Frederick Shepherd Converse was an American composer of academic music, born in Newton, Massachusetts, His father was a successful merchant, and president of the National Tube Works and the Conanicut Mills. Converse's higher education was at Harvard College, where he came under the influence of the composer John K. Paine. The study of musical theory was a most important part of his college course. Upon his graduation in 1893, his violin sonata (op. 1)won him highest honors in music. Even though he was committed to composing in the late Romantic idiom of his European contemporaries, his works dealt with American subjects. The lush scoring of his program music has been compared to the early style of Richard Strauss. In 1910, his opera The Pipe of Desire became the first American work ever to be performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Today, Converse is best known for his symphonic poem The Mystic Trumpeter (1904), based on the poem of the same name from Walt Whitman's anthology, Leaves of Grass.
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