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Tradition Marches On As Danbury Celebrates Charles Ives Day

Participants in a past Charles Ives Day enjoy the view from the summit of Pine Mountain, which straddles Ridgefield and Danbury. Ives had a shelter built here as an escape from city life. Photo Credit: Contributed
A faded sign indicates the Charles Ives House in Rogers Park. The building is being renovated, and the sign will be attended to in the future. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
Another side of the Charles Ives House, now located in Rogers Park. Participants in the Charles Ives Day program will view the outside of the house, which is undergoing renovations. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller

DANBURY, Conn. — Sunday will be a busy day, if you're a fan of Charles Ives, as his hometown of Danbury commemorates the birthday of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer with visits to significant spots in the city.

Charles Ives Day, set for Sunday, Oct. 16, is an annual program of activities hosted by Nancy Sudik and Larry Deming and sponsored by the Danbury Museum & Historical Society.

Ives was born in Danbury on Oct. 20, 1874. He made his fortune by starting an insurance business, but his enduring legacy is the music he created. His compositions weren't popular during his lifetime, as they were not in the style of the day. But Ives' original approach to music found more favor beginning in the 1940s and continuing after his death in 1954.

The first stop of the Charles Ives Day program will be at 11 a.m. at Wooster Cemetery, where Sudik and Deming will share information about Ives and his family. At noon, people will gather at the Ives House to view the refurbished exterior. The exterior work is part of a multi-year project to renovate the house. The Ives house is in Rogers Park, and is best accessed from the Mountainville Avenue entrance.

Finally, participants will meet in the parking lot of Wooster Mountain State Park on Route 7 to hike to Pine Mountain. This is a different route from the way taken in previous years, but it is described as "less treacherous" than hiking up from the other side of the mountain.

"This is the way Charles, his brother Moss, and the Ives family went up to the mountain," Sudik said. "We thought it would be fun to do."

Sudik said the route they will hike on Sunday is the route taken by the horse-drawn carts that carried materials up to the summit where Ives' mountain retreat was built.

Asked what it is about Charles Ives that has her leading this program year after year, Sudik said her interest pre-dated her work as executive director of Danbury Music Centre, from which she retired two years ago.

"Turn back the clock 48 years," she said. "My boyfriend Walter, now my husband, told me they were relocating Charles Ives' birth home. The house was at the corner of Chapel and Main streets. He asked if I wanted to go with him, he was going to watch them move the house to Rogers Park. Charles Ives had been dead 14 years at that point. That's how I ended up interested in Charles Ives."

After she became director of the Danbury Music Centre, Sudik thought it would be a great idea to have an annual event focused on Ives' life.

"Not an academic thing, something that would appeal to the average, every day person," she said.

Sudik began the celebration years ago, fist collaborating with the Danbury Museum & Historical Society. Fellow Ives enthusiast Larry Deming, a violinist and concertmaster with the Danbury Symphony Orchestra, joined the collaboration. Together, they have kept Charles Ives Day an October tradition in Danbury.

The public is welcome to participate in Charles Ives Day. For more information, click here .

For more information about Ives, click here .

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