Charles Ives composes the worst music I’ve ever heard

I really disliked Charles Ives’ composition “Putnam’s Camp” when I first listened to it two weeks ago; however, I tried to not to let that influence my reaction to this week’s listening “The Things Our Fathers Loved”. But now, after listening to “The Things Our Fathers Loved” several times, I can say with absolute certainty that I hate Charles Ives’ music.
I have always believed that music is the “best” art form. A musical composition elicits an emotional response in a listener with more immediacy than film or literature. It takes minutes or even hours for me to become emotionally invested in the plot of a novel or a movie; in contrast, I only have to listen to “Clair de Lune” or “Ode to Joy” for about thirty seconds in order to have a powerful emotional response to the composition.
The only emotion I feel when I listen to Ives’ “The Things Our Fathers Loved” is a strong desire to plug my ears. It’s absolutely awful. It isn’t in any particular key, it doesn’t follow any musical form, and the notes all sound horrible together. It sounds like a child is hitting random keys on a piano and holding down the pedal so that the notes all blend together in an unpleasant, polytonal mess.
 Ives’ compositions defy everything I know and love about music. Good music does not have to be beautiful; however, I think it should at least be palatable. While the other composers we’ve studied all build upon the advances of the previous’ generation’s compositions (Mozart’s music is influenced by baroque-era composers like Bach, Beethoven’s music is influenced by Mozart, etc), I can’t think of any popular composers or musicians who make polytonal music like Ives’.
I don’t understand why we study Ives, and I cannot imagine that anyone actually enjoys listening to atonal music.

One thought on “Charles Ives composes the worst music I’ve ever heard

  1. Edward J Pugliese

    As a teenager I was !st chair principal player ( B Flat Trumpet) in youth summer symphony.
    Upon arrival for summer orientation, I discovered in horror that we would be performing perhaps the worst classical composition in musics history,Charles Ives Forth of July. I walked off stage 30 minutes into rehearsal and was joined 75% of the other players. We flat out refused to perform this dreadful composition by the sadly mentally ill Ives. After 2 weeks of delays with nearly the entire orchestra joining in refusal to perform this piece,the music director was replaced and the Ives nightmare was replaced with the astonishing composition of Gustav Holst,(The Planets) Our 4 performances that summer were all sold out. Had this change made thought intense protest not been made,we would have played to an empty house after the opening night performance.
    Ives entire repertoire is Toxic to both performers and listeners. Had effective anti psychotic meds been available to Ives his compositions would have almost certainly been very different.


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