Capital Ideas Blog

The lesson of Charles Ives insurance man turned composer

By Chelsea Vail
April 25, 2014

From: Blog


Before Charles Ives was world-famous composer, he was a successful insurance man. His firm, Ives and Myrick, was one of the largest and most profitable in the United States decades before his music received any recognition beyond "awful."

This weekend, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is celebrating Ives as part of their Beyond the Score series that takes audiences on a "dramatic exploration of a composer's music," illuminating the historical context in which the work was created.

Harry L. Davis, Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management at Chicago Booth, found inspiration in Ives' unlikely career path, in which his amateur pursuit became his legacy, and wrote about it in his book of selected essays, Why Are You Here and Not Somewhere Else, published last fall. We adapted an excerpt you can read here, "Embrace your inner amateur," for the Winter 2013 issue of Capital Ideas

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