NemesisVex blogs about the Emerson String Quartet's American Originals:
The album starts with Ives' String Quartet No. 1, "From the Salvation Army", a work of surprising tonality. The piece has such an amiability -- based, as it is, on revival and gospel hymns -- it's tough to resolve the work's playfulness with the thorny clusters and dissonances for which Ives would eventually be known.
I'm just back from walking the iPod, and listening to Ives. This got me to wondering how much of Ives' maverick side came from his father. Do we really know what his father was like or is our knowledge via filtered anecdotes from the son?
Ives's father was the bandleader George Ives, about whom little is known beyond Charles' not always reliable recollections. Whether the father really anticipated the son's experiments is impossible to determine...
Michael Broyles, in Mavericks and Other Traditions in American Music, also talks about George Ives. First, he suggests the father was the black sheep of the family for coming back from the Civil War and making music his profession, for example in this quote:
Many years later Philip Sunderland, three years older than Charles Ives, remembered vividly life in Danbury where he had grown up. His comments speak for his generation: "They [the people of Danbury] didn't take George Ives very seriously. He was only the bandleader."
Broyles does point out early signs of Charles' radical modernism in compositions like The Celestial Country and Variations in America, although no explicit description of his father's personality.