An interesting piece today that I had forgotten about, by American composer Frederick Shepherd Converse. Converse lived from 1871 to 1940, and he was a fairly prolific composer who wrote in a late-Romantic style, not unlike Richard Strauss, but his inspiration often came from American subjects, and this piece is no exception. It’s called Flivver Ten Million, so called because it honors the production of the ten millionth Model-T Ford. The piece has a quiet and mysteriously lyrical beginning, almost suggesting a foggy morning, but as it progresses it becomes more and more frenetic, and includes such wild sonic devices as a wind machine, interesting percussion use, a hammer on an anvil (at least that’s what it sounds like), and even a car horn. I imagine that Shepherd was depicting the shift in American life from the pastoral to the frantically urban. One hundred years ago America was in the middle of the first great dawning of the Automobile Age, for good and for ill, and this work is a contemporary meditation on that shift which did not abate a single bit as the Model T went into eclipse when newer and better makes and models of cars came on the market.
This performance is by my own Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, by the way! They recorded this piece for the Naxos label almost twenty years ago.