The Circus Band

(1894)

“The Circus Band” is the last in a set of five songs that Ives called Five Street Songs, written while the composer was a student at Yale University. This stirring march in “quickstep time” is primarily tonal, with moments of unexpected rhythmic twists and syncopations, as well as a sprinkling of “wrong notes” in homage to the amateur town band.


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The audio recording, provided in the audio player to the right, features Thomas Hampson, baritone, and Craig Rutenberg, piano. This song was recorded for Instant Encore as part of American Public Media's Performance Today series, presented by Classical Minnesota Public Radio. To listen, please click on the track name itself. You can download a recording of this entire recital for free through the Instant Encore website with the download code: THSOA2009.

The Circus Band
by Charles Ives

All summer long we boys
dreamed 'bout circus joys!
Down Main Street comes the band,
Oh! "Ain't it a grand and glorious noise!

Horses are prancing, knights advancing
Helmets gleaming, pennants streaming,
Cleopatra's on her throne!
That golden hair is all her own.

Where is the lady all in pink?
Last year she waved to me I think,
Can she have died? Can! that! rot!
She is passing but she sees me not.

Audio PLaylist