The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives
Written and Illustrated by Joanne Stanbridge
Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives, written and illustrated by the talented Joanne Stanbridge, is aimed at readers at the third grade reading level and up. It is also the true story of an American composer who did not become famous for his work until well after he passed away. And, although his music was not understood in his day, Stanbridge shows us that it did not stop Mr. Ives from composing music that was often inspired by the hustle and bustle of New York City sounds such as: train whistles, traffic jams, honking cars, and noisy vendors selling their wares.
The piece that put Mr. Ives on the map of musical composers originates with a slice of 1915 American history when an enemy torpedo sunk the ocean liner, the Lusitania. The tragedy silenced Americans and hushed the sounds of New York City life, as well as the music that lived inside Mr. Ives.
Eventually New Yorkers in Hanover Square North began to express their feelings by singing an old tune, “In the street bye and bye, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.” These words stirred Ives to compose. He rushed home and spent the entire evening trying to capture the mood of that moment. He took their song, wove in city street sounds, and named his new piece From Hanover Square North, at the end of a Tragic Day, the Voice of the People Again Arose.
More than fifty years later, and thirteen years after Mr. Ives’ death, From Hanover Square North was performed and became a huge success. At long last, people began to understand Ives’ music and to listen to it. The biggest compliment to his work comes from other admiring musicians. They mimicked Ives’ boldness in their own compositions. Stanbridge dedicates a page of illustrations and text to three of Ives’ fans: Elliott Cook Carter’s Pocahontas, Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land, and John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls.
The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives is a nonfiction picture book that would be appropriate for third grade readers and up. It is also an ideal book to add to all school libraries and classrooms for discussions about events like 9/11. Stanbridge’s picture book is a compelling look at how people came together to mourn and offers a positive response to healing.