This book explores the changing images of American composer and music icon Charles E. Ives across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, paying particular attention to issues of agency (how an idea transfers from one person to another) and constituency (the nature and size of the audience to which a person speaks). Ives has been, at various times, considered a hero, victim, villain—sometimes singly, sometimes simultaneously. He had been portrayed, for example, as a pioneer of American musical modernism and a symbol of American freedom, but at the same time the perpetrator of one of the greatest musical hoaxes of all times. This book examines the way Ives has been imagined by the critics, composers, performers, and scholars who have had the most impact in shaping the various conversations about him, from Leonard Bernstein and Henry Cowell to Aaron Copland and Elliott Carter. It argues that the history of Ives's reception is not only a series of portraits of an unusual composer, but also a series of mirrors that reflect the way Americans have viewed themselves.
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