The Catholic University of America

American Experimentalism: Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, and John Cage

Dr. Christina Taylor Gibson

 

Although the composers are different in many respects, most experimental works by Ives, Cowell, and Cage urge us to appreciate the beauty in dissonance and to question received tradition, ultimately realizing a new definition of “music.”  Perhaps these philosophical similarities drew the three men to intertwine their professional lives: Ives provided monetary and emotional support to Cowell, Cowell admired and promoted Ives, and Cage studied with Cowell.  In this class we will examine the work and influence of these three composers with particular emphasis on their relationships to one another.  Their writings and scores will form the basis for class study.  In addition to preparing for class discussion, each student will be required to complete a research paper using primary source material available in the D.C. metropolitan area.