ARTS 627
The Songs of Charles Ives and American Culture

Neely Bruce and Gary Harger        

Course Schedule
September 12 An introduction to Ives and his world; Danbury, Connecticut at the end of the nineteenth century. An overview of the chronology of Ives's output for solo voice.

PERFORMANCE of "Early love song group" (Because thou art, Canon [first version], Her Eyes, At Parting, My Lou Jeanine); selected early piano pieces.

September 19

A discussion of the “Songs of Peace”; Sunrise, Thoreau, The Housatonic at Stockbridge, Autumn, Ilmenau, Peaks, Grantchester, Serenity, The All-Enduring, Hymn, Far from my heavenly home, Forward Into Light, A Christmas Carol, Watchman; “Three Protests,” “The Anti-Abolitionist Riots” for piano.

PERFORMANCE and discussion of nineteenth century songs that prefigure Ives, part one: Stephen Foster.

September 26 A discussion of the “Songs of War”; General William Booth Enters Into Heaven, On Judges’ Walk, The World’s Highway, Tarrant Moss, Old Home Day, West London, Song of the Dead, Majority, Nov. 2, 1920, Flag Song, He is There!, Tom Sails Away, In Flanders Fields, Lincoln, the Great Commoner; “The Anti-Abolitionist Riots” for piano.

PERFORMANCE and discussion of nineteenth century songs that prefigure Ives, part two: unusual popular songs, religious pop music.

October 1

Ives Vocal Marathon, Round Five, Crowell Concert Hall
            1:00 panel discussion
            2:15 Ives Songs of Peace and War; sung by Johana Arnold, Elizabeth Saunders
            and David Barron; with Paul Woodiel and other assisting artists
            3:30 Discussion with the audience; break
            7:30 Ives In Context; with Johana Arnold soprano, Paul Woodiel, violinist

October 3

Ives in context, continued. Ives and American literature;

PERFORMANCE of “waltz/march group” (Omens and Oracles, Waltz, “1, 2, 3,” The See’r, The Circus Band); and “Story-telling group” (Friendship, The Last Reader, Two Slants [one Christian, one Pagan], Walt Whitman, The One Way)

October 10

Ives and world literature.

PERFORMANCE of “German/German translation” group (Gruss, Marie, Rosenzweige, My Native Land [first version], Du Alte Mutter, Over all the treetops) and “unusual love songs” (A Night Song, I Traveled Among Unknown Men, Kären, In the Alley, Tarrant Moss, Slugging a Vampire).


October 15 Possible field trip to the Ives home in Danbury, burying place, etc.
October 17 NO CLASS
October 24

Review of Ives and the nineteenth century; Ives’s education.

PERFORMANCE of “complex love songs group” (When stars are in the quiet skies, In My Beloved’s Eyes, Song, Her Gown Was of Vermillion Silk, The Old Mother [version with Ives’s text], The Greatest Man, Son of a Gambolier)

October 31

Ives and Politics, part one.

PERFORMANCE of “songs about fatherhood” (Remembrance, The Rainbow [So may it be], Those Evening Bells, The Things Our Fathers Loved [and the greatest of these was liberty]) and an “eclectic group” (Romanzo [di Central Park], Mirage, The Innate, Requiem)

November 7

Election Day; Ives and Politics, part two.

PERFORMANCE of “political songs” (Tolerance, Vote for Names, They Are There!); with guest artist Elizabeth Saunders (November 2, 1920—An Election, other songs pertaining to the months of the year)

November 14

Ives and religion.

PERFORMANCE of “fantasy group” (Dreams, A Sea Dirge, There is a certain garden, Paracelsus); with guest artist Phyllis Bruce (The World’s Highway, Serenity, The Collection, On The Counter, Forward Into Light).

November 21 NO CLASS
November 28

Ives and nature. Review of all earlier songs pertaining to landscape, the transcendental in natural phenomena, etc.

PERFORMANCE of “miscellaneous group” (There is a lane, Disclosure, The Only Son, Rough Wind, South Wind).


December 5

Ives and the avant-garde in the twentieth century. Songs that require multiple pianists, with guest artist Donald Berman.

PERFORMANCE of “On the Antipodes” and other experimental songs; “Rough Wind” and other complex accompaniments revisited; related piano music of Ives. Discussion of Ives editing; the Charles Ives Society; etc.

December 12 Final projects due; discussion and review.
Principal Texts (Required)

Principal texts (required):           
Jan Swafford, Charles Ives: A Life With Music
Charles Ives, Essays Before a Sonata and Other Writings
The poetry and prose set to music by Ives (this will be distributed in class)

Assigned Articles

Assigned articles will include:           
H. Wiley Hitchcock, “Editing Ives’s 129 Songs”
Judith Tick, “Charles Ives and the politics of direct democracy”           
Neely Bruce, “Ives and nineteenth century American music.”           
Mark Tucker, “Of Men and Mountains: Ives in the Adirondacks”           
C. K. Baron, “Efforts on behalf of democracy by Charles Ives and his family; their religious contexts”           
Selected early twentieth century (contemporaneous) reviews of Ives

Assignments and Quizzes

Assignments and quizzes: There will be two brief quizzes on the readings (true-false questions, identifications, etc.) and a final paper/presentation on some aspect of the songs of Ives and their cultural context. The specific topic that each student studies will be agreed upon by the student and Professor Bruce, no later than October 31. Any singers who take this course are encouraged to perform Ives songs of their choice for the class.


A field trip to one or more museums in the state that feature American art.