Born Charles Sprague Ruggles (1876-1971), the New England composer teutonized his name to Carl when a youth. Carl's music is sometimes (somewhat incorrectly) associated with that of his friend, fellow composer and sometimes financial backer Charles Ives (1874-1954), for its rugged American individuality. Ruggles, an incorrigible reviser given to working at a snail's pace, produced precious few musical works over his long career, but they are darn good ones. He devoted much of his life to painting, which could partially explain his low musical output. He developed a highly dissonant, contrapuntal style somewhat akin to the atonal styles of Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) and his pupils.

Charles Ives is said to have said to a heckler of Ruggles's music: "When you hear strong masculine music like this, get up and use your ears like a man!"


John Knowles Paine Hall at Harvard University | April 11, 1996