From Insurance to Symphonies: The Home of Charles Ives

Charles Ives: 1874-1954

A house on 460 Ridge Road Hartsdale, was once the residence of American Classical Music Composer Charles Edward Ives. Ives lived at this residence from April 1912-June 1914 while he was working on two of his most famous pieces, Holidays and Second Piano Sonata.

While today Charles Edward Ives is known for being a prominent composer of American Classical Music, during his lifetime he was known primarily as an insurance salesman. He sold insurance from 1898 until his retirement in 1930. In 1906, he even founded his own insurance company, Ives & Myrick.

He composed music while simultaneously selling insurance. As a result of his highly unconventional style, his music was not very profitable, so he composed primarily for his own enjoyment. Two years after founding Ives & Myrick, he married Harmony Twitchell, who greatly helped him manage the stress of leading a double life.

Ives was born on October 20, 1874, in Danbury, Connecticut. He was exposed to music at an early age since his father, George E. Ives, was a very talented musician who had been a bandmaster during the Civil War. Charles studied music at Yale University. His mentor was the famous composer Horatio Parker. However, while Parker was committed to preserving traditional organ music, Charles preferred to combine traditional church hymns with Civil War marches and employ polytonality, the simultaneous use of two or more keys, while doing so. This highly unconventional style annoyed Parker very much, and was the reason Charles failed to make much money with his music.

His most famous works are:  Holidays (1904-1913), Second Piano Sonata (1909-1915), and Three Quarter-Tone Pieces (1923-1924). None of these works were performed until 1931. By that time, he had stopped composing music, and retired from selling insurance.  He died on May 19, 1954, in New York City.

460 Ridge Road Hartsdale (Photo Credit Morris Lee-1947)

In 1947, Morris and Margaret Lee purchased the Ives property. Morris worked for an advertising agency and used the house as a backdrop for TV commercials he wrote and.

In 1988, William and Ulrike McGinty purchased the house from the Lee family and built an extension on the west side of the house.

460 Ridge Road Hartsdale (Photo Credit Joe Sucher 2013)

Today the house belongs to Joe and Layla Sucher. Mr. Sucher is one of the founders of Pacific Street Films. The couple purchased the house in 2002.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this article. It is very informative, and it will help me to write some programme notes for a concert in which the Hitchin Symphony Orchestra (Hertfordshire, UK) will be performing Ives’ ‘The Unanswered Question’.

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