Charles Edward Ives (October 20, 1874 – May 19, 1954) was an American modernist composer. He is one of the first American composers of international renown, though Ives' music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years.
Born in Danbury, Connecticut, Ives became a church organist at the age of 14 and wrote various hymns and songs for church services, including his Variations on 'America.' Ives moved to New Haven in 1893, enrolling in the Hopkins School, where he captained the baseball team. In September 1894, Ives entered Yale University. At Yale, Ives was a prominent figure; he was a member of HeBoule, Delta Kappa Epsilon (Phi chapter) and Wolf's Head Society, and sat as chairman of the Ivy Committee. His works Calcium Light Night and Yale-Princeton Football Game show the influence of college and sports on Ives' composition. He wrote his Symphony No. 1 as his senior thesis.
In 1899, Ives began work with the insurance agency Charles H. Raymond & Co., where he stayed until 1906. In 1907, upon the failure of Raymond & Co., he and his friend Julian Myrick formed their own insurance agency Ives & Co., which later became Ives & Myrick, where he remained until he retired. During his career as an insurance executive, Ives devised creative ways to structure life-insurance packages for people of means, which laid the foundation of the modern practice of estate planning. His Life Insurance with Relation to Inheritance Tax, published in 1918, was well received. As a result of this he achieved considerable fame in the insurance industry of his time. In his spare time he composed music and, until his marriage, worked as an organist in Danbury and New Haven as well as Bloomfield, New Jersey and New York City.
In 1907, Ives suffered the first of several "heart attacks" (as he and his family called them) that he had throughout his lifetime. These attacks may have been psychological in origin rather than physical. Following his recovery from the 1907 attack, Ives entered into one of the most creative periods of his life as a composer. After marrying Harmony Twitchell in 1908, they moved into their own apartment in New York. He continued to be a prolific composer until he suffered another of several heart attacks in 1918, after which he composed very little, writing his very last piece, the song "Sunrise," in August 1926. In 1922, Ives published his 114 Songs, which represents the breadth of his work as a composer — it includes art songs, songs he wrote as a teenager and young man, and highly dissonant songs such as "The Majority." Ives died in 1954 in New York City and his widow bequeathed the royalties from his music to the American Academy of Arts and Letters for the Charles Ives Prize.