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Charles Ives in the MirrorAmerican Histories of an Iconic Composer$
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David C. Paul

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037498

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037498.001.0001

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Songs of Our Fathers

Songs of Our Fathers

The Advocacy of Henry Cowell and the Appeal of the American Past, 1927–1947

Chapter:
(p.37) 2 Songs of Our Fathers
Source:
Charles Ives in the Mirror
Author(s):

David C. Paul

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037498.003.0003

This chapter focuses on Henry Cowell's advocacy of Charles E. Ives and his music between the years 1927 and 1947. Cowell's ideas about Ives can be grouped into two periods: those produced prior to the sentence he served at San Quentin State Prison for a 1936 conviction on a morals charge, and those produced after his release in 1940. This chapter first considers Cowell's portrait of Ives as a New England musical ethnographer before discussing the views of anthropologists, folklorists, and musical modernists about folk music. It then examines how Cowell became interested in folk music, along with his influence on Ives. It also looks at the notion of a usable past, advanced by Van Wyck Brooks in his essay “On Creating a Usable Past,” in which he called for a rewriting of the history of American literature. The chapter concludes with an assessment of Ives's “Concord” Sonata and Ives's commitment to freedom (in the sense of refusing to impose a fixed final form on his works).

Keywords:   folk music, Henry Cowell, Charles E. Ives, New England, musical ethnographer, usable past, Van Wyck Brooks, American literature, Concord Sonata, freedom

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