Charles Edward Ives was the first internationally acclaimed American
composer. He wrote his Symphony No. 2 in the years 1897 to 1901, but it was
not given its first performance until 1951. With his unparalleled musical
imagination, Ives created atonal music before Arnold Schoenberg, and
anticipated Igor Stravinsky in his experimentation with free dissonances,
quarter tones and polyrhythms, which are still problematical to play today.
The Symphony No. 2, however, is a simple, almost "academic" work in
comparison. It unites the musical tradition of the Old World with American
folk songs, hymns and patriotic songs. What emerged was a humorous, almost
folkloristic work which vividly conveys the feeling of true American
vitality, naturalness and optimism, while interjecting recollections of
Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Dvorak and Bruckner.
Played by the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio under Leonard
Bernstein, Ives' Symphony No. 2 was recorded at the Congress Hall of the
Deutsches Museum in Munich in 1987.