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Yes, Ives wrote some music that is not "off the wall"

Variations on “America,” the organ music for this Sunday, was written by Charles Ives in 1891 when he was seventeen. According to Wikipedia:

It is an arrangement of a traditional tune, known as "America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)" (words by Samuel Francis Smith), and was at the time the de facto anthem of the United States. The tune is also widely recognized in Thomas Arne's orchestration as the British National Anthem, "God Save the King", and in the former anthems of Russia ("The Prayer of Russians", from 1816 to 1833), Switzerland ("Rufst du, mein Vaterland", until 1961), and Germany ("Heil dir im Siegerkranz", from 1871 to 1918), as well as being the current national anthem of Liechtenstein ("Oben am jungen Rhein") and the royal anthem of Norway, "Kongesangen."

Ives prepared it for a Fourth of July celebration in 1892 at the Methodist church where he was organist in Brewster, New York [across the state line from his home in Danbury, Connecticut]. He performed it for the first time on February 17, 1892, and made revisions to the work until 1894. Although the piece is considered challenging even by modern concert organists, he spoke of playing the pedal work in the final variation as being "almost as much fun as playing baseball". It went unpublished until 1949, when the organist E. Power Biggs rediscovered it, and prepared an edition for publication. He incorporated it into his repertoire, and it became a regularly performed piece by American organists. In 1962 it was orchestrated by William Schuman, and premiered in this version by the New York Philharmonic under Andre Kostelanetz in 1964.

When I was studying the piece, I examined the original manuscript from the Ives collection at Yale University. I found several wrong notes in the E.Power Biggs edition. I play the notes that Ives wrote in his manuscript. The piece has to be modified in order to be played on our organ. It is a wonderful piece and most appropriate for Fourth of July celebrations.


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