(Photo courtesy of Taso Papadakis)
Charles Ives (1874-1954) was one of twentieth century America’s most original composers. In more than 100 songs, Ives wove together original melodies, fragments of popular songs and hymns, and harmonies of sweet simplicity or crashing dissonance. There is a pronounced nostalgia in many songs, and often a humorous or ironic note.
“The Things our Fathers Loved” is a small masterpiece, with echoes of popular tunes such as “Dixie,” “Nettleton (Come thou, fount of every blessing),” and “In the Sweet By and By.” The song is a musical memory of a July 4 weekend in New England.
I think there must be a place in the soul
All made of tunes from long ago.
I hear the organ on the Main Street corner;
Aunt Sarah humming gospels, summer evenings;
The village cornet band playing in the square,
The town’s red, white and blue.
Now, hear the songs!
I know not what are the words,
But they sing in my soul
Of the things our fathers loved.
Click here to view Gerald’s performance of “The Things our Fathers Loved.” (The original key has been transposed for high voice.)