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Ives is well known as a song composer, and probably no earlier American composer (except possibly Stephen Foster) is so universally identified as such. Yet, ironically, Ives's songs have only rarely been edited in any way. Virtually every page of the songs printed during his lifetime--his book of 114 Songs (privately printed in 1922), 34 Songs (1933), and 19 Songs (1935) (printed in Henry Cowell's New Music), all still available for purchase, all unchanged from their first printings--reveal palpable musical and textual errors, problematic notation, and puzzling inconsistencies. These songs have long cried out for scholarly critical editing.
With agreement from the three music publishers who hold the copyrights, the MUSA collection of 129 Songs by Ives comprises such a critical edition. It is based on comprehensive research into, and comparative study of, the voluminous extant musical and textual sources: Ives's manuscript sketches and fair copies; his many copyists' scores; songs he revised for the New Music prints; annotations and marginalia by him in personal copies of 114, 34, and 19 Songs; proofsheets (few survive); and authoritative manuscript and published text-sources (by Ives himself, his wife, and other authors). It will include all of the 114 Songs plus thirteen songs printed for the first time in the 1930s and later, and two unpublished songs among Ives's manuscripts (complete musically, but lacking texts)--in other words, all of Ives's songs for voice and piano not already published in critical editions. (Previous publications in critical editions, all by John Kirkpatrick, are: Eleven Songs and Two Harmonizations , Sunrise , and Forty Earlier Songs .)
A prefatory essay assesses Ives as songwriter in the context of American song of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and addresses his solo songs--which span his entire career as a composer (c.1887-c.1926)--in the context of his own musical convictions and predilections, as well as his overall output, within which the solo-song genre occupies an especially important place.
Carman, Judith. Review of 129 Songs, by Charles Ives. Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock. Journal of Singing 62, no. 1 (2005): 107-114.
Dickinson, Peter. Review of 129 Songs, by Charles Ives. Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock. Music and Letters 87, no. 4 (2006): 606-613.
Magee, Gale Sherwood. Review of 129 Songs, by Charles Ives. Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock. ISAM Newsletter 34, no. 2 (Spring 2005): 11, 15.
Nicholls, David. Review of 129 Songs, by Charles Ives. Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock. Notes 62, no. 3 (2006): 794-796.
Von Glahn, Denise. Review of 129 Songs, by Charles Ives. Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock. American Music 24, no. 2 (2006): 228-231.