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About J. Peter Burkholder
J. Peter Burkholder writes about how music is shaped by its historical circumstances, how it conveys meaning, and how it responds to other music. His writings explore what musicians are thinking about as they create music, what problems they face and try to solve, and how knowing that background can help us to understand their music. In his books and dozens of articles, he has focused on twentieth-century composers, especially American composer Charles Ives, and on issues of musical borrowing and musical meaning. His writings have won awards from the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, and have been translated and published in Japanese, Spanish, German, Italian, Korean, Chinese, and Arabic.
Burkholder is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he taught for over three decades before retiring in 2019. He has served as President of the American Musicological Society and of the Charles Ives Society, and in 2010 he became the youngest person ever named an Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society.
His books include:
Listening to Charles Ives: Variations on His America (Amadeus Press/Rowman & Littlefield, 2020)
A History of Western Music, 10th ed. (with Donald Jay Grout and Claude V. Palisca; W. W. Norton, 2019)
Norton Anthology of Western Music, 8th ed., 3 vols. (editor, with Claude V. Palisca; W. W. Norton, 2019)
Charles Ives and His World (editor; Princeton University Press, 1996)
Charles Ives and the Classical Tradition (coeditor, with Geoffrey Block; Yale University Press, 1996)
All Made of Tunes: Charles Ives and the Uses of Musical Borrowing (Yale University Press, 1995)
Charles Ives: The Ideas Behind the Music (Yale University Press, 1985)
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Charles Ives is widely regarded as the first great American composer of classical music. But listening to his music is an adventure—hearing how a piece begins may not prepare you for what comes next, or how it ends. Knowing one Ives piece may not prepare you for another.
Award-winning music historian J. Peter Burkholder provides an introduction to the composer’s diverse musical output and unusual career to readers of any background, discussing about forty of the best and most characteristic pieces framed with biographical sketches. Burkholder shows how Ives mastered each tradition he encountered, from American popular music to classical European genres, from Protestant church music to his own unique experimental idiom, and then interwove elements from all these traditions in the astonishing works of his maturity. Listening to Charles Ives contains compelling walkthroughs of select pieces and ultimately reveals that there is an Ives piece for everyone.
This volume shows Charles Ives in the context of his world in a number of revealing ways. Five new essays examine Ives's relationships to European music and to American music, politics, business, and landscape. J. Peter Burkholder shows Ives as a composer well versed in four distinctive musical traditions who blended them in his mature music. Leon Botstein explores the paradox of how, in the works of Ives and Mahler, musical modernism emerges from profoundly antimodern sensibilities. David Michael Hertz reveals unsuspected parallels between one of Ives's most famous pieces, the Concord Piano Sonata, and the piano sonatas of Liszt and Scriabin. Michael Broyles sheds new light on Ives's political orientation and on his career in the insurance business, and Mark Tucker shows the importance for Ives of his vacations in the Adirondacks and the representation of that landscape in his music.
The remainder of the book presents documents that illuminate Ives's personal life. A selection of some sixty letters to and from Ives and his family, edited and annotated by Tom C. Owens, is the first substantial collection of Ives correspondence to be published. Two sections of reviews and longer profiles published during his lifetime highlight the important stages in the reception of Ives's music, from his early works through the premieres of his most important compositions to his elevation as an almost mythic figure with a reputation among some critics as America's greatest composer.