Perhaps more than any of his 20th-century contemporaries, Charles Ives' works tend to sound distinctly American due to their use of hymns, popular songs, and marches of the composer's youth. The son of a Danbury, Conn., bandmaster, Ives was greatly influenced by the rather eccentric musical ideals of his father, and began composing as a young adult. His studies with Parker at Yale led to the relatively conventional First Symphony (1898) and song sets of at the turn of the century. His profession, however, was selling insurance, not writing music, and even though he diligently produced three monumental symphonies and numerous orchestral and chamber works in middle age, most of it was written without prospect of performance. Ironically, he became among the most widely performed American composers of his generation after death, and the only consistent characteristic of this music is defiant originality and disregard for convention. He died in New York in 1954.