In this sweeping survey of intellectual and musical history, David C. Paul tells the new story of how the music of American composer Charles Ives (1874–1954) was shaped by shifting conceptions of American identity within and outside of musical culture. Paul focuses on the critics, composers, performers, and scholars whose contributions were most influential in shaping the critical discourse on Ives, many of them marquee names of American musical culture themselves, including Henry Cowell, Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, and Leonard Bernstein.
Paul explores both how Ives positioned his music amid changing philosophical and aesthetic currents and how others interpreted his contributions to American music. Although Ives's initial efforts to find a public in the early twenties attracted a few devotees, the resurgence of interest in the American literary past during the thirties made a concert staple of his "Concord" Sonata, a work dedicated to nineteenth-century transcendentalist writers. Paul shows how Ives was subsequently deployed as an icon of American freedom during the early Cold War period and how he came to be instigated at the head of a line of "American maverick" composers. Paul also examines why a recent cadre of scholars has beset the composer with Gilded Age social anxieties.
In 1921, insurance executive Charles Ives sent out copies of a piano sonata to two hundred strangers. Laden with dissonant chords, complex rhythm, and a seemingly chaotic structure, the so-called Concord Sonata confounded the recipients, as did the accompanying book, Essays before a Sonata . Kyle Gann merges exhaustive research with his own experience as a composer to reveal the Concord Sonata and the essays in full. Diffracting the twinned works into their essential aspects, Gann lays out the historical context that produced Ives's masterpiece and illuminates the arguments Ives himself explored in the Essays . Gann also provides a movement-by-movement analysis of the work's harmonic structure and compositional technique; connects the sonata to Ives works that share parts of its material; and compares the 1921 version of the Concord with its 1947 revision to reveal important aspects of Ives's creative process. A tour de force of critical, theoretical, and historical thought, Charles Ives's Concord provides nothing less than the first comprehensive consideration of a work at the heart of twentieth century American music.
From Boss Crump to King Willie offers an in-depth look at the vital role that race played in the political evolution of Memphis, from the rise of longtime political boss Edward Hull Crump to the election of Dr. Willie Herenton as the city’s first black mayor. Filled with vivid details on the workings of municipal politics, this accessible account by veteran journalist Otis Sanford explores the nearly century-long struggle by African Americans in Memphis to secure recognition from local leaders and gain a viable voice in the city’s affairs.
Sanford explains how, in 1909, Crump won his first election as mayor without black support but then immediately sought to woo and keep the black vote in order to maintain his political machine for the next two generations. The African American community overwhelmingly supported the Crump organization because he at least listened and responded to some of
their concerns, while other white leaders completely ignored them. The book probes Crump’s hot-and-cold relationship with local newspaper editors, some of whom castigated his machine politics, and examines the press’s influence on the political and civic life of the city. It also shows how, amid longstanding racism and poverty in Memphis, the black community nevertheless produced many prominent business, religious, and political leaders, most of whom had an amicable relationship with “Boss” Crump.
The book goes on to explore the political vacuum that ensued after Crump’s death in 1954, and the factors that led to African Americans becoming the majority voting population in the city following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. Through the civil rights movement and beyond, black Memphians kept up their fight for recognition and inclusion.
That fight culminated in the election of Dr. Herenton, a well-educated native son who proved to be the right man at the right time to make racial and political history in the city. Additionally, the book compares the racial climate in Memphis with that in other southern cities during
the height of the civil rights movement.
OTIS SANFORD holds the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic/Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis. He also serves as the political commentator for WREG-TV in Memphis. A former managing editor and current political columnist at the Memphis Commercial Appeal, he also worked for the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, the Pittsburgh Press, and the Detroit Free Press. He was inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame in 2014.
Mad Music is the story of Charles Edward Ives (1874–1954), the innovative American composer who achieved international recognition, but only after he’d stopped making music. While many of his best works received little attention in his lifetime, Ives is now appreciated as perhaps the most important American composer of the twentieth century and father of the diverse lines of Aaron Copland and John Cage. Ives was also a famously wealthy crank who made millions in the insurance business and tried hard to establish a reputation as a crusty New Englander. To Stephen Budiansky, Ives’s life story is a personification of America emerging as a world power: confident and successful, yet unsure of the role of art and culture in a modernizing nation. Though Ives steadfastly remained an outsider in many ways, his life and times inform us of subjects beyond music, including the mystic movement, progressive anticapitalism, and the initial hesitancy of turn-of-the-century-America modernist intellectuals. Deeply researched and elegantly written, this accessible biography tells a uniquely American story of a hidden genius, disparaged as a dilettante, who would shape the history of music in a profound way. Making use of newly published letters—and previously undiscovered archival sources bearing on the longstanding mystery of Ives’s health and creative decline—this absorbing volume provides a definitive look at the life and times of a true American original.