HumanitiesWeb.org - The Rich Double Life of Charles Ives [Quotations]
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Charles Ives
Quotations



"Stop being such a God-damned sissy! Why can't you stand up before fine strong music like this and use your ears like a man?"
- At a 1931 concert of Ives's and Ruggles's music, a man booed during one of Ruggles's works

"Beauty in music is too often confused with something that lets the ears lie back in an easy chair. Many sounds that we are used to do not bother us, and for that reason we are inclined to call them beautiful. Frequently, when a new or unfamiliar work is accepted as beautiful on its first hearing, its fundamental quality is one that tends to put the mind to sleep. "
 
"I don't write music for sissy ears."
 
"If it feels like kicking over an ash can, a poet's castle, or a prosodic law, will you stop it? ... If it happens to feel like trying to fly where humans cannot fly, to sing what cannot be sung, to walk in a cave on all fours, or to tighten up its girth in blind hope and faith and try to scale mountains that are not, who shall stop it? In short, must a song always be a song! "
 
"God must get awfully tired of hearing the same thing over and over again, and in His all-embracing wisdom could certainly embrace a dissonance -- might even enjoy one now and again."
 
"My God! What has sound got to do with music?"
 
"These prefatory essays were written by the composer for those who can't stand his music and the music for those who can't stand his essays; to those who can't stand either, the whole is respectfully dedicated."
- His dedication to Essay Before a Sonata
 
"Stop being such a God-damned sissy! Why can't you stand up before fine strong music like this and use your ears like a man?"
- At a 1931 concert of Ives's and Ruggles's music, a man booed during one of Ruggles's works
 
"Why tonality as such should be thrown out for good, I can't see. Why it should be always present, I can't see."
 
"Please don't try to make things nice! All the wrong notes are right. Just copy as I have -- I want it that way."
- A note to his copyist, Mr. Price
 
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