Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Metzer, David. "'We Boys': Childhood in the Music of Charles Ives." 19th-Century Music 21 (Summer 1997): 77-95.

The desire to return to one's childhood or the adult's recollection of a lost youth figure prominently as themes in the music and texts of Charles Ives. The composer's view of an innocent childhood fit into a larger American cultural trend in the first decades of the twentieth century as realized through nostalgic or sentimental ballads and regression fantasies acted out in literature and film of that time. By distorting borrowed melodies, Ives heightens distance between past and present, increasing the sense of nostalgia. The tune The Old Oaken Bucket is deeply embedded in Tom Sails Away, and its original lyrics also depict memories of childhood. The fragmented and sometimes cloudy quotations of The Beautiful River during the third movement of Ives's Fourth Violin Sonata suggest an impossible union between the boys and men of the hymn's lyrics. The melody of The Beautiful River materializes throughout the movement, but Ives prevents the melody from emerging in its entirety, thus suggesting the vagueness of memory and the distance between generations.

Works: Charles Ives: Tom Sails Away (81-87), Violin Sonata No. 4 (87-91).

Sources: George M. Cohan: Over There (84, 87); David T. Shaw, Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean (84, 87); Samuel Woodworth and George Kiallmark: The Old Oaken Bucket (Araby's Daughter) (84-87); Anonymous: Taps; George Ives: Fugue in B-flat Major (87); Robert Lowry: The Beautiful River (88-89).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Danielle Nelson, Amanda Sewell, Alexis Witt

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