In a sort of concert narrative, Goodson will talk about Ives's music in the context of his life. And what a life: Ives may have been the most radical American composer of the turn of the last century, but his day job was selling insurance. In fact, Ives ran one of the biggest and most successful insurance agencies on the East Coast. But his business didn't stop his musical development. Whatever you want in modern music — atonality or polytonality, aleatoric music or musique concrte, multiple meters or metrical modulation, the clearest counterpoint or the sheerest unrelenting noise — Ives probably did it before anyone else.
As the repertoire Goodson has chosen demonstrates, Ives was the world's first — and is probably still the world's leading — polystylistic composer. He could write successfully in any genre, and, what's more, he could do it all in the same piece. While Ives's muse inspired him to compose everything from parlor songs to violin sonatas, his temperament led him to combine them all helter-skelter and even willy-nilly. The unity in Ives's diversity was his unwavering faith in his country and his unreserved belief in his God. Whether beatifically alone on the mountain or ecstatically celebrating a revival meeting, Ives's music embraced the multitudes and contradictions of American musical life.
[Originally published in May, 2005.]