Imagined Adventures: AutoBonn

Commissioned: The Florida Orchestra, Michael Francis, music director, and The Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters

Premiered: The Florida Orchestra, Michael Francis, music director

Year: 2019

Duration: five minutes

Difficulty: Advanced/Professional

Instrumentation: perc/harp/strings

Program Notes:

AUTOBONN is the second in a series of pieces called Imagined Adventures; short, programmatic works based on childhood fantasies. It is about the dream of taking off in a fast sports car, ramping up the energy with each gearshift.

This work was commissioned as part of the celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020. All of the motives were taken from the Presto movement of his String Quartet No. 14, Op. 131, in C-sharp minor. The quartet movement itself is a galloping race, which provided ample opportunity for orchestral adrenaline. The original opening cello arpeggio is treated as the roaring engine ignition in all of the low strings, bassoons, and timpani. Each successive section takes us through a different gear, with first gear being light in color and register, as our sports car is revving through high RPMs off the starting line. The second gear drops a bit lower as the engine resets for another build up, with the third gear dropping further, and then building up further still. Finally, we reach the last gear and a direct quote of the original string quartet, with the car beginning its last push towards top speed, all before winding down as the joyride comes to an end.

N.B. The composer apologizes for the title of this piece, fusing Autobahn, the famous German roadway, and Bonn, the town of Beethoven’s birth. The pun is indeed, regrettable, but necessary.