American Mavericks

Carl Ruggles

(b. East Marion, Massachusetts, March 11 1876; d. Bennington, Vermont, October 24 1971)

Carl Ruggles began violin lessons when he was six and was a musician ever after, going on to write music criticism, teach, and compose. He kept company with Ives, Cowell, and Varèse, but his music has an individuality that defies comparison. He was a man of craggy voice and craggy temperament. He wrote a small body of music – only eight published compositions – but what he left aims high, reaching for honesty and spiritual exaltation.

In later life he turned to painting as his primary creative outlet. His work was neglected almost until his death, when Michael Tilson Thomas was in the forefront of a Ruggles rediscovery.