The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives

The True Story of a
Famous American Composer

This post joins Nonfiction Monday
hosted today at Perogies & Gyoza
and also joins It's Monday!
What are you reading?

(pub. 10.9.2012) 32 pages 

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

A uthor and illustrator: Joanne Stanbridge 
haracter: Charles Ives

O verview from the publisher: 
   "The honk of a car horn. The busy clatter of footsteps. The blast of a ship's whistle. To some, these everyday sounds are noise, but to Charles Ives, a businessman by day and a composer at night, they are a symphony.
       After the attack and sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, all of New York falls silent, including Mr. Ives. But the sounds of hope wind their way into his heart, and he begins to shape them into music - extraordinary music inspired by a song overheard in the street on that dark day.
       With that spare text and tender illustrations, Joanne Stanbridge brings to life a shocking event in world history and reveals the beauty and power of artistic conviction." 

T antalizing taste: 

"All week long, Mr. Ives sits at his desk, adding and
subtracting numbers.

Now and then he has to stop working and let his
music come out. he lets it fly around the room, and
when it lands, he writes it down.

People don't listen to his music. They don't like it.
They don't understand it. They want familiar tunes
and beautiful harmonies - not songs that are as bold
as a city or as noisy as a traffic jam.

Mr. Ives writes his music down anyway. It lives inside
him like a friend, and he carries it with him wherever
he goes."
and something more: Joanne Stanbridge explains, in the Author's Note, that the evening after Charles Ives learned of the torpedoing of the Lusitania, he "watched his fellow [train] commuters respond to the tragedy by [joining in the singing of his father's favorite hymn 'In the sweet bye and bye/ we shall meet on that beautiful shore']. He was deeply moved, and he shaped the experience into a musical piece that became the final movement of his Second Orchestral Set... finished in the autumn of 1915, and [performed for the first time] in 1967, thirteen years after Ives' death."
      Joanne Stanbridge shows the Lusitania tragedy with ten pages of powerful wordless illustrations. The next spread shows the "faces of the people on the train station... grim and sad, but the music [that they collectively sing] is like a promise."  The book ends with a quote from Aldous Huxley: "After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."


Perogyo said...

Thanks for participating in Nonfiction Monday today! Special thanks for introducing me to a Canadian book. :) I love the message about hope through art after tragedy.

Jeff Barger said...

This would make for a great classroom discussion about how we deal with tragedy. Thanks for sharing!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Yes, it's a powerful one for talking about hope after tragedy. Thanks for stopping by, Jeff.

Resh said...

I have been waiting to read this book. We read "What Charlie heard!" (link :http://www.stackingbooks.com/?p=1529) and really enjoyed reading about Ives' inspiration. Will look for this book. Thanks for sharing!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

I'll have to check about "What Charlie Heard" -- I hadn't heard about that. Thanks!