Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Burkholder, J. Peter. “The Organist in Ives.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 55 (Summer 2002): 255-310.

Many elements of Charles Ives’s compositional technique, including some that seem to be his most radical, can be traced back to his early career as a church organist. Although pieces for solo organ make up a small part of Ives’s output, there are several pieces (including movements of symphonies 2, 3, and 4 and A Symphony: New England Holidays) that Ives reworked from now lost organ pieces. Four aspects of organ performance influence Ives’s later music, even when the organ itself is not especially prominent: improvisation, virtuosity, multiple keyboards with contrasting timbres, and mutation stops. Additionally, three characteristics of organ literature, fugue, pedal point, and elaboration of hymns, influenced the new directions Ives took in his music. For example, Ives links organ fugue and hymn practices in a lost organ fugue that was adapted into his String Quartet No. 1 and Symphony No. 4. The subject of this fugue was the first phrase of Missionary Hymn and the countersubject was a phrase of Coronation. In Symphony No. 4, both the fugue and hymn tunes evoke the extramusical “formalism and ritualism” of Ives’s program. Elements of Ives’s cumulative form are also anticipated in organ music introducing and accompanying hymns. Mendelssohn’s Organ Sonata No. 1 in particular anticipates several elements of Ives’s cumulative form practice, including adapting a hymn tune as a theme, stating the theme at the end, and developing variants of the tune before the tune itself. While organ music gives a foundation for many of his compositional techniques, Ives’s willingness to extrapolate from the organ tradition makes him unique among modernist composers.

Works: Ives: Sonata No. 2 for Piano, Concord, Mass., 1840-60 (264), Four Transcriptions from “Emerson” (264), String Quartet No. 1 (290-92), Symphony No. 4 (290-92), Sonata No. 4 for Violin and Piano (292-93); Mendelssohn: Organ Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 65, No. 1 (304-6)

Sources: Ives: Emerson Overture for Piano and Orchestra (264); Lowell Mason: Missionary Hymn (290-92); Oliver Holden: Coronation (290-92); William Hovard Doane: Old, Old Story (292-93); Claudin de Sermisy: Was mein Gott will, das g’schel’ allzeit (304-6)

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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