Like the Second Orchestral Set, the First Piano Sonata is underrated, compared to its more popular sibling. According to Swafford's biography of Ives, the First Piano Sonata was the second of Ives' "orphans." These were works with which Ives was never satisfied and which he eventually abandoned. (The other "orphan" was the Robert Browning Overture.) But don't let that fool you. This is a tremendous sonata. Sure, it doesn't scale the heights of the "Concord." But what does?
Ives assembled and revised the Piano Sonata No. 1 "as late as 1919" (according to Sinclair) from works composed circa 1901 to 1909.
Borrowed tunes include:
Pianist William Masselos premiered Sonata No. 1 for Piano on February 17, 1949. (Incidentally, he also premiered the Three-Page Sonata on April 25 of the same year.)
William Masselos also made the first recording of the work for Columbia Records. It was released in 1953.