Survey of Recordings



Ives Quotes


Essays &





Join the Discussion

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! [72].

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 music compositions.

Composition History

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."

Premiere Performance

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.

Premiere Recording

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.



Back to Top | Back to Works | Recordings of This Work

Original text copyright © Scott Mortensen 2002