Charles Ives, "my Father's Song": A Psychoanalytic Biography

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Yale University Press, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 396 pages
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"A sound of a distant horn

O'er shadowed lake is borne

--my father's song."--Charles Ives

Charles Ives, perhaps the quintessential American composer of the twentieth century, drew on his childhood experiences in a small New England town in his music. Through his close relationship with his father, George, a Civil War bandmaster, Ives developed a powerful feeling for nineteenth-century rural America. This book--the first full-scale psychoanalytic biography of a major composer--examines the lives of the two men and shows how a knowledge of their relationship as father and son, teacher and pupil, is central to an understanding of Ives's work.

Stuart Feder, a psychoanalyst with training in musicology, demonstrates that George exerted so pervasive an influence on Charles's creative life that Ives's music may be seen as the result of an unconscious fantasy of posthumous collaboration between father and son. The music bears George's mark, not only in its incorporation of hymn tunes, parlor ballads, Civil War marches, and other homely sources that derived from his youth, but also in its use of technical musical devices attributed to George. Moreover, the span of Ives's creative life reveals another connection to his father: Charles's musical productivity began to wane in his forties, as he approached the age at which his father died. Dr. Feder examines the influence of George's teaching and storytelling on Charles's years as a composer. Ives's later decline is traced psychologically and medically. Using Ives's music as an essential part of his data, Dr. Feder demonstrates how music can illuminate and be expressive of the inner life of its creator.

 

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CHARLES IVES: 'MY FATHER'S SONG': A Psychoanalytic Biography

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Traditional writing on Charles Ives, beginning with Henry and Sidney Cowell's slight 1955 biography, offers a sunny, straightforward view of the composer's creative legacy from his eccentric ... Read full review

Contents

Remembrance
1
One The Iveses of Danbury
9
A Composers Childhood
65
Six Boyhood and Its Veneration
85
Seven Collaborations
103
Eight At Parting
118
Music and Musicians
131
South Middle
151
Mollie Revenant
223
Fifteen A Boys Civil
229
Sixteen Places in the Soul
244
Seventeen Concord
257
Eighteen Journeys
273
TwentyOneAutobiographies I 192022
309
TwentyTwoAutobiographies ll 193134
323
TwentyThree Final Collaborations
339

Eleven Poverty Flat
169
Twelve Questionings
187
Thirteen Harmony
200
Appendix B A Discography of the 1H Songs
358
Index
385
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About the author (1992)

Stuart Feder, M.D., is a practicing psychoanalyst and a faculty member of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. He holds an advanced degree in music from Harvard University.

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