Everything you always wanted to know about preparing the Ives Fourth Symphony but were afraid to ask!
Number of Conductors
Ives conceived the Fourth Symphony as a work requiring assistant conductors (see the entries concerning mm. 43–51 and mm. 141–145 in his Conductor’s Note to the second movement). With sufficient rehearsals and a clever conducting strategy, a single conductor might coordinate the forces in these and similar passages, but it would be difficult. Part of the drama of a live performance of this work is the use of additional conductors, so the interpreter is encouraged to embrace this aspect of the score.
Where an additional conductor is needed is something each principal conductor will need to decide on a case-by-case basis. (See The “Collapse Section” and Other Non-Synchronized Temporal Effects below for a complete listing of all sections in the score that would benefit from the use of an assistant conductor. Notice that not all of the non-synchronized events require a separate conductor, but many would be difficult to execute without one.)
The present Performance Score is designed to facilitate the execution of this work regardless of the number of conductors employed, whether by a single conductor or by multiple conductors.
Chorus in Movement I
Ives applies the instruction “preferably without chorus” at the entrance of the choir in m. 17. Here he likely expected the audience of his day to recognize the hymn tune in the Trumpet, and thus felt ambivalent about the necessity of employing a chorus in this movement. Modern audiences, on the other hand, will appreciate hearing the hymn sung by a chorus. Even more, the appearance of the chorus at the end of the fourth movement begs for a matching choral bookend at the front end of the symphony.
IPA Transliteration (General American) of the Watchman Lyrics
To assist choruses for whom American English pronunciation is difficult, the lyrics of the Watchman hymn are provided with an International Phonetic Alphabet transliteration (using “General American” accents) on the front cover of each choral part. Here it is reproduced for study by the conductor:
Watchman, tell us of the night,
wɑtʃmæn, tel əs əv ðə naɪt,
What its signs of promise are.
wɑt ɪts saɪnz əv prɑməs ɑr.
Trav’ler o’er yon mountain’s height,
trævlər, ɔr jɑn mæʊntənz haɪt,
See that glory-beaming star!
si: ðæt glɔri:-bi:mɪɳ stɑr!
Watchman, aught of joy or hope?
wɑtʃmæn, ɔt əv dʒɔɪ ɔr hoʊp?
Trav’ler, yes; it brings the day,
trævlər, jes; ɪt brɪÎz ðə deɪ,
Promised day of Israel.
prɑməst deɪ əv ɪzraɪɛl.
Dost thou see its beauteous ray?
dəst ðæə si: ɪts bju:ti:əs reɪ?
* Notice that the American choral pronunciation of Israel is adopted here.
Distant Choir (D.C.)
The first and fourth movements employ a Distant Choir (D.C.) of five Violins and one Harp. The D.C. represents the “Heavenly Host” of the “Watchman” hymn in the first movement, and is best spatially separated from the main orchestra, preferably above the orchestra, perhaps in a balcony or in a choir alcove.
In the first movement, the D.C. is alternately synchronized and unsynchronized with the main orchestra, which may or may not require an assistant conductor. In the fourth movement, the D.C. is synchronized with the main orchestra throughout. Bracketed letters [a] through [m] are employed for the dyssynchronized measures of the D.C. in Movement 1 (measures 5–27 of Main Orchestra) to facilitate rehearsals.
Because of their spatial separation, the five Violin players will not be able to rejoin the main orchestra’s Violin sections during the second and third movements of the symphony. If only a conservative number of strings is available, it is suggested that three players from the Violin I section and two players from the Violin II section be assigned to the D.C. (See String Division as well as Violin Distribution in Movement 4, below.)
Harp Part in the D.C.
Properly respelled, the Harp part is possible for performance by a single harpist. The present part has been respelled and pedaled clearly, and it was checked and approved for performability by Anthony Maydwell, former principal Harpist of the Sydney Symphony.
This performance edition is mindful of the standard allotment of 8–7–6–5–4 desks in an orchestra’s total string section. Because five Violins must be dedicated to the Distant Choir in the first and fourth movements, a desk distribution of 6–6–6–5–4 has been devised (with two players per desk; any additional players should be assigned to the additional optional desks described below).
To assist the string players’ reading of Ives’s complex string divisi, the string music has been parsed into individual parts for each desk. Thus, desk 1 will read from a separate physical part than desk 2, than desk 3, etc., with six parts total for Violin I, called Desks 1–6. Likewise, there are five separate parts for the Cellos, called Desks 1–5, etc.
Some orchestras may have larger string complements than the assumed typical maximum number of string players. To account for this, the parts set includes optional string desks. These include: Violin I, Desks 7, 8, and 9; Violin II, Desks 7 and 8; Viola, Desk 7; Violoncello, Desk 6; and Contrabass, Desk 5. Care has been taken in constructing these additional desk parts to ensure that the resulting string choirs are not unbalanced in the division of materials (e.g., if Desks 7 and 8 are employed in the Violin I section, the material assigned to those desks will not unbalance the distribution of Ives’s polyphonic string writing already divided among the top six Desks).
It might occur in a university or conservatory orchestra that there are additional players beyond the maximum number of optional desks. In that case, the additional players should play from duplicates of the last numbered optional desk part (e.g., if there are twenty Violin I players, let the last physical desk—i.e., physical desk 10—play from a duplicate of the optional Violin I Desk 9 part).
If there are fewer players than the number required to fill out the minimum desk pairs (i.e., 6–6–6–5–4) in any of the sections, individual players may sit one to a desk for the lower desk parts, with two important exceptions: There must be two players playing from the Violin II Desk 6 part, and there must be two players playing from the Viola Desk 6 part. This is because those parts contain the Extra Violin and Extra Viola parts, covered below
Violin Distribution in Movement IV
In the fourth movement, Ives divides the Violins alternately into two and three large divisions, labeled Violins I, II and Violins I, II, III respectively. To facilitate the division of the Violins in and out of these large-scale divisions, the following desk assignments are employed:
When the Violins are divided into two large divisions (I, II), the standard desk division is employed: all 6 desks of the First Violins cover the Violin I parts, and all 6 desks of the Second Violins cover the Violin II parts.
When the Violins are divided into three large divisions (I, II, III), Violin I is assigned to the First Violin parts, Desks 1–4; Violin II is assigned to the Second Violin parts, Desks 1–4; and Violin III is assigned to both the First and Second Violin parts, Desks 5–6 in each case:
When three Violin divisions are in force, the full score clearly indicates in the margin how desks are assigned among the three divisions.
Additionally, the parts that play Violin III are marked as such with boxes, as shown in this Violin II Desk 5 part:
The Violin I and Violin II parts are not marked specially at these points, because they are already Violin I and II (Q.E.D.) On the other hand, the Desks that play Violin III have those sections boxed and labeled specially, as shown above. This will allow the conductor to call out Violins by their section designations in the I, II, III passages.
Note that when the additional, optional Desk parts are in use, none of them includes the Violin III music. The Violin III music and designations exist exclusively in the 5th and 6th Desk parts.
The Extra Violin II and Extra Viola Parts
Throughout the second half of the Comedy movement, Ives intermittently writes for an Extra Violin II (2 players) and an Extra Viola (1 player). In his Conductor’s Note entry on m. 142, Ives indicates that these players would be better “in back of the section or off-stage.” In keeping with this, the Extra Violin II has been assigned to the Violin II Desk 6 part and the Extra Viola has been assigned to the Viola Desk 6 part. These “Extra” parts may, in fact, be played by the players sitting at these desks on stage, but they could equally well (and to perhaps better effect) be played by distinct, spatially-separated players offstage. For that purpose, there are a set of dedicated offstage parts for the offstage (i.e., spatially-separated) players.
It would be possible for three of the Violinists of the Distant Choir to play those parts (one picking up a Viola for the job). If so, it would be advisable for those players to move to a position that would be distinct from the location of the Distant Choir. This would be essential so that they would not confuse the D.C.’s role as the “Heavenly Host” of the Prelude and Finale with the more mercurial roles of the “Extra” players in the Comedy movement. (The Extra Violin II in particular would seem to represent the machinations of Mr. Smooth-it-away in the Celestial Railroad program; the noodling musical figure always played by the Extra Violin II is apparently a variant of the syrupy Mr. Smooth-it-away theme played by the Violins in m. 146. Likewise, the Extra Viola would seem to represent one of the pilgrims from the Hawthorne story.)
Important for execution of the “Extra” music is the set of four bells that reinforce the structural tones of the Extra Violin II part during the “Vanity Fair” section (mm. 149–161). The four bells must be located near Extra Violin II for coordination purposes. If the part is played offstage (i.e., spatially-separated), it would not be necessary to have an additional percussionist present: the second of the two Extra Violin II players could easily play the Bells part during this passage, since only one of the two violin players is required to play the “Extra” music during this section.
The Violin II Desk 6 and Viola Desk 6 parts are clearly marked to indicate when the “Extra” music is being played, and if offstage players are employed (who would be reading from the dedicated offstage “Extra” parts), the onstage players will then know when not to play.
The Extra Violin II music is found in mm. 142–161, 168–180, 194–199, 207–210, 216–224, and 237–264. The Extra Viola music is found in mm. 149–161.
High Bells / Low Bells
Ives specifies that the Bells are to be of “a continuous scale and of like quality.” Written at pitch, the complete range of the Bells is problematic, for it traverses six octaves.
Neither Glockenspiel nor Chimes is appropriate. Glockenspiel sounds 15ma and therefore cannot reach the lower two octaves of the High Bells part; similarly, Chimes begin at middle “C” and cannot reach the lower two octaves of the Low Bells part. Also, these instruments do not share the same timbre, a requirement of the total part.
A solution has been provided with the rental materials: a six-octave bell realization for electronic keyboard. It fulfills Ives’s timbral and range requirements perfectly, and it carries the added advantage that the dynamic range can be modified easily. The part requires a single skilled keyboardist, but an assistant player with only minimal keyboard skills is needed in Movement IV, mm. 65–71. This might be covered by a percussionist who is tacet there to the end (e.g., the Triangle player).
On the other hand, in Movement II, for the duet between the Extra Violin II and the Low Bells in the “Vanity Fair” section (mm. 149–161), a set of 4 suspended handbells would be ideal: they may be placed near the Violin player—therefore allowing coordination between the two instruments—and their sonic projection is not a problem in the thin texture of that section.
Nb: Attention is required to ensure that important melodies in the High Bell sound through the texture (e.g., Comedy mm. 112–114, 115–122, 123–135, 173–177; Finale mm. 40–49, 65–71). At pitch, they may not project. Therefore, these may need to be played on Glockenspiel (in spite of timbral dissimilarity) with the resulting pitches sounding 8va or 15ma so that they may be audible (cf. Celesta Tessitura, below).
The distinction between the gong, which has a definite tuning and produces great reverberation, and the tam-tam, whose tuning is indefinite and produces an even sound, is recent in Western Composition. It is essential to understand that throughout the nineteenth century and into the first half of the twentieth, the terms “gong” and “tam-tam” were used interchangeably, however always in reference to the tam-tam. In Ives’s day, two forms of this instrument were regularly imported to the West from China: the large ceremonial tam-tam that figures in orchestral and operatic works going back to the time of Berlioz, and the smaller, more ornamental dinner gong that was a common feature in many Victorian households. These would likely be the Heavy Gong and Light Gong, respectively, that Ives scores in the Comedy movement. Correspondingly, the large tam-tam would be the Gong in the BU of the Finale (although a medium tam-tam would work better in that movement; its forte (f) strokes in the crescendo-decrescendo cycles would be less likely to overwhelm the occasionally delicate music of the OU—see Dynamic Swell in the BU, below). Note, however, that under no circumstance should the reverberant, Indonesian-style gong (the “nipple gong”) be used for any of these parts, as that instrument was unknown to American orchestras at the time Ives composed the Fourth Symphony.
Ives writes for a Native American (not Asian) “Indian Drum” in the percussion of the Comedy and in the BU group of the Finale. Past performances of the Fourth Symphony have employed a wide range of vastly different instruments for this part, so it is perhaps wise to consider a precise definition for this instrument. According to Andrew Stiller in his Handbook of Instrumentation:
The Indian Drum is a double-headed drum without raised rims. More important, the heads are quite loose and are attached to the shell by tacks or lashings, making the drum difficult, if not impossible to tune. The drum is usually small and less deep than wide; despite that it is typically as low in pitch as the tenor drum—or lower—because of the looseness of the head. The sound of the drum is dark and ‘tubby’ with a rapid decay… (pp. 157–158)
A small to medium Pow Wow Drum would therefore be a reasonable instrument to employ for this part.
In the Fourth Symphony manuscripts, Ives indicates in places that the Celesta part should sound at the written pitch. This perhaps stems from his concern about sonic projection and his fears about instruments drowning out one another (see the separate section Dynamics, below).
In the Celesta part, the music is presented as Ives wrote it, with resulting pitches sounding an octave higher than written. If the Celesta is to sound at the written pitch, as Ives suggests in some places in the MS, then the whole part would need to be played an octave lower than written. The problem there is that when sounding at written pitch, the Celesta will become completely inaudible in Ives’s thick orchestral textures. It is therefore unadvisable for the Celesta part to be played an octave lower. Playing the part as written, sounding an octave higher than notated, allows the part to project and to be audible.
The Quarter-tone Piano mixes quarter-tones and regular tones. Thus, it cannot be played by a piano that is simply tuned up by a quarter-tone. So that the Quarter-tone Piano part may be played by a single player, the present performance edition supplies a scordatura part and tuning chart, in which the notes required by the Quarter-tone Piano are mapped to unique keys on a standard keyboard. The part is in turn renotated to match those key mappings. Either a standard acoustic piano adjusted to the scordatura tuning or an electronic keyboard will work. (The set of parts includes a patch of the scordatura tuning that may be used with electronic instruments; please consult the publisher for more information.)
A separate but equally important question is who should play the Quarter-tone Piano part. If a dedicated player is not available, the Secondo Orchestra pianist may easily take this part in the opening measures of the Comedy movement (mm. 8 & 15) and throughout the Finale (mm. 32, 34, 72–84). But problematic is the exposed passage in the Comedy movement, measures 217–224. Because both Orchestra Pianists play in the measures directly before and after this passage, it is impossible for either of them to play this passage without dropping the surrounding material (i.e., m. 216 on one side, and potentially several measures beginning with m. 225 on the other).
The music bookending mm. 217–224 is loud, cacophonic, and for full orchestra, so it may be acceptable to allow one of the Orchestra Piano players to drop the surrounding measures in order to move to and from the Quarter-tone keyboard. (This would be cheating, in a sense, but it is doubtful that the absence of that player’s music would be detectable in the thick texture of those passages.)
However, there is a better solution that allows all the music of the Orchestra Piano part to be retained: The Organist may move to the Scordatura Keyboard and play mm. 217–224 (as well as the measures at the beginning of the Comedy, for that matter). This is possible within the music of the Symphony because the Organ does not play until a good two minutes into the following movement (Fugue, m. 45). This provides ample time for the Organ player to return to the Organ for its first entrance. However, this is only possible if there is a clear and easy physical path between the Scordatura keyboard and the Organ, and thus it depends in part on the layout of the hall (as well as on the mobility of the Organist).
Following this solution, therefore, the Organist would play the Quarter-tone Piano during the Comedy and the Secondo Orchestra Pianist would play it in the Finale.
In the late 1920s, Ives took interest in the original electronic instruments by Leon Theremin. Apparently inspired by their sonic possibilities, Ives annotated the MS scores to Three Places in New England, Orchestral Set No. 2, and the Fourth Symphony with optional doublings of various instruments by “Mr. Theremin’s Ether Organ.” It had long been assumed that this name was Ives’s colorful term for the space-controlled Theremin, the most popular and successful instrument invented by Leon Theremin. Recent research has revealed that the “Ether Organ” was actually the Keyboard Harmonium: a large, somewhat unwieldy keyboard instrument, each of whose keys operated a separate Theremin. Ives perhaps saw in the keyboard control of this instrument the possibility of precise pitch control as well, and perhaps then chose to reference it—not the conventional space-controlled Theremin—when annotating his manuscripts.
In the Fourth Symphony, Ives suggests that the Ether Organ reinforce the Cornet part in the second movement (mm. 200–20, 213–216) and that it reinforce various instruments throughout the fourth movement (mm. 7–10, 27–28, 32–34, 65–76). These appear in the full score and in a dedicated Ether Organ part.
But what instrument should play this part? Notice in the Finale the rapid, cross-octave triplet in measure 8 and the quarter tones in measures 32 and 34. These are passages that could be executed easily and accurately on an Ondes Martenot, but would be difficult or impossible to execute with good intonation on a space-controlled Theremin. The Ondes Martenot is an ideal instrument for the Ether Organ part: It is keyboard operated, thus allowing for precise intonation (something often quite problematic for the standard space-controlled Theremin), and it can produce quarter tones through use of its slider and ribbon.
Optional Harp in Comedy
In mm. 218, 220, and 222 of the Comedy, Ives specifies that a Harp may replace the Primo Orchestra Piano in those measures, should it be replacing the Quarter-tone Piano in mm. 217–224. It is extraordinarily doubtful that a performance of the Fourth Symphony would be mounted without including a Quarter-tone keyboard, so it is unlikely the ossia would be played at all here, and thus no provision for a Harp in the Comedy has been made in the Harp part (which, of course, is specific to the spatially-separated D.C. in the Prelude and Finale; Ives’s ossia would seem to require a different, onstage Harp).
Quarter-tone and Optional Notes in D.C. Harp
There is a single quarter-tone chord in the Harp in m. 49 of the Finale. This could only be played by a second, assistant harpist with a specially-tuned harp in the D.C. group, a luxury no performance should go to any length to accommodate. However, a second player could, in fact, play the optional da'+aa' dyads in mm. 45–57, which would provide additional music for the player to perform. On the off chance that a second harp is available, the tuning requirements for the quarter-tone chord are provided in the Harp part along with text identifying the location of the optional, regular-tone dyads.
Placement of the Pianos
As in a piano concerto, the Solo Piano should be at the front of the orchestra, either directly behind or in front of the conductor. The Orchestra Piano should be separated from the Solo Piano by a significant distance on the stage. (See the entry on mm. 3–5 in Ives’s Conductor’s Note.) To aid in sonic projection, the lid of the Solo Piano should either be removed entirely or propped open (depending on its location behind or in front of the conductor). The lid of the Orchestra Piano should be removed entirely, or else its sound will be lost within the orchestra.
For the 1929 edition of the second movement, Ives used square-shaped notes to indicate quarter-tones. Modern notational practice for quarter-tones is not uniform, but it typically employs accidentals with arrows. However, arrowed accidentals prove difficult to recognize in passages where quarter-tones and regular tones alternate in quick succession (e.g., the “Beulah Land” section in movement II, mm. 217–224). For complete clarity, the Performance Score and the parts employ a square-shaped notehead and an arrowed accidental for each quarter-tone note.
In movements I, II, and IV, some parts in the full score are footnoted to indicate that they have two different notations in the corresponding parts: the original notation, as presented in the full score, and an analytical renotation that may help the player parse the rhythm correctly.
See the separate section Alternative Notations in the Parts for complete notational reproductions of these passages. The conductor may or may not wish to rely on them for performance purposes, depending on the difficulty of the rhythmic translation, and instead employ an assistant conductor or another conducting tactic.
Ives’s dynamics should not be taken too literally. In the Distant Choir especially, it is often unclear whether the stated dynamic is the perceived volume of the part, given its spatial separation from the main orchestra, or the dynamic the instrument must play unto itself.
Complicating matters is the use of the lettered “Prominence Indicators” employed in the second movement (see Prominence (Proximity) Indicators, below). In all cases, Ives intended the Prominence Indicators to signify the spatial separation of instruments from the audience. At times, this is to improve the projection of individual dynamics; at other times, it is intended to create the effect of the stated volume at the implied distance (e.g., the effect of loud music at a great distance). The distinction is not always clear, and thus it should be a matter of interpretation by the conductor.
Perhaps because of his experience with smaller ensembles (e.g., theatre orchestras), Ives was often overly concerned with the sonic projection of certain instruments. For example, Ives is repeatedly concerned that the Flute not drown out the strings(!) The conductor should be wary that Ives’s understanding of the projection of instruments in a symphony orchestra may have been imperfect, and thus his dynamics and verbal instructions may require tempering on a case-by-case basis.
Prominence (Proximity) Indicators
Encircled letters in the second movement indicate the distance from the audience where the affected parts should sound. Ives added these to the score after he heard the first and second movements on a concert on January 29, 1927, performed by a scaled-down orchestra of just 50 players.
Ives was fascinated by the way that an instrument sounds differently when it is played at different volumes at different distances. The application of the physical “Prominence Indicators” in the second movement is his most explicit and complex experiment in that regard. There are seven distances, signified by the letters A through G.
A complete realization of this aspect of the score would require enormous forces (several hundred players, in fact: because the physical distance for a given part changes every few measures, a duplicate player would be required at each prescribed distance). The take-away: For a standard performance, these indications should be ignored, except perhaps for understanding Ives’s desired quality of the perceived sound at a given moment. (Please understand that, for Ives, f at distance G is not the same as pp at distance A. See The Meaning of Ives’s “Conductor’s Note” Essay.)
The “Collapse Section” and Other Non-synchronized Temporal Effects
Several passages in the symphony divide the orchestra into different groups that either (1) play at a tempo that is a fixed ratio of the main orchestra’s tempo or (2) play at an independent, unrelated tempo. In order of presentation in the score:
The Distant Choir in Movement I, mm. 5–26
In this passage, the D.C. continues the tempo it established in m. 4, repeating the material if it reaches m. 26 before the Main Orchestra does. Judicious cueing or an assistant conductor will facilitate this passage.
The First Page of Movement II
There are three events to consider here:
(A) The Bassoons play two measures of &4against the five measures of ^8in the main orchestra. The Bassoon players should be able to execute this alone—with the first Bassoon acting as the leader of the duet—once a good tempo can be established that allows them to finish the passage with the rest of the orchestra.
(B) Starting at m. 3, the Solo Piano must subdivide 5 unique measures against 3 measures in the main orchestra, accelerating and decelerating as it plays.
(C) The Basses are not synchronized with the Main Orchestra, and their material “controls the page” (as Ives writes in the Conductor’s Note), with one player acting as leader. The graphical alignment of the Basses in the full score is misleading, because after the Main Orchestra reaches the fermata at the end of m. 5, the Basses should still be sounding their music. For this reason, it is essential for the Basses to play at a slower rate than the Main Orchestra (perhaps t=65–70) so that they do not finish first. A slow, tremoloed, whole-tone glissando in the Basses then leads the Orchestra to the downbeat of the next page.
The music of the Basses parses into 3, and the notation here employs dotted barlines to help coordinate the players. The Bass music is cued in the Cello part, following Ives’s suggestion in his Conductor’s Note. If Cellos are used, the Assistant Conductor should be employed to set the tempo and coordinate the two sections.
Movement II, mm. 37–38
Clarinets, Trumpet 1, Trombones, Secondo Orchestra Piano, Indian Drum, and Solo Piano perform through the first quarter note (t) of m. 38 in the same tempo as the previous measure, resynchronizing with the main orchestra immediately thereafter.
The “Collapse Section”: Movement II, mm. 43–51
In this section, the orchestra divides into an Upper Orchestra Allegro in $4(comprising winds, brass, pianos, and timpani) and a Lower Orchestra Adagio in #2(comprising the remaining percussion and strings). Initially, the Allegro $4measure = the Adagio #2measure, with $4t = 66.66 and the #2y=50. (Notice: triplets within the t=66.66 tempo articulate a 3+3+2 rhythm in which the triplet t=100, wherein the Allegro truly resides.) Two measures later, at m. 45, the Allegro begins to accelerate to t=126, all the while the Adagio of the Lower Orchestra holds its tempo. Eventually the Upper Orchestra “collapses” its m. 51 some time before the Lower Orchestra plays its m. 51. The two groups resynchronize without pause in m. 52. The engraving of the score graphically illustrates the initial synchrony and eventual dyssychrony of the two groups.
A second conductor will facilitate execution of this section, although a well-rehearsed Lower Orchestra may be able to sustain its own tempo so that a single conductor might lead the Upper Orchestra during this passage. However, a single conductor would then be challenged to locate his place in the Lower Orchestra’s material to resume conducting. (This is an example of a passage where a second conductor might be necessary, and the visual drama of two conductors may create a more exciting performance than a tour-de-force by a single conductor.)
There is one additional complication to this passage: When the Upper Orchestra “collapses” in m. 51, the Basses in the Lower Orchestra must jump ahead to their own m. 51. They must then sustain the tremoloed chord in m. 51 until the rest of the Lower Orchestra catches up with them, at which point they synchronize with the Lower Orchestra. Therefore, the conductor of the Upper Orchestra must cue the Basses when the Upper Orchestra reaches m. 51, and the conductor of the Lower Orchestra must cue them again when the Lower Orchestra reaches m. 52 so that the Basses may then resynchronize.
Battle of the Triplet Groups: Movement II, mm. 55–58
A single conductor may be sufficient for this passage, but care should be taken to clarify the music to the groups so that they understand the material they are executing. The Performance Score divides the instruments into a Main Orchestra and three groups: Group 1 performs a triplet pattern on the main beat; Group 2 performs the same triplet pattern offset by an eighth rest (R); Group 3 performs the same pattern offset by a sixteenth rest (E). It will perhaps be easiest to rehearse each group separately, having each play its part as though it were on the beat, then perform the part offset by the proper amount. (A strong, metronomic beat from a drum may facilitate separate rehearsals of the individual Groups.) Each part indicates to which “Group” its instrument belongs, so instruments may be referenced by Group number during rehearsals.
Movement II, mm. 115–122
The orchestra here is temporally synchronized, but two distinct subunits are articulated: The main group plays a treatment of In the Sweet Bye and Bye in a repeating period of 11 eighth beats (r). For convenience in coordinating with the other players, however, this is notated in %8. Simultaneously, a group of approximately 20 players play contrasting material that divides into two large beats for every %8measure of the other group. Two conductors will be effective for this section. A single conductor may negotiate this by rehearsing the two groups separately, then employing a common beat pattern (perhaps 2) for the full orchestra. Each part indicates to which beat-pattern group an instrument belongs, “in 2” or “in 5.” Additionally, the parts in 5 have an alternative translation in 2 (difficult).
Slowing of the Train Wheels: Movement II, mm. 141–145
Ives depicts the train coming to rest at Vanity Fair by a technique opposite of what might be expected: Saxophone, Bassoon, and Percussion maintain the tempo of m. 141 and dissipate within that tempo (i.e., dropping notes until nothing is left) while the main orchestra decelerates independently. While the Percussion may be able to coordinate as a group here, it will be difficult for the Saxophone, Bassoon, and Extra Violin II (discussed separately below) to coordinate with the Percussion without help from a second conductor.
Extra Violin II: Movement II, mm. 142–161
The Extra Violin II (2 players) joins the “Strict Tempo” group of Saxophone, Bassoon, and Percussion at m. 142 (i.e., one measure after the others) and continues that tempo into the “Vanity Fair” section (1 player only, mm. 146–161). Through m. 145 it is synchronized with the “Strict Tempo” group, and thus may follow a second conductor leading that group, but, starting with m. 146 (i.e., its own m. 146), it continues playing at the same strict tempo, independently of the main orchestra.
Poco Tenuto Fermata in the Comedy, m. 148
The poco tenuto fermata in the Comedy at m. 148 is a caesura for all instruments except the Extra Violin II; in that way, the rotating figure of the Violin is fully exposed for a few seconds (from its position on or offstage; see The Extra Violin II and Extra Viola Parts above for more information). A pause of about 3 seconds should be sufficient to execute the effect.
Extra Violin II and Low Bells: Movement II, mm. 149–161
Just after the initial flourish in the Solo Piano part at m. 149, the Low Bells must enter and coordinate with the Extra Violin II. (A cue from the conductor will be needed.) The Low Bells simply articulate the low structural tones of the Extra Violin II part in its pattern of 5 sixteenth notes. It is essential here that a special set of Low Bells (only the 4 pitches needed) be placed near the Extra Violin II player so that the two players may coordinate the combined part.
A set of four hung handbells struck lightly with a mallet should suffice for this part. If the Extra Violin II part is being played onstage, there is time for the Bells player to walk to this set before this passage and then back to the main set afterwards. If the Extra Violin II part is being played by offstage players, the Extra Violin II player who is not playing during this passage may play the Bells, thus eliminating the need for a percussionist to travel to their location. (See the earlier entries High Bells/Low Bells and The Extra Violin II and Extra Viola Parts.)
#2vs. $4: Movement II, mm. 200–207 & mm. 211–216
In these sections, half the players play in 3 while the other half play in 4. While two conductors would be effective here (as well as dramatic), independent rehearsal of each group might allow execution by a single conductor, although no common beat pattern could support the rhythmic intricacies of many of the parts (e.g., the nested triplets of the #2Viola writing in mm. 200–207 cannot be resolved to $4).
Extra Violin II: Movement II, mm. 217–224
The Extra Violin II here plays approximately 5 of its quarters (t) to the ^8 bar, but not exactly, and so it performs independently of the main orchestra. It should repeat its pattern through the end of m. 224.
Primo Orchestra Piano: Movement II, mm. 250–254
The Primo player repeats its figure of m. 250 faster and faster until it is twice its original speed by m. 253; it is rather essential that the player be cued at m. 254 so that it may synchronize with the main orchestra.
The BU Percussion in Movement IV
The relationship between the BU and OU in movement IV is discussed below in the main section entry, BU vs. OU: Tempos in Movement IV.
Orchestra Piano in Movement IV, mm. 29–31
Here the Orchestra Piano plays a subdivided pattern of 8 eighth notes (r) against every dotted half (y.) in the main orchestra. While an additional conductor might be helpful, it may be simpler to have the player listen for the dotted-half (y.) beat pattern established by the Trumpet in m. 29 and simply continue the subdivided pattern independently. A physical cue to the Orchestra Piano player at the start of m. 32 to cease playing will facilitate recoordination.
Orchestra Piano in Movement IV, mm. 40–44
The Primo Orchestra Piano here plays the quartuplet quarter values (t) of mm. 40–44 in the same time as the dotted quarter notes (t.) of m. 39 and previous measures. Because of this, the Orchestra Piano is, in fact, playing with the BU in an exact t=t relationship. However, the upbeats of the Orchestra Piano are the downbeats of the BU, and vice versa, so the player cannot simply look at the beat pattern of the BU conductor.
It will be simplest for the Orchestra Piano player to extend the tempo of dotted quarter notes (t.) in m. 39 to the quartuplet quarters in mm. 40–44, and play independently through m. 44. In other words, the dotted quarter (t.) of m. 39 becomes the quartuplet quarter (t) of m. 40; the player only needs to think of the dotted quarter in m. 39 as a triplet quarter, and then employ that value for the triplet quarters within the quartuplets of m. 40.
Alternatively, a rhythmic cue line showing the relationship of the beats of the Main Orchestra to the beats of the Orchestra Piano is provided in the full score and in the part. (See the full score here for illustration.)
A physical cue for the Orchestra Piano player at m. 45 (at its change of meter to #2) will facilitate recoordination with the Main Orchestra.
#2 vs. $2: Movement IV, mm. 59–63
Here the Flutes, Oboes, Clarinets, and Violins play in #2against the $2of the rest of the Orchestra. The #2parts contain the original notation as well as an ossia translation into $2(difficult). Because reading these rhythms in #2is much easier, this passage would benefit from an assistant conductor to help coordinate the #2instruments.
BU vs. OU: Tempos in Movement IV
BU is perhaps an acronym for “Basic Unit,” because of similar language used in Ives’s Universe Symphony manuscripts, and OU is most likely an acronym for “Orchestra Unit.” Ives works out the tempo relationships between the OU and the BU with mathematical precision in the manuscript sources to the fourth movement. There are no approximations, miscalculations, or missteps in his computations. Additionally, the music in the BU is dynamic, changing in intensity with the changes of mood and character in the OU (e.g., Indian Drum mm. 27–31 and mm. 59–63). The following conclusion is therefore incontrovertible and must be addressed:
Ives intended the tempo ratios between the OU and BU in the fourth movement to obtain throughout. Thus, it is centrally important to the execution of this movement either for the OU to follow the BU or the BU to follow the OU. In either case, the indicated proportions in the full score must obtain, and two conductors working in tandem are therefore indispensable.
The two ensembles “float” in relationship to one another by virtue of a temporal dyssynchrony that is actually proportionately related throughout, but which occasionally brings the two ensembles into synchronization (e.g., mm. 35–39 and mm. 72–88). The result is temporal poetry that follows a rondo form (ABACABA) reminiscent of the bridge forms of Bartók. This “Temporal Rondo” is therefore the backbone of the movement—central to its conception and its structure—and must be respected.
If the OU is to follow the BU, then the following proportions would be used by the OU:
|Rondo Section Letter||Measure Span||OU Tempo as Proportion of BU|
|A:||mm. 1–23:||OU = BU x 11⁄2|
|B:||mm. 24–26:||OU = BU x 2|
|A:||mm. 27–39:||OU = BU x 11⁄2|
|C:||mm. 40–49:||OU = BU x 11⁄4|
|A:||mm. 50–63:||OU = BU x 11⁄2|
|B:||m. 64:||OU = BU x 2|
|A:||mm. 65–71:||OU = BU x 11⁄2|
|A':||mm. 72–88:||OU = BU|
If the BU is to follow the OU (a more reasonable interpretive decision, given the romantic nature of the music of the OU, which lends itself to agogic phrasing), then the following proportions would be used by the BU in the rondo:
|Rondo Section Letter||Measure Span||BU Tempo as Proportion of OU|
|A:||mm. 1–23:||BU = OU x 2⁄3|
|B:||mm. 24–26:||BU = OU x 1⁄2|
|A:||mm. 27–39:||BU = OU x 2⁄3|
|C:||mm. 40–49:||BU = OU x 4⁄5|
|A:||mm. 50–63:||BU = OU x 2⁄3|
|B:||m. 64:||BU = OU x 1⁄2|
|A:||mm. 65–71:||BU = OU x 2⁄3|
|A':||mm. 72–88:||OU = BU|
As in the case of the Distant Choir (of five Violins and Harp), the spatial separation of the BU from the OU is central to the presentation of the music. The location of the BU should allow two conductors to maintain visual contact throughout the movement.
For simplicity, the Performance Score assumes a fixed tempo for the BU at y=40 with correlative tempos for the OU at each new section in the rondo. However, the proportion ratios in the two charts provided above are provided at each juncture in the movement, so the related tempos betweeen the two ensembles may be easily derived regardless of whether the OU is following the BU or (more likely) the BU is following the OU.
Additionally, to facilitate the BU’s coordination with the OU, encircled Roman numerals I–V have been placed in the full score and in the individual BU parts at important measures where the downbeats between the two groups coincide. The conductor of the BU may therefore signal with the fingers of the hand where the BU should jump to, should the BU get ahead or behind the OU when the OU arrives at those measures. The measures and their Roman numerals are:
|Measure Number||Roman Numeral|
Alternate Snare Drum Part: Movement IV, mm. A–G
The first seven measures of the Finale are optional and are lettered A through G. Ives originally scored this movement to begin with the present measure 1, with the BU and the Contrabasses playing together from the start. Ives then changed his mind, and decided that the BU percussion could optionally play its seven measure cycle alone at the beginning of the movement, without the Basses, followed by a repetition of the entire percussion with the Basses. Ives made no provision for how the measures should be renumbered to account for this. Therefore, this edition designates the opening solo percussion pattern as optional measures A through G.
Ives’s repeat creates a problem, however. The Percussion cycle is seven measures long, except for the Snare Drum: its cycle is a half rest longer than the cycles of the other instruments. Repeating the first seven measures twice will therefore result in the Snare Drum losing a beat of its cycle between the first and second pages of the movement.
If resolving this is important for the conductor, the Alternate Snare Drum Part is a tenable solution. It is a shifting of the Snare Drum’s first seven measures so that it does not “hiccup” in the transition from page 101 to page 102 of the full score. Beware, though, that the first two beats of the Snare Drum cycle have been dropped entirely to accomplish this, so the part therefore begins mid-cycle.
Dynamic Swell in the BU
The initial crescendo swell in the BU in the fourth movement is apparently desired for the entire movement (evidence for this is found in the oblong MS score). This performance edition realizes the crescendo and decrescendo wedges throughout the full score and the parts, placing them below the Gong staff with the intention that they properly apply to the entire BU section.
Care must be taken to attenuate the dynamics, however. In many cases, the forte (f) midpoint of the BU cycle matches structural high points in the music of the OU where its music is loud. In other cases, the forte midpoint of the BU works against the character of the OU music where it is soft. It is likely that Ives did not consider these occasional clashes of character, and so the conductor might instruct the BU to reduce its dynamic swell according to the nature of the OU music on a passage-by-passage basis.
To assist with this, the forte midpoints in the BU cycle that might conflict with the music of the OU are bracketed in the full score and parts with accompanying footnotes, each advising a possible reduction of the dynamic.
Thrush Calls: Movement IV
In mm. 32–33, m. 64, and m. 72, the upper winds play quick figures that are marked “Thrush.” These are imitations of the Thrush, a bird whose trilling call Ives would have heard frequently in New England (the Hermit Thrush, for example, is the State Bird of Vermont). It is essential that the figures be played quickly, so that they sound like a bird call. Editorial fluttertongues have been added to the final note of each three-note figure to imitate the Thrush’s trill.
Notice that in m. 32–33 the Thrush calls—Ives’s invocation of nature—and the interjection by the Distant Choir—the “Heavenly Host”—complete the directive of the final measures of the third movement, in which the Trombone quotes from Antioch (“Joy To The World”), “Let Heaven and Nature Sing...”
Tempo Malfunction in the Comedy, m. 29
In the Comedy, starting at m. 19 and running through m. 34 is a gradual accelerando from r=50 to t=108–116. This apparently represents the initial acceleration of the locomotive in the Celestial Railroad program, climaxing with the train whistles in the winds at mm. 34–35. Between the initial and final tempo indications, Ives designates increasingly faster metronome markings, with t=60–66 at m. 25, t=84–88 at m. 29, and t=92–96 at m. 32. Problematic to the these speeds is the equation r=r at m. 29. The previous measure—a ^8bar of t.=60–66—is equivalently at t=90–99. If r=r, then at m. 29 the tempo would be t=90–99, not the stated t=84–88, which would be in error. This faster tempo would also surpass the t=92–96 of m. 32, which creates a temporal conundrum. Ives’s math is typically very good, and so this tempo miscalculation is cause for concern.
The tempo of the ^8measure is derived from the equation t=t. between it and the previous measure, where the triplet sixteenths of m. 27 become regular sixteenths of m. 28. There is little to doubt in this equation, as the musical figures are identical between the two measures. The metrical shift from duple time to compound time seems merely a notational shorthand.
But this ^8bar was originally a @4bar in the MS development of the passage, with the sixteenth groups originally written as sextuplets. Notice the quartuplet in the Viola in the second half of the measure: it leads directly into the new pattern in the $8bar that follows (m. 29). The r=r indication would therefore appear to be a hold-over from the original @4notation of measure 28, and thus would be an error of commission here.
The most likely reading is t.=t between m. 28 and m. 29. That supports the specified metronome markings of Ives, and it allows a smooth transition of the Viola line from one measure to the next. However, it will effect a slowing of the eighths between the measures, and therefore compromise the sixteenths of the Piano lines therein. A third consideration is the effect on the Contrabasses from mm. 25–30. If they are read through for rhythmic effect, what may sound in isolation as sudden duplets in the $8measure (compared with the triplets of the previous ^8measure) may in context seem to grow naturally from the jagged rhythmic pattern that has come before.
Therefore, the conductor has two choices:
(1) Follow the r=r equation at m. 29, which will rapidly accelerate the tempo in favor of the sixteenths in the Pianos, or:
(2) Let t.=t at m. 29, which will conform to the stated metronomic acceleration and favor the sixteenths of the Viola (which become the dominant melodic line through the subsequent measures).
Solo Piano and Celesta Interaction at End of Prelude
A subtle orchestration detail is found in the interaction of the Celesta and Solo Piano in mm. 39–40 of the Prelude. The Celesta may optionally double the melody here. If so, the Solo Piano should not play the final notes of the melody, except perhaps the final Ck, which it may or may not retain. (Perforce: the instruction in the Celesta for the last note states, “Not if Piano plays Ck”.) If that note is played by the Piano, it should not be played by the Celesta. Because Ives’s intention here is easily misunderstood, the following footnote appears in the Solo Piano part:
It would be helpful to clarify this interaction for the two players and ensure that the passage is executed correctly.
Quarter-tone Piano Drop-out
In the Quarter-tone Piano part, over the last eighth note of m. 221 in the Comedy, Ives writes, “simile, but gradually leaving out intermediate notes.” From that point forward, Ives omits the previous noodlings of the right hand part and instead only writes its major structural tones for the player. To clarify Ives’s easily-overlooked intentions here, an editorial footnote has been added to the part that reads, “In other words, continue playing the preceding right-hand pattern, but randomly and increasingly drop notes out of the pattern until only the indicated structural tones remain.” It would be wise to check with the player to ensure that the passage is executed correctly.
Where Does the “Collapse” Occur?
Where the Upper Orchestra comes to rest in the “Collapse Section” is a truly valid technical consideration for crafting a musically effective performance of the passage. If the Upper Orchestra finishes far before its graphical location in the score, the resulting exposure and extension of the Lower Orchestra’s music may prove tedious to listeners. On the other hand, if the Upper Orchestra finishes later than its graphical location in the score, the intended reposeful intermission from turmoil will seem too brief. It is therefore worthwhile to examine this section in terms of the mathematics of the accelerando of the Upper Orchestra and where it should logically arrive. From this we may draw conclusions about what liberties the conductor has for executing the passage a piacere as well as strictly, i.e., following the stated tempos exactly.
From mm. 43–51 the Lower Orchestra plays nine measures of #2at y=50. Simultaneously, the Upper Orchestra plays nine measures in $4, where the first two measures equal the duration of those in the Lower Orchestra. Thus the Upper Orchestra begins at t=66.66 (Ives works out this math explicitly in the manuscripts, although he writes “about 66” for the quarter.) But then, starting at m. 45, the Upper Orchesta gradually accelerates to t=126, finishing in advance of the Lower Orchestra when it reaches m. 51. There is an indication for the Upper Orchestra at m. 50 that it should reach “(up to t=126)”; this could mean that the tempo of t=126 should be reached by that measure, or it could mean that the tempo should be reached by the end of the next measure (i.e., the last measure of the passage), or somewhere in between.
The Lower Orchestra’s nine measures of #2at y=50 from mm. 43–51 run 32.4" in duration. 32.4" is thus the total duration of the passage. However, the dyssynchrony extends over the latter seven measures of the passage. We must therefore discount the first two measures, where measure=measure between the Upper and Lower Orchestras. The seven measures from mm. 45–51 are the subject of our subsequent analysis.
The Lower Orchestra’s seven measures of #2at y=50 runs 25.2" in duration. Over those seven measures, the Upper Orchestra accelerates its temporally equivalent $4t=66.66 to t=126. The arrival point for MM 126 stated by Ives is either at the beginning of m. 50 or (in an extreme case) at the end of m. 51.
So, if an evenly-spread acceleration from t=66.66 to t=126 is to run across all seven measures—i.e., reaching 126 on the last quarter beat of m. 51, thus a total of 28 quarter beats—the resulting music will run 18.07" in duration. This is computed assuming a constant, even addition of 2.1977 metronome units per beat across the accelerando. (While this calculation may seem exacting, the resulting time that results from it should not be largely different than what will naturally transpire when the passage is conducted in live performance.)
By contrast, if the acceleration is to terminate at the first beat of m. 50—i.e., reaching MM 126 on the first quarter beat of m. 50—the result for just those five measures (mm. 45–49) is 13.08". The remaining eight quarter beats (mm. 50–51) at t=126 is 3.8", so the total duration for the seven measures of the Upper Orchestra in this case is 16.88".
Thus, the “collapse” should run approximately between 16.88" and 18.07". But where is that in relationship to the y=50 Largo of the Lower Orchestra?
At y=50, 16.88" is 28.12 t beats (or 14.06 y beats) along the seven final measures.
At y=50, 18.07" is 30.1 t beats (or 15.05 y beats) along the seven final measures.
Counting from the downbeat of m. 45, this would make the final beat of the “collapse” of the Upper Orchestra occur between the second and third y of m. 49 in the Lower Orchestra. In real terms, this simply means:
The “collapse” should occur during m. 49 of the Lower Orchestra.
It is interesting that Ives’s instruction to the Basses to “jump” to their tremolo at the end of m. 51 occurs in m. 49 of the Lower Orchestra, precisely where the “collapse” should take place mathematically. (Ives’s math is typically good, and this example is more proof of it.)
It is reasonable, therefore, for the “collapse” to take place during m. 49 of the Lower Orchestra. The graphics of the score are intentionally set to align the two groups at that point for that reason. If the “collapse” happens earlier than m. 49, then the exposed material in the Lower Orchestra may well prove tedious to the listener after several measures. If it happens later than m. 49, then much of the intended effect will have been lost. Therefore, if during rehearsals the “collapse” does not occur in this measure, then the performance tempos should be adjusted; as we shall see, this only requires an examination of the speed chosen for the Lower Orchestra.
The static tempo of the Lower Orchestra may feel better at a different speed than y=50. To ensure that the “collapse” occurs in m. 49, the Upper Orchestra’s acceleration tempo should simply be proportional to the Lower Orchestra’s static tempo, following the ratio of Ives’s tempos (t=126 : y=50). To do this, multiply the static tempo chosen for the Lower Orchestra’s half-note by 126 and divide the result by 50. For example, if the “right” performance tempo for the Lower Orchestra’s music seems to be closer to y=60, then the accelerando of the Upper Orchestra should correspondingly reach about 151 (because 60 x 126 / 50 = 151.2).
The important thing, again, is that the result is musical. It would seem best only for the last two measures of the Lower Orchestra to sound (i.e., mm. 50–51) when the “collapse” is complete: if any more measures are heard, the exposed material may become tedious; if any fewer measures are heard, the desired effect of repose will become compromised or lost.
Where Do the Train Wheels Come to Rest?
In mm. 143–145, the Main Orchestra decelerates from a tempo between t=112–120 (first established at m. 123) down to t=96–108. Simultaneously, the Saxophone, Bassoon, Percussion, and Extra Violin II form a “static tempo” group and maintain the initial tempo (with help from an assistant conductor); they wait at the end of m. 145 for the main conductor to cue them to rejoin the Main Orchestra at the downbeat of m. 146.
Many conductors exaggerate the deceleration of the Main Orchestra here to great agogic effect, and the contrast of the “static tempo” group set in relief against such a deceleration is of great dramatic effect. However, in keeping with the previous analysis of the location of the “collapse” in the “Collapse Section,” it might prove instructive to examine precisely what occurs when Ives’s tempos are followed exactly, and what therefore might be the best interpretive response in order to obtain the greatest musical effect.
Here we are confronting a deceleration over only three measures, so the difference in endpoints will not be as extreme as in the much-longer “Collapse Section.”
Because there is a range of tempos for the beginning and for the end of the passage, there is a maximum duration and a minimum duration for the passage. The maximum duration would be a deceleration from the fastest possible speed of the initial tempo range (thus t=120) to the slowest possible speed of the ending tempo range (thus t=96.) The other extreme would be a deceleration from the slowest possible speed of the initial tempo range (thus t=112) to the fastest possible speed of the ending tempo range (thus t=108).
For the maximum duration, a deceleration from 120 to 96 spread evenly across 12 quarter notes requires a reduction of 2.18 units at each successive beat (so that 96 is the pulse of the final quarter). This will run 6.7" in performance.
For the minimum duration, a deceleration from 112 to 108 spread evenly across 12 quarter notes requires a reduction of .36 at each successive beat (so that 108 is the pulse of the final quarter). This will run 6.54" in performance.
Therefore, the three bars performed by the decelerating Main Orchestra will run between 6.54" and 6.7", if the tempos within Ives’s ranges are adopted.
The “static tempo” group will likewise run a range of durations depending on the initial tempo. If that tempo is the fastest possible speed of the initial range (t=120), then the “static” group’s music will run 6". If the tempo is the slowest possible speed of the initial range (t=112), then the “static” group’s music will run 6.42".
Therefore, the three bars performed by the “static tempo” group will run between 6" and 6.42", which is not greatly different from the time run by the Main Orchestra (i.e., between 6.54" and 6.7"). To compute where the “static tempo” group will end in relation to the Main Orchestra, you must determine how much time has elapsed at each t beat position of the main orchestra and find the location of the end of the “static tempo” group within that listing. Given an even reduction at each beat unit for the more extreme tempo reduction (from t=120 to t=96), the 6 seconds run by the “static tempo” group would end after the third quarter of m. 145 of the Main Orchestra (mathematics omitted here for brevity).
On the other hand, for the less extreme tempo reduction (from t=112 to t=108), the 6.42" seconds run by the “static tempo” group would end just after the 4th quarter of the Main Orchestra. (Again, mathematics omitted here for brevity.)
Comparing these two different scenarios and results, and using the tempo ranges provided by Ives, the “static group” will terminate somewhere between the third quarter and just after the fourth quarter of the decelerating Main Orchestra in m. 145.
It therefore might prove more dramatic to obtain a more extreme tempo reduction in the Main Orchestra than what Ives suggests so that the “static” group ends earlier than at the beat locations derived above. In the graphics of the score, the “static” group stops at the end of the first beat of the Main Orchestra’s m. 145—i.e., one and a half beats before the point where, mathematically, it should come to rest when the more extreme tempo change is employed. (Perhaps surprisingly, a deceleration from 120 to 74 would be the first possible deceleration in which the graphics of the score would match the outcome of the tempos.)
The resulting effect here is small when compared with the larger and more obvious effect of the dyssynchrony of the “Collapse Section.” However, this dyssynchrony is no less valid than the offset triplets in the “Battle of the Triplets” section, mm. 55–58. It deserves respect for it represents a temporal “shadowing” of material (to contrast with the pitch-wise “shadowing” that occurs elsewhere in the symphony and in so many other places in Ives’s music).
But what does this mean for an interpretation and execution of the passage? In brief, and as suggested at the beginning of this discussion, a exaggerated deceleration of Ives’s prescribed tempos (either slight or extreme) for the Main Orchestra will produce the greatest musical effect, as doing that will set the music of the “static tempo” group in greatest relief.
Measure Numbers and Rehearsal Numbers
Each movement in the Critical Edition and in the Performance Score uses standard measure numbers. However, because of the need to rework multi-metric passages (where, for example, 4 measures with nested multi-metrics in the Critical Edition became 8 simple measures in the Performance Score), the measure numbers are different between the two scores. It is therefore important to keep this in mind when comparing the two scores, and especially important to use the Critical Edition only for scholarly reference, not for rehearsal or performance purposes.
The Critical Edition retains the boxed rehearsal numbers that Ives applied to the first and second movements, and they are carried over into the Performance Score. However, to avoid confusion between rehearsal numbers and measure numbers (e.g., rehearsal 12 is at measure 65), the letter A is prefixed to the rehearsal numbers in movement one (thus [A1] [A2] [A3] etc.) and the letter R is prefixed to those in movement 2 (thus [R1] [R2] [R3] etc.) Therefore rehearsal [R12] is at measure 65, etc. The letter R is chosen for movement 2 instead of B so as not to conflict with prominence letter B; see the earlier entry on Prominence (Proximity) Indicators.
Footnote Sigla Conventions in the Full Score
There are three different types of sigla used in the Full Score: (1) Sigla for original editorial comments, (2) sigla for the alternative notations found in the players’ parts (and reproduced in full for the conductor in the dedicated essay later in the forward), and (3) sigla for Ives’s own Conductor’s Note for the second movement.
Because of their shape and because they are both dark and filled-in, star-shaped asterisks (★) are easily spotted on a page compared with the more commonly used flower-shaped asterisks (*). This makes star-shaped asterisks an ideal glyph for original editorial comments throughout the full score. However, the 1929 publication of the Comedy movement used them to reference entries in Ives’s Conductor’s Note, and thus they were used for that purpose in the Critical Edition of the Fourth Symphony on which this Performance Score is based.
So that the Performance Score matches the Critical Edition in this respect, the following typographic convention has been followed in the full score: In movements 1, 3, and 4, original editorial footnotes are indicated with “star” asterisks (★), and in movement 2, original editorial footnotes are indicated with “flower” asterisks (*). In movement 2, Ives’s Conductor’s Note footnotes are referenced with “star” asterisks (★). Throughout the entire score, daggers (†) reference alternative notations.
Text Instructions in the Parts
Orchestral players are accustomed to playing from parts that simply contain music notation and the traditional terms of musical expression and tempo designations. This symphony is so complex that there is a healthy amount of text instructions in each part, and the instructions explain the complex notations in the parts and how they should be conceptualized and negotiated. It would therefore be wise to exhort the players to read the text in their parts carefully and consult the conductor with anything that causes any confusion. Pages from the more complicated parts are reproduced in full for the conductor to study in the following section entitled Part Pages That May Require Explanation. The conductor is likewise encouraged to study that entry in full in anticipation of any questions the players of those parts may have during rehearsals.
Despite its wealth of modernisms, this work by Ives is perhaps the last great romantic symphony. It is the wine of late nineteenth-century American musical culture fermented in an early twentieth-century bottle. All of the devices employed by the composer—some of the most challenging to be found in the symphonic literature—are but means to a great and expressive end. The individual parts transcend and inform the whole, which is music of humor, profundity, pathos, and humanity. Meet this work on its own terms and its transcendental message will speak without effort to the minds of all who listen.