Ives' Violin Sonata No. 4, "Children's Day at Camp Meeting" consists of
the following movements:
- i. Allegro
- ii. Largo
- iii. Allegro
In his Memos, Ives made the follow remarks about the Fourth Violin
Sonata, "Children's Day at Camp Meeting":
[It] is but an attempt to write a sonata which Moss White (then
about twelve years old) could play. The first movement kept to the idea
fairly well, but the second got way away from it, and the third got
about in between. Moss White certainly couldn't play the last two, and
neither could his teacher. It is called "Children's Day" because it
is based principally on the church hymns sung at the children's services.
At the summer Camp Meetings in the Brookside Park, the children
(more so the boys) would get marching and shouting the hymns-as "Work
While the Day Is…," "Bringing in the Sheaves" (not in this sonata),
"Gather at the River," etc. And the slow movement recalls a serious
time for children, "Yes, Jesus Loves Me"-except when old Stone Mason
Bell and Farmer John would get up and shout or sing-and some of the
boys would rush out and throw stones down on the rocks in the river.
At the end of the slow movement, sometimes a distant Amen would be heard-the
violin holding the last E, and the piano playing the high A and middle
C# again pppp, then letting the upper A come down to G# and the lower
C# to B. But this Amen is very much ad libitum matter, and may not be
wanted except on a few occasions (or when the spirit moves!)--seldom
if ever by the Methodists or Baptists, (Yes, by the Congregationalists
and Episcopalians)--when they were leading the meeting! .
This work is probably the most well known of the four violin sonatas.
I also think that it's the strongest of the four. (Ives probably agreed.
The Fourth was the first one that he published.) To me, the climax of
the work is the slow second movement, with its haunting treatment of "Jesus
Loves Me." Along with the "Piano Trio," this is my favorite of Ives' chamber
Ives assembled the Violin Sonata No. 4 circa 1916, using works that he
had composed from 1900 to 1916. The first movement is derived from the
lost "Sonata for Trumpet and Organ." The third movement is based on Ives'
"Piece for Cornet and Strings," also lost.
The first movement borrows the tune "Old, Old Story" as well as his father's
"Fugue No. 4 in B." The second movement uses "Jesus Loves Me." The final
movement quotes "Nettleton."
The first documented performance of the "Fourth Violin Sonata" took place
in New York City on January 14, 1940. Eudice Shapiro and (violin) and
Irene Jacobi (piano) performed the work at the Auditorium of the Museum
of Modern Art.
Joseph Szigeti (violin) and Andor Foldes (piano) made the first recording
of the "Fourth." It was released in 1942 on the New Music Recordings label.