Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Music

Program

Music

Supervisor

Dr. Emily Abrams Ansari

Abstract

Charles Ives’s Piano Sonata No. 2 Concord Mass., 1840–1860 (1921) is considered by many scholars to be a transcendental work as it is dedicated to the four main transcendental scholars—Emerson, Hawthorne, Alcott (and his family), and Thoreau—who resided in Concord, Massachusetts in the mid-nineteenth century. Yet Ives’s writings reveal the Sonata to have been a much more personal narrative in which the transcendental scholars serve the greater purpose of illustrating values, morals, and characteristics Ives found desirable in his own culture. Through an interrogation of the musical borrowings in the Concord Sonata and their multiple layers of extramusical association, I consider the Sonata as a musical outcome of the conflict between nostalgia and modernism that existed in American culture during the early twentieth century. I examine these extramusical associations in detail and place them within a cultural context in order to bring a deeper layer of understanding to the Concord Sonata’s symbolic program.


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