Music: Double Indemnity

Charles Edward Ives is a composer U.S. musicians like to talk about—but seldom get to hear. Much of his diffuse, polytonal music is as difficult as trying to play a Bach fugue on a musical saw—and often as strange to listen to. But last week, in Boston, 73-year-old Composer Ives had his innings.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra had its troubles. Some Ives compositions are marked "play as you will." In rehearsal, single measures in Ives's symphonic suite Three Places in New England had to be hashed over as many as ten times. One section has a trumpet blaring the melody of...

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