Frederick Shepherd Converse

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Converse, Frederick Shepherd

Converse, Frederick Shepherd , distinguished American composer and teacher; b. Newton, Mass., Jan. 5, 1871; d. Westwood, Mass., June 8, 1940. After graduating from Harvard Univ. (1893), he studied music in Boston with Carl Baermann and Chadwick (1894–96), then in Munich at the Royal Academy of Music with Rheinberger (graduated, 1898). Returning to Boston, he taught harmony at the New England Cons, of Music (1900–1902; 1920–36; dean, 1931–37) and was a composition instructor at Harvard Univ. (1901–07). He received a Mus.Doc. from Boston Univ. (1933); became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1937). His early works reflect the influence of academic German training; later he began to apply more advanced harmonies; in his Flivver 10 Million, written to glorify the 10 millionth Ford car, he adopted a frankly modern idiom, modeled after Honegger’s Pacific 231. He sketched some material for a fifth Sym. in 1937, but did not complete it. He renumbered his syms. in 1936, calling his previously unnumbered Sym. No. 1 and upping Nos. 1, 2, and 3 by one, giving the title of Sym. No. 5 to the undeveloped sketches for that work. But his Syms. Nos. 2, 3, and 4 were premiered, respectively, as Nos. 1, 2, and 3.


DRAMATIC Opera : The Pipe of Desire (1905; Boston, Jan. 31, 1906); The Sacrifice (1910; Boston, March 3, 1911); Sinbad the Sailor (1913); The Immigrants (1914). ORCH.: Syms.: D minor (Munich, July 14, 1898), No. 1 (c. 1919; Boston, Jan. 30, 1920), No. 2 (1921; Boston, April 21, 1922), No. 3 (1936), and No. 6 (Indianapolis, Nov. 29, 1940); Youth, overture (1895; rev. 1897); Festival March (1899); Festival of Pan (1899; Boston, Dec. 21, 1900); Endymion’s Narrative (1901; Boston, April 9, 1903); Night and Day (1901; Boston, Jan. 21, 1905); Violin Concerto (1902); Euphrosyne, overture (1903); The Mystic Trumpeter (1904; Philadelphia, March 3, 1905); Ormazd, tone poem (1911; St. Louis, Jan. 26, 1912); Ave atque vale, tone poem (1916; St. Louis, Jan. 26, 1917); Fantasia for Piano and Orch. (1922); Song of the Sea, tone poem (1923; Boston, April 18, 1924); Elegiac Poem (1925; Cleveland, Dec. 2, 1926); Flivver 10 Million, epic tone poem (1926; Boston, April 15, 1927); California, descriptive tone poem (1927; Boston, April 6, 1928); American Sketches, symphonic suite (1928; Boston, Feb. 8, 1935); Piano Concertino (1932); Salutation, concert march (1935); 3 Old-fashioned Dances for Chamber Orch. (1938); Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orch. (1938); Haul Away, Jo!, variations on an American sea shanty (1939). CHAMBER : 3 string quartets (1896, rev. 1901; 1904; 1935); Septet for Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Piano, and String Trio (1897); Piano Trio (1932); Prelude and Intermezzo for Brass Sextet (1938); 2 Lyric Pieces for Brass Quintet (1939); piano pieces. VOCAL: O r a t o r i o s : Job, dramatic poem for Soli, Chorus, and Orch. (Worcester Festival, Oct. 2, 1907); Hagar in the Desert, dramatic narrative for Low Voice and Orch. (Hamburg, 1908). C a n t a t a s : The Peace Pipe (1914); The Answer of the Stars (1919); The Flight of the Eagle (1930). O t h e r : La Belle Dame sans merci, ballade for Baritone with Orch. (1902); Psalm, I Will Praise Thee, O Lord (1924); choruses; songs.


R. Severence, The Life and Works of F.S. C. (diss., Boston Univ., 1932); R. Garofalo, The Life and Works of F.S. C. (1871–1940) (diss., Catholic Univ. of America, Washington, D.C., 1969).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Converse, Frederick Shepherd (b Newton, Mass., 1871; d Westwood, Mass., 1940). Amer. composer. Studied mus. at Harvard Coll. 1889–93. Began business career but turned to mus. and studied in Munich, a Sym. in D minor being played at his graduation. Taught at Harvard Coll. 1903–7. Involved in organization of Boston Opera Co. 1908–14. His 1-act opera The Pipe of Desire (Boston 1906) was first Amer. opera to be staged at NY Met (1910). Wrote several more operas; 5 syms.; orch. pieces incl. The Mystic Trumpeter (1904), and Flivver Ten Million (1926), a fantasy to celebrate the manufacture of the 10 millionth Ford car; vn. conc. (1902); choral works; chamber mus.; and pf. works.

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