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Music in the Early Twentieth Century


CHAPTER 5 Containing Multitudes (Transcendentalism, II)
Richard Taruskin

But did he stop being an artist? His business career gave Ives the courage to write music (and write it in quantity) of a kind that fully expressed his idealistic commitments. Yet here, too, a certain amount of gender role-playing seems to have been a factor. His fear of the effeminacy associated in America with classical music fed his maximalistic inclinations, since to his mind a conspicuously “strong” and dissonant style was an assertion of masculinity. The abundant Ives apocrypha is full of stories attesting to this sort of blustery machismo, including one in which he rebuked a protesting member of the audience at a modern music concert by shouting, “Stop being such a goddamn sissy! Why can’t you stand up before fine strong music like this and use your ears like a man?”13 The Memos, too, abound in raillery against “old ladies of both sexes” who patronized “nice” music.14 (Here, as Rossiter points out, Ives the wealthy but conflicted businessman was rebelling against his own social class.) And as the Memos reveal, at least one of Ives’s most stylistically radical scores—the Second String Quartet, composed, like most of the music that followed Ives’s professional withdrawal, over a lengthy span of years (1907-13)—originated in protest against the feminine connotations of its genre. After attending recitals by the Boston-based Kneisel Quartet, one of the most prestigious chamber groups then playing in America, Ives recalled,

It used to come over me…that music had been, and still was, too much of an emasculated art. Too much of what was easy and usual to play and to hear was called beautiful, etc.—the same old even-vibration, Sybaritic apron-strings, keeping music too much tied to the old ladies. The string quartet music got more and more weak, trite, and effeminate. After one of those Kneisel Quartet concerts in the old Mendelssohn Hall, I started a string quartet score, half mad, half in fun, and half to try out, practise, and have some fun with making those men fiddlers get up and do something like men.15

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 5 Containing Multitudes (Transcendentalism, II)." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2024. <https://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume4/actrade-9780195384840-div1-005004.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 5 Containing Multitudes (Transcendentalism, II). In Oxford University Press, Music in the Early Twentieth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 22 Apr. 2024, from https://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume4/actrade-9780195384840-div1-005004.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 5 Containing Multitudes (Transcendentalism, II)." In Music in the Early Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 22 Apr. 2024, from https://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume4/actrade-9780195384840-div1-005004.xml
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