The Ives house slips away
Jeremy Eichler wrote a most beautiful and poignant tribute that underscores all the points that need to be made and made again (“Losing the home of America’s great composer,” Arts, Sept. 30). How sad that Ives’s own descendant could not then and cannot now fully appreciate his grandfather. To live in such familial proximity (with its certain burs and thorns, as families inevitably have, aside) and yet not participate in the broader expanse that is Charles Ives is sad beyond words.
I am doubly saddened because what would be organic and tactile in its present location is removed to a hermetically sealed and airless space. This is not to denigrate the New York location, but to underscore that the artifacts so carefully gathered and placed are uprooted from the context that put them where they were. It is safe to conjecture that Charles would not feel comfort or rightness about it if he would happen upon such a setting.
Many years ago there was a sculptor, David Smith, who worked in Bolton Landing, N.Y. His sculptures were conceived and made in the open landscapes of his home. A tragic and accidental death cut his life short. There was a retrospective of his work in New York and, as the story comes to me, the family went to see the installation and could not bear it because there was no way for the work to breathe. I went to Bolton Landing some time afterward hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of some of his work, but his home had been fenced and gated off. The story goes that David’s work had to be allowed its privacy and space so it could live.
I think that is akin to the sadness and loss I feel with this studio being taken away. As an artist and hopeful composer, these moments and these places are deeply and indescribably important in a soulful way, and that has been removed from us, leaving it all to slip into myth.
North Bay, N.Y.
Jeremy Eichler’s heartbreaking elegy on the Charles Ives estate in Redding, Conn., raises the important issue of ownership vs. stewardship of our common cultural heritage. What makes this story so devastating is that, in this case, there was no necessary conflict between the two. There was ample time to plan for an orderly sale of the house and for a well-conceived restoration effort. An international army of Ivesians, together with the town and people of Redding, stood ready to meet Mr. Tyler’s asking price, and to satisfy his every demand for the property’s future use. The Ives house is a property of comparable beauty and historical importance to the Emerson house in Concord, the Alcotts’ Orchard House, or Daniel Chester French’s Chesterwood in the Berkshires. Nearly 60 years after the composer’s death, it remains in a virtually original state of preservation. No matter how sensitive the new owner may be to the Ives history, no matter where the Ives studio may be reproduced, the opportunity to rescue this priceless legacy for the edification and pleasure of future generations is rapidly disappearing, and once gone, will be lost forever.
ROBERT WHITEHOUSE ESHBACH
Associate Professor of Music
University of New Hampshire
Remembering recent history
As an HIV-positive survivor of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco’s Castro district during the 1980s and ’90s, thank you for the coverage of Mr. France’s documentary, “How to Survive a Plague,” and for continuing to further public awareness of this devastation that too many have chosen, or would prefer, to forget (“A triumph of activism,” Movies, Sept. 30, James Sullivan).
With debilitating health and too few T-cells, there is no rhyme or reason why I survived long enough to benefit from protease inhibitors when my friends and loved ones did not. The unanswerable question of my fate passes my consciousness many times every day, as I’m randomly reminded of those whose time ran out. Because the subject has been allowed to pass from our public consciousness, mine and too many others’ is a quiet memorial, solemn and personal, usually without current reference, understanding, or appreciation. Too often I feel the rage of a survivor who wonders why no one else rises to the anger of being allowed to feel disposable, forgotten, minimized, marginalized.
It is my hope that Mr. Sullivan’s article, and Mr. France’s documentary, will help those recall, and others understand perhaps for the first time, a most important era of our recent history and will thankfully acknowledge those who selflessly and with grace ennobled themselves and our race through action and in the process once again proved the transcendent nature of the human spirit.
Thank you for bringing light and hope and voice to me and all those who survived to remember — and to tell the story.
H. N. TUTTLE
Sprinkles of dialect, please
As always, I enjoyed Ty Burr’s writing, but I’d like to give a special shout-out to his use of (and the copy edit desk’s decision to leave alone) the word “jimmies” (“The hit man’s guide to time travel,” g, Sept. 28).
Far too often, our precious regional language is smashed out. It’s ours, and it’s good to keep these expressions alive.
I raise a glass of tonic to you both.
A credit to the neighborhood
As a Dorchester resident, I thank Jeffrey Gantz for his grand review of a wonderful show that celebrates a very different Dot (“Fiddlehead scores with a ‘Ragtime’ that really sings,” g, Oct. 2). We saw “Ragtime” on Sunday. Just wonderful.
ERROL LINCOLN UYS
Wave-watching with Homer
Sebastian Smee’s Homer review today is (active tense) a splash of ocean, a nip of brine (“Wave maker,” g, Sept. 28). Thanks to Smee, we’re there.
Passionate, beautifully composed, and thoughtful are words I could write about Homer, himself. Just a few words of praise and thanks for a splendid review of my favorite artist’s work. My companion and I will be rushing off to Portland soon.
Smee truly captured the very essence of Homer. We saw, smelt, and felt the Maine coast in his beautiful words. When we get to Portland, we will think of him.
LUCIE AND ARMAND KAZARIAN
‘Porgy and Bess,’ miked
Jeremy Eichler’s review of the BSO’s “Porgy and Bess” noted the flattening effect of the amplification (“BSO brings back ‘Porgy and Bess’ — with amplification,” Metro, Sept. 29). My wife and I were there last night, and though we had seen the microphones strung in the air like little paper lanterns and the huge speaker arrays on each side of the stage area, we had always thought they were for radio broadcasts or other events. The amplified voices last night were flat across the stage, as Eichler commented, and there were also some gaps in the coverage. Still, it was a wonderful performance, but it does leave me wondering if the setup was designed by BSO management for what they think of as an older audience with hearing problems, or a younger crowd who like their music loud.
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