Image courtesy of the Charles Ives Society
Charles Ives' Decoration Day:
A Conductor's Guide
Charles Ives’ Decoration Day, a dreamy haze of almost-forgotten memories and half-remembered tunes, depicts recollections American Civil War through the eyes of a Connecticut youth at the end of the nineteenth century. The work, originally published as the second movement of Ives’ New England Holidays Symphony for orchestra, is a musical representation of the composer’s childhood memories of that eponymous holiday.
This paper links Ives’ own descriptions of the composition, his childhood, and his memories of the somber annual memorial to the musical gestures in the score, synthesizing extant scholarship with practical analysis and performance experience. Through better understanding Charles’ connections to the Civil War, specifically by way of his father, the bandmaster George Ives, Decoration Day comes to life as a stirring epitaph for a boy’s long-lost hero.
Published by the CBDNA Journal (Sage Open, Volume 9, Issue 1), March 29, 2019.
Carl Hirschberg, Decoration Day, 1885
Image courtesy of ArtNet.com.
CBDNA Research Presentation
This paper was presented on March 17, 2017, at the College Band Directors National Association National Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, as part of a juried academic research poster session.
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