What the reviewers say

“First rate . . . Mr. Budiansky lures the reader into the mystery of Ives’s life, and the eccentric power of his music, in prose free from jargon and pretense. . . . it has taken an outsider like Mr. Budiansky to produce a book on Ives enjoyable enough to persuade the general reader to sit down and listen to his music.” — Leon Botstein, president, Bard College, and music director, American Symphony Orchestra, The Wall Street Journal

“Excellent . . . the difficulty of writing Ives’s biography is to prevent the life from sliding into myth. Budiansky tells the story movingly but plainly. He portrays the divisions of Danbury, the gap between the ‘rising industrial city whose grim mill buildings were clustered along the winding arc of the tiny Still River’ and the city ‘filled with music and innocence that Ives always remembered,’ to offer a persuasive explanation of Ives’s life work: the preservation of a world that was eroding even as he was formed in it.”
— Jeremy Denk, concert pianist and MacArthur Fellow, New York Review of Books

A “superb and genial biography” of Charles Ives —  Washington Post

“A brilliantly written biography of Charles Ives. The author’s extraordinary research has yielded fresh and very important insights into the battle between the composer’s health and musical creations. Ives has never before seemed so human, so real.”  — James Sinclair, music director, Orchestra New England, and executive editor, the Charles Ives Society

“Here’s a great new book! It’s rare that a composer biography written by a cultural historian also includes in-depth technical discussion of the music. You’ll learn how nostalgic memories of late 19th-century Danbury, Connecticut played a role in shaping Ives’ radical modernist musical vision. The writing is accessible, and the book is also a substantial contribution to Ives scholarship.” — Forrest Larson, Lewis Music Library, MIT

“Compelling and incisive, Mad Music answers questions that have bedeviled Ives scholars for years. Ives jumps off the page full-blooded in all of his complexity, contradiction, and genius.” — Tom C. Owens, editor, Selected Correspondence of Charles Ives

“Mad Music is the provocative, but historically and musicologically correct title for Stephen Budiansky’s biography of Charles Ives . . . Budiansky has made significant new discoveries about the composer, finding previously unknown correspondence revealing the physical and mental impact of Ives’ 1918 diagnosis with diabetes.” —  San Francisco Classical Voice

“A superbly written narrative of a life and a calling . . . balances perfectly the man Charles Ives and the musician Charles Ives.” — WOSU Classical 101