Charles Ives – A Symphony: New England Holidays (1897-1913)

Charles Ives (1874-1954)

Holidays Symphony (or A Symphony: New England Holidays)

I. Washingtons Birthday
II. Decoration Day
III. The Fourth of July
IV. Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day

San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas

Charles Ives got the idea to write a holiday symphony during the summer of 1905. He wanted to write each movement as if it were based on a grown mans memory of his childhood holidays. Here are melodies like icons, resonating with memory and history, with war, childhood, community, and nation. Ives constructed these movements based on personal memories from his past, including his father, George Ives, and the town of Danbury. His father had a huge impact on Ivess compositions, especially after he died in November 1894. Ives lived in Danbury throughout his childhood, a town which holds many of the life experiences that inspired him to compose a Holdiday Symphony. New England Holidays exemplies multi-tonality in the reharmonization of borrowed musicand [mixing of] several keys. This work is notorious for its quotations, in particularly, its complex overlapping of multiple sources. Without the plethora of quotation, Holiday Symphony would lose its ability to call forth memories and emotions. The first three movements of Holiday Symphony were performed in the United States and Europe in 1931 and 1932 under the direction of Nicolas Slonimsky. The concerts created great excitement: laughter, protest, enthusiasm. Ivess music never occupied more than a single modest spot on each pair of programs, but several important critics singled it out for serious and admiring comment. ~ Wikipedia

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