounds the words, proceeding at a very slow pace. (“Songs . . . Songs! Visions of my
homeland, come with strains of childhood; Come with tunes we sang in schooldays, And with songs from
Mother’s heart.”)
 
Ives’s setting mimics the physical sensation of trying to “remember” a memory: One becomes quiet; the
pace of thought slows; the eyes fix on a distant point, without seeing. And then, suddenly, the inner vision
becomes clear. We arrive at the second part of the song: 
 
 Way down east in a village by the sea,
 Stands the old red farmhouse that watches o’er the lea;
 All that is best in me, lying deep in memory,
 Draws my heart where I would be, nearer to thee.
 
 Ev’ry Sunday morning, when the chores were almost done,
 From that little parlor sounds the old melodeon,
 “Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee”;
 With those strains a stronger hope comes, nearer to me. 
                                               
3
 Letter to Henry Bellaman 1933, reprinted by Burkholder, J. Peter, ed. Charles Ives and His World,
Princeton University Press, 1996, and here cited in Hitchcock, p. xxx. 
4
 Feder, Stuart. Charles Ives: “My Father’s Song:” A Psycho-analytic Biography, New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1992, p. 314.
5
 Ives, Charles E. Essays Before a Sonata, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 1961, p. 77.
6
 Feder, p. 314.
 
 
These are plain-spoken words, full of imagery that could characterize any number of popular songs and
religious hymns at the turn of the twentieth century. The second part of the song is set with an easily
recognizable melodic line and a repeating rhythmic pattern, more elements that could add up to a
“sentimental” song. 
 
But they don’t. The melody and accompaniment, though primarily formed of symmetrical patterns, have
enough asymmetry within them to keep the ear of the listener “awake.” This is the heart of the song. When
we are “remembering” a memory we are not lulled into a state of near- slumber. On the contrary, we are the
most awake, and the emotions we experience are sharp. There is nothing extra, either in the melody or
accompaniment. The conscious withholding of superfluous ornamentation keeps the impact acute. Ives
courageously allows his song’s essence to be left unadorned. “All that is left is out on the clothes line.”
 
This “lack of anything extra” and the subtle asymmetries that tug on the ear are endemic to all the
“sentimental” songs we have recorded on this CD (Two Little Flowers, Songs my mother taught me, The
Light That Is Felt are three examples.) Note how, in each of these “simpler” settings, the subtle shifting of
musical layers in the piano against the voice set us up for an altered state of awareness.
 
One can imagine what The Light That Is Felt would sound like if the asymmetries were taken out. Would it
so perfectly express that very tiny human moment that we experience over and over in life, when fear gives
way to faith? Had Ives not compressed the emotional drama through interaction between accompaniment
and text, we would be left with a simple homily. Instead, piano chords and melodic curves are carefully
balanced away from downbeats; delicate staccato figures are placed in the right hand of the piano to
slenderly paint “paused on the dark stair timidly” and “only when our hands we lay in Thine;” the moment
of weighted broken chords is staved off until the third measure before the end for “and there is darkness
nevermore,” and then quickly backs off from over-pontificating by fragilely returning to an elevated
descending arpeggio in the last measure. 
 
We hear these subtle shifts of focus time and again in Ives’s songs of greater complexity. There is one
moment, one universal experience—not always great or grand—telescoped perfectly in sound. In Tom Sails
Away, the impetus for the descriptive scene of childhood, recalled slowly then set in motion, glowing, vivid,
full of sights and sounds and noise, is a singular moment of saying goodbye to a beloved brother whose
return is uncertain. 
 
Those moments of parting are felt so strongly, so keenly, that one can do nothing but let the mind run over
a series of memories and impressions of the times leading up to and away from that moment. The heart
cannot really hold the experience of the precise moment of parting; it is too much for us to bear. 
 
In musical terms, Ives starts with a wisp of melody that is repeated hypnotically in the piano and voice
(“Scenes from my childhood are with me.”) The scene unfolds gently. As the sonic remembrances unleash,
the commotion heightens. The town springs to life. A musical climax parlays the excited tumult of children
greeting their father at the end of a work day. (“Daddy is coming up the hill from the mill, we run down the
lane to meet him.”) The piano accompaniment is crashing, tumbling, and exuberant. Then the sound
scatters, and the present scene comes into focus:
 
“But today, today Tom sailed away for over there.”
 
 
 
 
 
The music takes on massive weight, the piano tells us about this journey (and its cultural context) by
overlaying “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” in the midst of the counterpoint. As the energy again
dissipates the singer repeats words from the popular George M. Cohan patriotic song of the time (“Over
there! Over there! For the Yanks are coming”), with a telling semitone dissonance between the voice and
piano on the final repeat. The music dissolves further, and we are left with the “scenes from . . . childhood .
. . floating before [our] eyes.” What we ultimately see facing us —the departure of a loved one—swims in our
vision. 
 
Ives’s ability to paint such a scene while attending to individual details (including writing his own lyrics for
Tom Sails Away) speaks to the precision and care of the songs. It is how Ives can reconcile and magnify the
minute point of intimacy that peers out of the first verse of The Light That Is Felt and seemlessly transform
it into religious ecstasy in the next, without losing the singularity of the central scene. 
 
 
A tender child of summers three,
  At night, while seeking her little bed,
Paused on the dark stair timidly.
“Oh, mother! Take my hand,” said she;
  “And then the dark will all be light.”
 
We older children grope our way
  From dark behind to dark before;
And only when our hands we lay
In Thine, O God! The night is day;
Then the night is day,
  And there is darkness nevermore.
 
—John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)
 
 
Whittier’s poem of transferred enlightenment speaks to Ives’s sense of the personal as universal: “. . . if
local color, national color, any color, is a true pigment of the universal color, it is a divine quality. . . ”
7
 Ives
believed his songs were for everyone, “that in every human outburst there is the ray of celestial beauty.”
8
 As
he made sure to impress upon Aaron Copland, in response to Copland’s prescient 1934 article in Modern
Music about the songs, “I was paying my respects to the average man (there is one) in the ‘ordinary business
of life,’ from the Ashman down to the president. . . .”
9
 
 
 
***
 
 
                                               
7
 Essays Before A Sonata, p. 81.
8
 Essays Before A Sonata, p. 97.
9
 Letter to Aaron Copland May 28, 1934, Owens, Tom C. Selected Correspondence of Charles Ives,
University of California Press, 2007, p. 222.
 
During the preparation of his 114 Songs for publication, Ives set off on four international trips with his wife,
Harmony. His sense of global reach, of “the universal lyre,”
10
 was becoming more indelible. The
international travel resonated with the Iveses, particularly since they shared a love for European literature
and poetry. Their descriptions from abroad, like this one from Interlaken, are picturesque: “The mountains
are being eaten alive by flames in the form of autumnal trees, & the vivid color combined with the dazzling
snow peaks, is enough to drive an artist into eating his paint brushes with despair.”
11
 One could not describe
the songs more searingly.
 
The letters from abroad are also infused with remarks on European art, culture, and language. Likewise,
foreign texts pepper the bookends of his entire song output. Ives’s early re-castings of German lieder
(Feldeinsamkeit, Minnelied, Du bist wie eine Blume) were the product of his training with Horatio Parker
at Yale University in the late nineteenth century. Those songs are reflective of the German masters, in
particular the then contemporary composer Johannes Brahms. (Ives reported with pleasure the visit of the
American composer George Whitefield Chadwick to Parker’s class in the spring of 1898 and Chadwick’s
telling the professor, “In its way [“Feldeinsamkeit” is] almost as good as Brahms. . . [and] as good a song as
you could write.”
12
 
 
At the other end of the musical and chronological spectrum are his settings of the fourteenth-century Italian
poet Folgore da San Gimignano (1920).
13
 They are far more radical in literary and musical technique, the
polytonal triadic flights giving voice to the kind of WWI fury that marked the era (and coincided with Ives’s
declining health.)
 
It is fitting that Ives offered his American hand to foreign texts at the onset and near the end of his
compositional period. The evolution of his musical technique from student exercise to late work
notwithstanding, the special place occupied by these songs casts a light on the entirety of his canon. The
European texts offered Ives historical precedence. His handling of foreign-language lyrics, some set by
composers past, helped him to balance his approach to his own cast of American characters, ranging from
the plebeian to the puritanical. For every December “cunning cook,” West London “tramp,” and
Minnelied “beloved” was a General William Booth “sinner,” Watchman “trav’ler,” Romanzo di Central
Park “lover,” or a “tender child of summers three.” 
 
Ives guided each of these personalities into the light of his modern settings. He shepherded their stories into
contemporary America. Ives’s musical and humanitarian aesthetic was wholly entwined:  “. . . if he (this
poet, composer, and laborer) is open to . . . all lessons of the infinite that humanity has received and thrown
to man . . . then  it may be that the value of his substance . . . is . . . nearer and nearer to perfect truths. . . .”
14
 
 
With this transcendent reach, Ives, one foot anchored in the nineteenth century, navigated the increasingly
diverse populace of America and sailed ahead into the twentieth. He personified modern art moored in the
vernacular. In strokes of genius, Ives chartered a cargo of memories in the form of songs, one that
continues to entreat us to embrace our commonality. 
                                  —Donald Berman and Susan Narucki
                                               
10
 Letter to Nicolas Slonimsky October 12, 1930, Owens, p. 190.
11
 Letter to Slonimsky, December 1932, Owens, p. 197.
12
 Hitchcock, xxxvii.
13
 Although some songs are dated later because of when they were completed, these songs are among the
final ones Ives began and finished at the late date.
14
 Essays Before a Sonata, p. 92.
 
 
 
 
 
Songs my mother taught me
 
Songs my mother taught me in the days long vanished;
    seldom from her eyelids were the teardrops banished.
Now I teach my children each melodious measure;
   often tears are flowing from my mem’ry’s treasure.
Songs my mother taught me in days long vanished;
   seldom from her eyelids were the teardrops banished.
 
          Adolf Heyduk (1835–1923)
         translation by Natalie Macfarren  (1826–1916)
 
 
 
 
 
Tom Sails Away
 
Scenes from my childhood are with me:
 
I’m in the lot behind our house upon the hill;
   a spring day’s sun is setting;
   Mother with Tom in her arms is coming towards the garden;
   the lettuce rows are showing green.
Thinner grows the smoke o’er the town;
   stronger comes the breeze from the ridge;
   ’tis after six, the whistles have blown,
   the milk train’s gone down the valley.
Daddy is coming up the hill from the mill;
   we run down the lane to meet him.
But today! In freedom’s cause Tom sailed away for
   over there, over there, over there!
15
 
 
Scenes from my childhood are floating before my eyes.
 
  —[Charles Ives]
 
 
 
 
                                               
15
This sentence as in 114 Songs; revised in Nineteen Songs as: 
     But today! Today Tom sailed away for, for 
      Over there, over there, over there!
 
The Housatonic at Stockbridge
 
Contented river! In thy dreamy realm—
The cloudy willow and the plumy elm:
Thou beautiful! From every dreamy hill
What eye but wanders with thee at thy will.
 
Contented river! And yet over-shy 
To mask thy beauty from the eager eye;
Hast thou a thought to hide from field and town
In some deep current of the sunlit brown?
 
Ah! there’s a restive ripple, and the swift
Red leaves—September’s firstlings—faster drift;
Wouldst thou away, dear stream? Come, whisper near!
I also of much resting have a fear:
 
Let me to-morrow thy companion be
By fall and shallow to the adventurous sea!
 
        —Robert Underwood Johnson (1853–1937)
 
The Greatest Man
 
My teacher said us boys should write
About some great man, so I thought last night
   ’N thought about heroes and men
   That had done great things, ’n then
I got to thinkin’ ’bout my pa;
He ain’t a hero ’r anything—but, pshaw!
   Say! He can ride the wildest hoss
   ’N find minners near the moss
Down by the creek; ’n he can swim 
’N fish—we ketched five newlights, me ’n him!
 
Dad’s some hunter, too—oh, my—
Miss Molly Cottontail sure does fly
   When he tromps through the fields ’n brush!
   (Dad won’t kill a lark ’r thrush.)
Once when I was sick, ’n though his hands were rough
He rubbed the pain right out. “That’s the stuff!”
   He said when I winked back the tears. He never cried
   But once ’n that was when my mother died. . . . 
 
There’re lots o’ great men—George Washin’ton ’n Lee—
But Dad’s got ’em all beat holler, seems to me!
 
  —Anne Timoney Collins (fl. 1920s)
 
West London
 
Crouch’d on the pavement, close by Belgrave Square,
   A tramp I saw, ill, moody, and tongue-tied;
   A babe was in her arms, and at her side
A girl; their clothes were rags, their feet were bare.
Some labouring men, whose work lay somewhere there,
   Pass’d opposite; she touch’d her girl, who hied
   Across, and begg’d, and came back satisfied.
The rich she had let pass with a frozen stare.
Thought I: ‘Above her state this spirit towers;
   She will not ask of aliens, but of friends,
      Of sharers in a common human fate.
   She turns from that cold succour, which attends  
      The unknown little from the unknowing great,
And points us to a better time than ours.’
 
      —Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)
 
The “Incantation”
 
When the moon is on the wave,
   And the glow-worm in the grass,
And the meteor on the grave,
   And the wisp on the morass;
When the falling stars are shooting,
And the answer’d owls are hooting,
   And the silent leaves are still
   In the shadow of the hill,
Shall my soul be upon thine,
With a power and with a sign.
 
  —George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788–1824)
 
Du bist wie eine Blume / You are like a Flower
 
Du bist wie eine Blume  
So hold und schön und rein:   
Ich schau, dich an, und Wehmut  
Schleicht mir ins Herz, 
Schleicht mir ins Herz hinein.   
Mir ist, als ob ich die Hände  
Aufs Haupt dir legen sollt,   
Betend, Gott dich erhalte   
So rein und schön,    
So rein und schön und hold.
 
  —Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

translation:

You are like a flower,
So lovely, sweet and pure;

I look at you, 

And melancholy fills my heart.

I should like to lay my hands 

Gently atop your head.

And pray to God to keep you 

So lovely, sweet and pure.

 Down East
 
Songs! Visions of my homeland
   come with strains of childhood;
Come with tunes we sang in school days
   And with songs from Mother’s heart:
 
Way down east in a village by the sea,
Stands the old red farmhouse that watches o’er the lea;
All that is best in me, lying deep in memory,
Draws my heart where I would be: nearer to thee.
 
Ev’ry Sunday morning, when the chores are almost done,
From that little parlor sounds the old melodeon,
“Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee”;
With those strains a stronger hope comes nearer to me.
                                                                        —[Charles Ives]
 
The Children’s Hour
 
Between the dark and the daylight,
   When the night is beginning to lower,
     Comes a pause in the day’s occupations
   That is known as Children’s Hour.
 
I hear in the chamber above me
   The patter of little feet,
     The sound of a door that is opened,
   And voices soft and sweet.
 
From my study I see in the lamplight,
   Descending the broad hall stair,
     Grave Alice and laughing Allegra,
   And Edith with golden hair.
 
Between the dark and daylight,
     Comes a pause that is known as Children’s Hour.
                                                        —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
 
Where the eagle cannot see
 
Where the eagle cannot see,
Where cold winds can never be,
   Where the sun’s bright course doth glow
   Very, very far below,
There, in everlasting rest,
Dwell those saints whom Death hath blest;
There, in everlasting rest.
                                                        —Monica Peveril Turnbull (1879–1901)
 
 
 
 
General William Booth Enters into Heaven
 
 
Booth led boldly with his big bass drum—
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) [Hallelujah!] 
Saints smiled gravely and they said: “He’s come.”
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
Walking lepers followed, rank on rank,
Lurching bravoes from the ditches dank,
Drabs from the alleyways and drug fiends pale—
Minds still passion-ridden, soul powers frail:—
Vermin-eaten saints with moldy breath,
Unwashed legions with the ways of death
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
 
Every slum had sent its half a score
The round world over. (Booth had groaned for more.)
Every banner that the wide world flies 
Bloomed with glory and transcendent dyes.
Big-voiced lasses made their banjos bang;
Tranced, fanatical they shrieked and sang:—
“Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?” [Hallelujah!]
Hallelujah! Hallelujah, [Lord] Hallelujah, Lord, Hallelujah!
It was queer to see
Bull-necked convicts with that land make free
Loons with trumpets blowed a blare
On, on upward thro’ the golden air!
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
 
Jesus came from the courthouse door,
Stretched his hands above the passing poor.
Booth saw not, but led his queer ones
Round and round ]the mighty courthouse square].
Yet! in an instant all that blear review
Marched on spotless, clad in raiment new. 
The lame were straightened, withered limbs uncurled,
And blind eyes opened on a new, sweet world.
 
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
                                                    
                                         —Vachel Lindsay (1879–1931)
 
 
 
 
 
The Things Our Fathers Loved (and the greatest of these was Liberty)
 
     I think there must be a place in the soul all made of tunes, of tunes of long ago: I
hear the organ on the Main Street corner; Aunt Sarah humming gospels; summer
evenings, the village cornet band, playing in the square.
     The town’s Red, White, and Blue, all Red, White, and Blue. Now! Hear the songs! I
know not what are the words, but they sing in my soul of the things our Fathers loved.
                                                                                  
                                    —[Charles Ives]
 
Two Little Flowers
 
On sunny days in our backyard,
   two little flowers are seen,
One dressed, at times, in brightest pink
   and one in green.
 
The marigold is radiant,
   the rose passing fair;
The violet is ever dear,
   the orchid ever dear,
There’s loveliness in wild flowers
   of field or wide savannah,
But fairest, rarest of them all
   are Edith and Susanna.
 
  —[Harmony Twichell Ives (1876–1969),
   probably with Charles Ives]
 
August
 
For August, be your dwelling thirty towers 
   Within an Alpine valley mountainous,
   Where never the sea-wind may vex your house,
But clear life sep’rate, like a star, be yours.
There horses shall wait saddled at all hours
   That ye may mount at morn or at eve:
   On each hand either ridge ye shall perceive,
A mile apart, which soon a good beast scours.
So always, drawing homewards, ye shall tread,
   Your valley parted by a rivulet
     Which day and night shall flow sedate and smooth.
There all through noon ye may possess the shade,
   And there your open purses shall entreat 
     The best of Tuscan cheer to feed your youth.
 
   —Folgore da San Gimignano (ca. 1275–before 1332),
   translation by Dante Gabriel Rossetti  (1828–1882)
 
 
September
 
And in September . . .
   Falcons, astors, merlins, sparrowhawks;
   Decoy-birds that lure your game in flocks;
And hounds with bells;
Crossbows shooting out of sight;
   Arblasts and javelins;
   All birds the best to fly;
And each to each of you shall be lavish still
   In gifts; and robbery find no gainsaying;
And if you meet with travelers going by,
Their purses from your purse’s flow shall fill;
   And avarice be the only outcast thing.
 
   —Folgore da San Gimignano (ca. 1275–before 1332),
   translation by Dante Gabriel Rossetti  (1828–1882)
 
December
 

Last, for December, houses on the plain,
   Ground-floors to live on, logs heaped mountain-high,
   Carpets stretched, and newest games to try,
Torches lit, and gifts from man to man:
(Your host, a drunkard and a Catalan);
   And whole dead pigs, and cunning cooks to ply
   Each throat with tit-bits that satisfy;
And wine-butts of Saint Galganus’ brave span.
And be your coats well lined and tightly bound,
   And wrap yourselves in cloaks of strength and weight,
    With gallant hoods to put your faces through.
And make your game of abject vagabond
   Abandoned miserable reprobate
    Misers; don’t let them have a chance with you.
 
   —Folgore da San Gimignano (ca. 1275–before 1332),
   translation by Dante Gabriel Rossetti  (1828–1882)
 
 
The Light That Is Felt
 
A tender child of summers three, 
   At night, while seeking her little bed,
Paused on the dark stair timidly.
“Oh, mother! Take my hand,” said she;
  “And then the dark will all be light.”
 
 
We older children grope our way
   From dark behind to dark before;
And only when our hands we lay
In Thine, O God! the night is day;
Then the night is day,
   And there is darkness nevermore.
 
  —John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)
 
Ann Street
 
[Broadway]
 
Quaint name—
Ann street.
Width of same, 
Ten feet.
 
Barnum’s mob
Ann street,
Far from obsolete.
 
Narrow, yes,
Ann street,
But business,
Both feet.
   [Nassau crosses Ann St.]
Sun just hits
Ann street,
Then it quits—
Some greet!
 
Rather short—
Ann street.
 
  —Maurice Morris
 
Evening
 
Now came still evening on, and twilight gray 
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Silence accompanied, for the beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests
Were slunk, but the wakeful nightingale;
She all night long her amorous descant sung;
Silence is pleased. . . .
 
  —John Milton (1608–1674)
 
 
 
The Sea of Sleep
 
 
Good night, my care and my sorrow,
I’m launching on the deep—
And till the dawning morrow
Shall sail the sea of sleep.
 
Good night, my care and my sorrow,
Good night and maybe goodby—
For I may wake on the morrow
Beneath another sky.
 
  —author unknown
 
 
Like a Sick Eagle
 
 
The spirit is too weak—mortality
   Weights heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
   And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking towards the sky.
 
  —John Keats (1795–1821)
 
 
Swimmers
 
 
Then, the swift plunge into the cool, green dark—
The windy waters rushing past me, through me,
Filled with the sense of some heroic lark,
Exulting in a vigor, clean and roomy.
Swiftly I rose to meet the feline sea,
Pitting against a cold turbulent strife
The feverish intensity of life. . . 
Out of the foam I lurched and rode the wave,
Swimming, hand over hand, against the wind;
I felt the sea’s vain pounding, and I grinned
Knowing I was its master, not its slave.
 
        —Louis Untermeyer  (1885–1977)
 
 
 
 
 
Watchman!
 

 
Watchman, tell us of the night,
What its signs of promise are.
   Trav’ler, o’er yon mountain’s height,
   See that glory-beaming star!
Watchman, aught of joy or hope?
   Trav’ler,
Yes!
   Trav’ler
Yes!
   Trav’ler, yes; it brings the day,
   Promised day of Israel.
   Dost thou see its beauteous ray?
   Trav’ler, see!
                        
                              —John Bowring (1792–1872)
 
 
 
Feldeinsamkeit / In Summer Fields
 
 
Ich ruhe still im hohen, grünen Gras   I lie still in the tall green grass
   Und sende lange meinen Blick nach     and turn my glance a long time
oben,       upward—
Von Grillen rings umschwirrt ohn’   Crickets chirping around me ceaselessly
Unterlass,    
   Vom Himmelsbläue wundersam       heaven’s blue wondrously woven,
umwoben.      about me.
 
 
Und schöne, weisse Wolken ziehn dahin  And beautiful white clouds drift here
        and there
   Durchs tiefe Blau, wie schöne stille      through the deep blue, like lovely
Träume;      silent dreams.
Mir ist, als ob ich längst gestorben bin,  To me, it’s as if I have long been dead,
   Und ziehe selig mit durch ew’ge      drifting blissfully with them through
Raume.      endless expanses.
 
 —Hermann Allmers (1821–1902)
 
 
 
 
 
The New River
 

Down the river comes a noise!
It is not the voice of rolling waters;
It’s only the sounds of man
   Phonographs and gasoline,
   Dancing halls and tambourine.
Killed is the blare of the hunting horn;
The river gods are gone.
                                     
                             —[Charles Ives]
 
 
 
Minnelied / Love Song
 
Holder klingt der Vogelsang,    Lovelier sound the singing birds
Wann die Engelreine,      When that pure angel—
Die mein Jünglings herz bezwang,    She who has conquered my young heart—
Wandelt durch die Haine.     walks slowly through the woods.  
Röther blühen Thal und Au,     Valleys and fields are blooming, red, 
Grüner wird der Wasen,     Greener is the grass, 
Wo die Finger meiner Frau     where the fingers of my love
Maien blumen lasen.      gather May flowers.  
Ohne Sie ist alles todt,     Without her, everything is dead,
Welk sind Blüt und Kräuter;     Flowers and herbs are faded,
Und kein Frühlingsabendroth    And spring sunsets are no longer
Dünkt mir schön und heiter.    Fair and serene.  
Traute, minnigliche Frau,     Sweet, loving lady,
Wollest nimmer fliehen     Will you never depart?
Dass mein Herz, gleich dieser Au,    So that my heart, like these fields
Mög in Wonne blühen.     May bloom with joy!
 
  —Ludwig H. C. Hölty
 
 
 
Romanzo (di Central Park)
 
[I]  [2]  [3]  [4]
Grove,  Heart,  Kiss,  Heart,
Rove,  Impart,  Bliss,  Impart,
Night,  Prove,  Blest,  Impart,
Delight. Love.  Rest.  Love.
 
            —Leigh Hunt (fl. 1820s), stanzas 1-3;
           [Charles Ives, stanza 4]
 
 
Soprano Susan Narucki is recognized as one of today’s leading interpreters of contemporary music. Her
engagements during the 2007–8 season included Elliott Carter’s Tempo e Tempi with James Levine and
the MET Chamber Ensemble at Carnegie Hall, Stravinsky’s Les Noces (in a new orchestration by Steven
Stucky) with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gerard Grisey’s L’icône paradoxale at
IRCAM’s Festival Agora with the Orchestra of Radio France at the Cité de la Musique, and Liza Lim’s
Mother Tongue with the ELISION Ensemble at the Maerzmuzik Festival in Berlin. 
 
Ms. Narucki’s recent appearances include the Cleveland Orchestra with Pierre Boulez, the San Francisco
Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music with Marin Alsop,
and the New York premiere of Oliver Knussen’s Songs for Sue at Zankel Hall under the baton of the
composer. The soprano has been a guest with the Brentano String Quartet, the Orion String Quartet, the
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Norfolk, Yellow Barn, and Santa Fe Chamber Music
Festivals, and has appeared in recital with the pianist Boris Berman in works of Schoenberg and
Mussorgsky at Yale University.
 
Susan Narucki earned both Grammy and Cannes awards for her recordings of the works of George Crumb
and a 2002 Grammy nomination in the Best Classical Vocal Performance for Elliott Carter’s Tempo e
Tempi, all on Bridge Records. Her extensive discography includes Louis Andriessen’s Writing to Vermeer
on Nonesuch, the Netherlands Opera production of Claude Vivier’s Rêves d’un Marco Polo on Opus Arte
DVD, and song cycles of Aaron Jay Kernis with the pianist Donald Berman on Koch. Susan Narucki is on
the faculty of the University of California, San Diego. 
 
Pianist Donald Berman is a champion of new works by living composers, overlooked music by
twentieth-century masters, and recitals that link classical and modern repertoires. His recordings The
Unknown Ives Volumes 1 & 2 and The Uncovered Ruggles on New World Records have been
internationally acclaimed. He is the pianist and Artistic Director of Americans in Rome: Music by Fellows
of the American Academy in Rome, a four-volume CD on Bridge Records (2008). He has presented
recitals, lectures, and master classes in Israel, Italy, and throughout the United States and co-directs the New
England Conservatory Summer Piano Institute. He has performed to critical acclaim at major halls in New
York City and beyond and premiered works as diverse as Mark Wingate’s electro-acoustic When Brahma
Sleeps, Su Lian Tan’s U-Don Rock, David Rakowski’s Chase, and Donald Martino’s Piano Trio. 
 
Recently, Mr. Berman premiered and recorded Christopher Theofanidis’s Piano Concerto with the Pro
Musica Chamber Orchestra of Ohio and with the Belgrade Philharmonic in Serbia, recorded a CD of
songs by Aaron Jay Kernis with Susan Narucki (Koch) and premiered the Fromm Foundation Commission
of Stephen Jaffe’s Viola Sonata with Jonathan Bagg of the Ciompi Quartet. Other recent performances have
ranged from Mozart concertos with the Columbus Symphony to American music retrospectives, to recitals
linking Haydn and Schubert with new music.
 
He is a prizewinner of the 1991 Schubert International Competition and a member of the Dinosaur Annex
New Music Ensemble since 1987. Mr. Berman has been presented by League/ISCM, Masters of
Tomorrow in Germany, French Cultural Services (Fauré Sesquicentennial), and many others. He has
premiered concertos, solo, and ensemble works with many organizations including Collage, Real Art Ways,
and on his series Firstworks and Pioneers and Premieres. He studied with Leonard Shure (New England
Conservatory), John Kirkpatrick, George Barth (Wesleyan University), Mildred Victor, and co-directs the
new-music ensemble at Tufts University.
 
 
 
 
 
SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY
Holidays Symphony. Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. Sony
Classical SK 42381.
Ives Plays Ives. New World Records 80642-2.
Piano Sonata No. 2 (“Concord, Mass., 1840–1860”). Marc-André Hamelin. New World Records 80378-2.
String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2. Juilliard String Quartet. Sony Essential Classics 87967. 
Symphony No. 2. New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein conducting. Sony Classical SMK 60202.
Symphony No. 3. Concertgebouw Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. Sony Classical SK
46440.
Symphony No. 4. Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. Sony
Classical SK 44939.
The Unknown Ives, Volume 1. Donald Berman, piano. New World/CRI CD 811.
The Unknown Ives, Volume 2. Donald Berman, piano. New World Records 80618-2.
Violin Sonatas Nos. 1–4. Gregory Fulkerson, violin; Robert Shannon, piano. Bridge Records 9024 A/B. 
 
 
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Burkholder, Peter. Charles Ives: The Ideas Behind the Music. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.
——. Editor. Charles Ives and His World. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.
Cowell, Henry, and Sidney Cowell. Charles Ives and His Music. Reprint. London and New York: Oxford
University Press, 1969.
Ives, Charles. Essays Before a Sonata, The Majority, and Other Writings. Howard Boatwright, ed. New
York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1999.
Kirkpatrick, John, ed. Charles E. Ives: Memos. New York: W.W. Norton, 1991.
Perlis, Vivian. Charles Ives Remembered: An Oral History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974.
Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1994.
Reed, Joseph W. Three American Originals:  John Ford, William Faulkner, & Charles Ives. Middletown,
CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1984. 
Swafford, Jan. Charles Ives: A Life with Music. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996.
 
 
Produced and engineered by Adam Abeshouse
Edited and mastered by Adam Abeshouse
Recorded March 18–20, 2008 at The Recital Hall at The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, State
University of New York.
Piano Technician: Ed Court
Photographs: Charles Ives c. 1947 in New York City; Charles and Harmony Twichell Ives c. 1947,
Photographer: Clara Sipprell. By kind permission The Charles Ives Papers in the Irving S. Gilmore Music
Library of Yale University.
Donald Berman and Susan Narucki: Richard Bowditch
Design: Bob Defrin Design, Inc., NYC
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                     DEDICATION
H. Wiley Hitchcock (1923–2007)
 
This recording was the result of a collaboration with Wiley Hitchcock, the editor of the Critical Edition of
Ives Songs for The Charles Ives Society, Inc. Wiley proposed the song list, offered guidance, and we are
ever grateful for his wise support and advocacy.
 
 
SPECIAL THANKS AND REMEMBRANCE
We wish to express our gratitude and thanks to Vivian Perlis, James Sinclair, Peter Burkholder, James
Kendrick, and John Heiss for their guidance and support of this CD. 
 
 
To Meredith Moss and our “Two Little Flowers,” Raleigh and Eleanor.
 
 
My earliest memory of singing as a child was hearing my father sing in the car. I still remember being
amazed by his beautiful baritone voice. I would like to remember John P. Narucki, my father, whose voice
made me want to sing.
 
 
And Richard L. Berman, whose piano playing in evening hours made me want to play. 
 
 
We remember with fondness the mentors and family members who were very much a part of this project
and no longer with us:
 
 
Betty N. Newborg (1908–2008)
Hilda N. Gilbert (1919–2007)
Mildred Victor Silverstein (1915–2007)
Patricia Zander (1942–2008)
 
 
And to my friend, Jacques Kruithof (1947–2008), who listened, and who loved these songs. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
PUBLISHING CREDITS:
Associated Music Publishers (AMP): Evening, Where the eagle cannot see 
 
Merion Music: Ann Street, The Children’s Hour, December, Feldeinsamkeit, General William Booth
Enters into Heaven, The Greatest Man, The “Incantation,” The Light That Is Felt, Like a Sick Eagle, The
New River, September, Swimmers, Tom Sails Away, Two Little Flowers, West London 
 
Peer International: August, Down East, Du bist wie eine Blume, The Housatonic at Stockbridge,
Minnelied, Romanzo (di Central Park), The Sea of Sleep, Songs my mother taught me, The Things Our
Fathers Loved, Watchman! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This recording was made possible by grants from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the
Charles Ives Society, the Classical Recording Foundation, and the Francis Goelet
Charitable Lead Trust.
 
NO PART OF THIS RECORDING MAY BE COPIED OR REPRODUCED WITHOUT
WRITTEN PERMISSION OF A.R.M., INC.
 
 
FOR NEW WORLD RECORDS:
Herman E. Krawitz, President; Lisa Kahlden, Vice-President; Paul M. Tai, Director of Artists and
Repertory; Mojisola Oké, Bookkeeper; Anthony DiGregorio, Production Associate.
 
ANTHOLOGY OF RECORDED MUSIC, INC., BOARD OF TRUSTEES:
Richard Aspinwall; Milton Babbitt; Jean Bowen; Thomas Teige Carroll; Emanuel Gerard; David Hamilton;
Rita Hauser; Lisa Kahlden; Herman E. Krawitz; Fred Lerdahl; Robert Marx; Arthur Moorhead; Elizabeth
Ostrow; Cynthia Parker; Larry Polansky; Don Roberts; Marilyn Shapiro; Patrick Smith; Paul M. Tai; Blair
Weille.
 
Francis Goelet (1926–1998), Chairman
New World Records, 75 Broad Street, Suite 2400, New York, NY 10004-2415
Tel (212) 290-1680  Fax (212) 290-1685
E-mail: info@newworldrecords.org 
P & © 2008 Anthology of Recorded Music, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
THE LIGHT THAT IS FELT
SONGS OF CHARLES IVES (1876–1954)
SUSAN NARUCKI, SOPRANO 
DONALD BERMAN, PIANO
80680-2
 
1. Songs my mother taught me (1901)  2:56
2. Tom Sails Away (1917)   2:38 
3. The Housatonic at Stockbridge (1921)  3:06
4. The Greatest Man (1921)    1:20
5. West London (1921)    2:42
6. The “Incantation” (1921)   1:38
7. Du bist wie eine Blume (1897)   1:14
8. Down East (1919)     3:27
9. The Children’s Hour (1913)  1:49
10. Where the eagle cannot see (1906)  1:23
11. General William Booth Enters into Heaven (1914)  5:38
12. The Things Our Fathers Loved (1917)   1:39
13. Two Little Flowers (1921)    1:2
14. August (1920)      2:32
15. September (1920)     :55 
16. December (1920)      1:12
17. The Light That Is Felt (1903)    2:20
18. Ann Street (1921)     :52
19. Evening (1921)      1:34
20. The Sea of Sleep (1903)     1:00
21. Like a Sick Eagle (1920)     2:08
22. Swimmers (1915)      1:19
23. Watchman! (1913)     1:27
24. Feldeinsamkeit (1898)     3:20
25. The New River (1921)     :55
26. Minnelied (1901)      1:29
27. Romanzo (di Central Park) (1911)   2:12
 
TT: 57:02
 
ALL RECORDINGS BASED ON H. WILEY HITCHCOCK’S 2004 CRITICAL EDITIONS WITH THE EXCEPTION
OF TRACKS 7, 20, AND 26, BASED ON THE JOHN KIRKPATRICK CRITICAL EDITIONS.
 

Charles Ives, in full Charles Edward Ives, (born October 20, 1874, Danbury, Connecticut, U.S.—died May 19, 1954, New York City), significant American composer who is known for a number of innovations that anticipated most of the later musical developments of the 20th century.

Read More on This Topic

What's the Difference Between Tempo and Rhythm?

Tempo and rhythm are fundamental elements of music. Do you know the difference?

READ MORE

Ives received his earliest musical instruction from his father, who was a bandleader, music teacher, and acoustician who experimented with the sound of quarter tones. At 12 Charles played organ in a local church, and two years later his first composition was played by the town band. In 1893 or 1894 he composed “Song for the Harvest Season,” in which the four parts—for voice, trumpet, violin, and organ—were in different keys. That year he began studying at Yale University under Horatio Parker, then the foremost academic composer in the United States. His unconventionality disconcerted Parker, for whom Ives eventually turned out a series of “correct” compositions.

After graduation in 1898, Ives became an insurance clerk and part-time organist in New York City. In 1907 he founded the highly successful insurance partnership of Ives & Myrick, which he headed from 1916 to 1930. He devised the insurance concept of estate planning and considered his years in business a valuable human experience that contributed to the substance of his music. Nearly all his works were written before 1915; many lay unpublished until his death. Chronic diabetes and a hand tremor eventually forced him to give up composing and to retire from business. His music became widely known only in the last years of his life. In 1947 he received the Pulitzer Prize for his Third Symphony (The Camp Meeting; composed 1904–11). His Second Symphony (1897–1902) was first performed in its entirety 50 years after its composition.

Ives’s music is intimately related to American culture and experience, especially that of New England. His compositions—with integrated quotations from popular tunes, revival hymns, barn dances, and classical European music—are frequently works of enormous complexity that freely employ sharp dissonance, polytonal harmonies, and polymetric constructions. He drew from European music what techniques he wished while experimenting with tone clusters, microtonal intervals, and elements of chance in music (in one bassoon part he directs the player to play whatever he wants beyond a specific point). Believing that all sound is potential music, he was somewhat of an iconoclast and occasionally a parodist.

In The Unanswered Question (composed before 1908), a string quartet or string orchestra repeats simple harmonies; placed apart from them, a trumpet reiterates a question-like theme that is dissonantly and confusedly commented upon by flutes (optionally with an oboe or a clarinet). In the second movement of Three Places in New England (also titled First Orchestral Set and ANew England Symphony; 1903–14), the music gives the effect of two bands approaching and passing each other, each playing its own melody in its own key, tempo, and rhythm. His monumental Second Piano Sonata (subtitled Concord, Mass., 1840–60), which was written from 1909 to 1915 and first performed in 1938, echoes the spirit of the New England Transcendentalists in its four sections, “Emerson,” “Hawthorne,” “The Alcotts,” and “Thoreau.” It contains tone clusters, quotes Beethoven, and includes a flute obbligato honouring Thoreau’s wish to hear a flute over Walden. The mood of the sonata ranges from wild and dissonant to idyllic and mystical. It was published in 1920, together with Ives’s pamphlet Essays Before a Sonata.

Ives conceived his Second String Quartet (1911–13; composition on second movement begun 1907) as a conversation, political argument, and reconciliation among four men; it is full of quotations from hymns, marches, and Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. His Variations on America (1891; additions before 1894) is the earliest polytonal piece known. In one of his piano and violin sonatas, he adds a passage for trumpet. His 114 Songs (1919–24) for voice and piano vary from ballads to satire, hymns, protest songs, and romantic songs. In technique they range from highly complex (e.g., with tone clusters, polytonality, and atonality) to straightforward and simple.

Other compositions include Central Park in the Dark (1906), for chamber orchestra; General William Booth Enters into Heaven (1914; to Vachel Lindsay’s poem), for soloist or choir and band but also performed in arrangements for chamber orchestra and for voice and piano; and the four-part symphonyA Symphony: New England Holidays (“Washington’s Birthday,” 1909, rescored 1913; “Decoration Day,” 1912; “Fourth of July,” 1912–13; and “Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day,” 1904). The Ives manuscripts were given to the Library of the Yale School of Music by his wife, Harmony Ives, in 1955, and a temporary mimeographed catalog was compiled from 1954 to 1960 by pianist John Kirkpatrick.

Leave a Comment

(0 Comments)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *