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Nass, M.L. (1993). Charles Ives: “My Father's Song.” Stuart Feder. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992, 396 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 80(3):475-479.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Review, 80(3):475-479

Books

Charles Ives: “My Father's Song.” Stuart Feder. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992, 396 pp.

Review by:
Martin L. Nass, Ph.D.

The resurgence of interest in the creative process among psychoanalysts is notable in many recent writings. Specifically, there has been a great deal of work dealing with music and psychoanalysis, both from the point of view of understanding the creative process in composers and musicians, and from the position of the biographical studies of individual artists and musicians. Over the past several years, there has been an ongoing colloquium on music and psychoanalysis from both of these positions. Open meetings have been held for the past three years on central issues in the creative process as it applies to music. The author of the work under discussion is a co-chairman and a moving force in this organization. His book, Charles Ives: “My Father's Song,” is a major work in this area.

It is frequently said that biographers who study an individual's life, work, and relationships become a part of the subject's life and family, and that the subject holds a special place in the psyche of the biographer. Clearly, Stuart Feder's book illustrates this maxim. More than ten years in the making, his book has provided us with a detailed, carefully researched view of Ives's development and his intermingled and complex relationship with his father, George. His primary focus is on Charles (whom he familiarly refers to as “Charlie”) and his relationship with his father, as the title clearly reveals. The work is a well-written, carefully documented one in which the author, a member of the faculty of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, as well as a musicologist, applies his skills and insights in both of these areas. It is a major contribution to the Ives literature as well as to an expansion of the literature on the creative process. The book also helped greatly to increase my understanding of Charles Ives and his music. I thank Dr. Feder for providing me with this experience. It is written in a clear and nontechnical manner and should have wide appeal to many audiences.

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