Charles Ives and Leo Ornstein
After the musical canon became established in the Gilded Age, the status quo in American music persisted well into the second decade of the twentieth century. George Chadwick, Amy Beach, Horatio Parker, and many other late romantic composers remained active and maintained much of their styles. Before 1915 two American composers, Charles Ives and Leo Ornstein, were writing unusual and original music. Despite their completely different backgrounds, career tracks, and historical reputations, both men arrived at musical positions that were remarkably similar and endured comparable problems. Both also wrote programmatic music in the broadest sense. In January and February 1915, Ornstein gave a series of four concerts at the Bandbox Theatre in New York City, by far the most significant event in his American performing career. His most uncompromising foray into modernism was the Violin Sonata, Op. 31. For Ives, his Concord Sonata was a bold move that established his name before the musical world. This chapter focuses on the lives and musical careers of Ornstein and Ives.
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