Dissertation Index

Author: Thurmaier, David P

Title: Time and Compositional Process in Charles Ives's Holidays Symphony

Institution: Indiana University

Begun: May 2002

Completed: May 2006


This dissertation concentrates on A Symphony: New England Holidays (hereafter Holidays) for orchestra, a mature work by Charles Ives that serves as a representative example for considering intuitions of musical time and temporality. The four movements-—Washington’s Birthday, Decoration Day, The Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day—-exhibit distinctive techniques and processes that challenge the notion of unity and coherence asserted in traditional analyses of musical form and tonal structure. This project has a dual purpose: the first proposes a classification of musical practices and processes in the Holidays called temporal phenomena. This classification codifies techniques that are manifest in many pieces, but have not been categorized systematically. Ives often introduces each phenomenon clearly, but throughout the course of each movement, these techniques become distorted and modified, affecting their perception in the music.

In the second part of the project, each movement of the Holidays is analyzed by examining the manuscript sketches in light of these temporal considerations. By deciphering the techniques uncovered in the sketches, it is possible to observe the process by which Ives constructed each movement. In most cases, the earliest materials contain the most basic elements—-chords, wisps of melody, rhythmic fragments, orchestral indications—-while the gradual journey to the published version demonstrates a closer attention to detail and revision that clarifies Ives’s musical intentions, and provides integral information about compositional process in the symphony.

Keywords: time, temporality, Ives, sketch study, Holidays Symphony, compositional process


CHAPTER 1: Ives and the Holidays

CHAPTER 2: Musical Time and Temporality in the Holidays

CHAPTER 3: An Introduction to the Sketches

Washington’s Birthday

CHAPTER 4: Decoration Day

CHAPTER 5: The Fourth of July

CHAPTER 6: Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day

CHAPTER 7: Conclusions


APPENDIX: Hymn Concordance


David Thurmaier
217 Utt Music Building
Central Missouri State University
Warrensburg, MO 64093

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