Charles Ives and "Our National Malady"

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In his psychoanalytical biography of Ives, Charles Ives: "My Father's Song," Stuart Feder convincingly argued that Ives's health breakdowns in 1906 and 1918 were the result of emotional and psychological factors rather than a physical heart condition. But the Freudian approach and terminology employed by Feder were unknown in American in 1906 and had not been fully accepted even by 1918. Therefore, how would an American doctor in 1906 have diagnosed Ives's "condition" A careful examination of key events in Ives's life between 1902 and 1908, and a close reading of his correspondence indicate that he may have been recognized as neurasthenic. Ives's neurasthenia locates his identity by nationality, ethnicity, gender, economic and social class, education, profession, environment, and lifestyle. As a result, his artistic values and character traits emerge as remarkably typical of his country, culture, and time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-584
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of the American Musicological Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music


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