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The house that American composer Charles Ives built in 1912 and lived in until his death in 1954 is up for sale. However, as developers look to maximise the property’s value, the country dwelling is under threat of being knocked down.
Located in Redding, Connecticut, it holds cultural significance as the place where Ives composed most of his major works. The Ives family, who have lived in the house ever since the composer’s death, have packed his library into boxes ready for the move. But it still contains and many of his possessions including period furniture in perfect condition In his small composing room, the walls are covered in programs and newspaper cuttings; a faded framed photo of Brahms sits on a ledge above Ives’ famous hat and his father’s cornet.
Charles Ives’ made his mark on American music with his modernist style that combined American popular music, church hymns and European art music. He is arguably best known for his orchestral work Three Places in New England and his Piano Sonata No. 2. His impact on 20th-century music was wide-reaching, influencing composers such as Arnold Schoenberg. Ives also provided financial support for other struggling composers.
The news of the potential demolition came to light when composer Oliver Knussen and cellist Zoe Martlew went to visit Ives’ house last week. Martlew describes it as a charming house and barn nestled among rolling hills of New England countryside. She says of its endangered future, “The real-estate agent, an expert on historical buildings in the area and sympathetic to the cause, explained ruefully that property investors are snapping at his heels to get their hands on this prime bit of real-estate.” The property is valued at $1.3 million, and property investors reportedly believe that the land’s development opportunities could be expanded if the house was knocked down.
If sold, the house could be demolished in a matter of weeks. Martlew has called on music lovers and philanthropists around the world to buy this musical landmark and save it for future generations.