Florence Price was doubtless one of the great composers of her generation, and the first African American woman "to achieve national recognition for her accomplishments as a symphonic composer." (source: University of Arkansas.) In 2018, Price seems finally to be having her "moment" with a flurry of press, new editions on the horizon, and the premiere of her once-lost fourth symphony all occurring since January. An American original who completed over 300 compositions, she was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas and later became a part of the Chicago music scene after some time studying at the New England Conservatory with composer George Whitfield Chadwick.
Next season I'll be performing the music of Price, and I would encourage local concertgoers to come out to one or both of these performances. In the meantime, this entry is designed to round up a lot of the existing resources on the web into one place so that other musicians can pursue projects to do with Price's music more quickly and readily. With hundreds of works, including two violin concertos and four symphonies, there is a wealth of repertoire to explore for practitioners in almost every musical genre.
This post divides into three main sections: Curated Resources, Repertoire, and Appendix.
- Tom Dillard. "Reviving a fine musical legacy." Arkansas Democrat - Gazette. (May 20, 2018)
- Micaela Baranello. "Welcoming a Black Female Composer Into the Canon. Finally." New York Times. (Feb. 9, 2018)
- Alex Ross. "The Rediscovery of Florence Price." New Yorker. (February 5, 2018)
- UALR Public Radio: "After Lost Scores Are Found In Abandoned House, Musicians Give Life To Florence Price's Music" (May 4, 2018)
- Tom Huizenga. "Songs We Love: Florence Price, 'Violin Concerto No. 2'." NPR. (February 9, 2018)
- Bob McQuiston. "Classical Lost And Found: Florence Price Rediscovered." NPR. (February 28, 2012 - well ahead of the curve.)
There are a number of great radio and tv programs to aid any musician in learning more about this electrifying composer, many of them available for free online.
The Price of Admission
Hosted by Terrance McKnight.
Gathering The Pieces: The Florence Price Legacy
Hosted by Karen Tricot Steward.
Listen to the complete program on UALR Public Radio's website: Gathering The Pieces: The Florence Price Legacy.
The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price
The complete documentary by James Greeson is available for purchase by The University of Arkansas Press.
The Life and Music of Florence Price: An Interview with Rae Linda Brown
This interview exists only in print. Read at Black Perspectives. Of note is their conversation about being a single mother.
The Unsung Legacies of Composers Margaret Bonds and Florence Price
This interview on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra website is notable for engaging with Alex Ross' New Yorker profile from earlier this year as regards career inertia. Lara Emerick and Samantha Ege discuss.
Q on Florence Price
Hosted by Tom Power.
Listen to the complete interview on WNYC: Q - Full Episode: Er-Gene Kahng.
Spotlight: Violin Concerto No. 2
Violinist Er-Gene Kahng is one of the many first-rate artists who call Arkansas home and who actively promote the music of Price. Kahng performs the two price concerti across the country and also plays with the Arkansas and Ft. Smith symphonies, both of which actively perform Price's symphonic works.
I've provided a brief YouTube playlist covering a number of different symphonic works as well as samples from a couple of documentaries. I'll call attention to her first Symphony in E Minor for its depth and breadth of both structure and expression.
This spotify list created by Patrick Abraham Fisher contains a mixture of many works across genres. Notice her imaginative orchestrations. Among the many strong works on this list is her popular Fantasie Negre, which has also received some critical analysis. Also of note is the performer, pianist Lara Downes. I do not know Downes personally, but she and I have both recorded the music of Martha Callison Horst. We seem to have similar tastes. Other favorites include Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint and Night.
Appendix: Additional Resources
Here is an additional supply of links to reliably-sourced materials on various aspects of Price's music and career.
Scholarly Writing and Critical Analysis
- Bone, Robert, Richard A. Courage, and Amritjit Singh. "Birthing the Blues and Other Black Musical Forms." The Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932-1950. (pp. 94-113) Rutgers University Press, 2011. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjdb5.
- Brown, Rae Linda. "The Woman's Symphony Orchestra of Chicago and Florence B. Price's Piano Concerto in One Movement." American Music 11, no. 2 (1993): 185-205. doi:10.2307/3052554.
- Farrah, Scott David. "Signifyin(g): A Semiotic Analysis of Symphonic Works by William Grant Still, William Levi Dawson, and Florence B. Price." Thesis: Florida State University Libraries. (2007)
- Jackson, Barbara Garvey. "Florence Price, Composer." The Black Perspective in Music 5, no. 1 (1977): 31-43. doi:10.2307/1214357
- O'Hara, William. "A Look at Florence Beatrice Price and 'Fantasie Negre'". The Tufts University Marginalized Music Project. (December 25, 2016)
- Price, Florence, Rae Linda Brown, Wayne D. Shirley, and Florence Price. 2008. Symphonies nos. 1 and 3. Middleton, Wis: Published for the American Musicological Society by A-R Editions.
- Walker-Hill, Helen. "Discovering The Music Of Black Women Composers." American Music Teacher 40, no. 1 (1990): 20-63. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43542379.
- Brown, Rae Linda. 1987. Selected orchestral music of Florence B. Price (1888-1953) in the context of her life and work.
Each of these collections within the Library of Congress contain significant materials which relevant to the performance of Florence Price's music.
- A.P. Schmidt Company. A.P. Schmidt Company archives, 1869-1958 (bulk 1895-1920).
34,775 items (514 containers, 280 linear feet)
ML31 .A2. https://lccn.loc.gov/2006577426
- Epstein, Selma, donor. Selma Epstein collection, 1931-1987.
72 items (5 boxes, 2.6 linear feet).
ML31 .E6. https://lccn.loc.gov/2014572489
- Langinger, Herman. Herman Langinger music publishing files, 1889-1972 (bulk 1927-1955).
650 items (12 boxes, 4.0 linear feet)
ML31 .L36. https://lccn.loc.gov/2011570509
- Rodzinski, Artur, 1892-1958. Artur Rodzinski collection, 1868-1989 (bulk 1932-1957).
around 5,000 items (62 boxes, 30 linear feet).
ML31 .R64. https://lccn.loc.gov/2006577403
- New Recording Features First Major Female African-American Composer
- Who Was Florence Price?
- Violin Professor Discusses Florence Price Preservation Project in New ‘Short Talks From the Hill’
- BBC revives works of 'lost' women composers to help redress 'historic imbalance
Additional Resource Lists
- AllMusic Overview: Florence Price
- Composition List
- Discogs Discography: Florence Price
- University of Arkansas Digital Collections: Florence Price
- University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections: Florence Price
- Women's Philharmonic Advocacy:
Bonus: Commercial Recordings