This post is one of a series on composer Florence Price.

Below is a timeline of some of the major events of the life of Florence Beatrice Price with many linked sources allowing the reader to explore further. In many cases, I have provided contextual events covering major events in history, those events local to Price's residence at the time, and international musical events. It is hoped that this timeline will help weave Price into the fabric of our understanding of the 20th century. As with other entries in this log, there are a number of details about Price's life that simply haven't yet been investigated, which explains some of the notable gaps in time shown below. 

Contextual events are listed in italics. 

Birth and Childhood

1887

Florence Beatrice Smith is born on April 9 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Born to Florence Gulliver, a pianist, and James H. Smith, a dentist.

Other Notable Births: Arthur Rubinstein, Eubie Blake, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Chico Marx, Anthony van Hoboken, Nadia Boulanger, Ernst Toch.

1891

Price gives her first piano performance at the age of 4. 

Fourteen-year-old cellist Pablo Casals gives a solo recital in Barcelona.

Carnegie Hall has its grand opening, at which Tchaikovsky conducts his own works.

Brahms composes his Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115.

1898

Has her first composition published at the age of 11. 

Price attended the same school as William Grant Still. Both suited under notable teacher Charlotte Andrews Stephens.

Notable compositions: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Hiawatha's Wedding Feast; Rimsky-Korsakov, Sadko; 

 

Youth in Boston

1901

Smith graduates Capitol High School at age 14, the Valedictorian of her class.

Moves to Boston, Mass.

Enrolls at New England Conservatory in Boston at the age of 14. Majors in Piano and Organ. While there: 

  • Studies with George Chadwick.
  • Studies with Frederick Converse.
  • Composes first string trio.
  • Composes first symphony. (Unclear if this is simply an earlier version of the Symphony in E Minor.)

Major Premieres: Mahler, Symphony No. 4; Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 2; Dvořák, Rusalka

Giuseppe Verdi Dies

1903

Boston Americans beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 8 of the inaugural world series, held in the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds in Boston, making them the first champions of the modern World Series.

1905

George Chadwick completes one of his more popular works, Symphonic Sketches during this period in which Price was one of his NEC pupils. (Information: 1 • 2. Score: 1 • 2. Recordings: 1 • 2.)

 

Early Career

1906

Smith graduates New England Conservatory with honors. Receives an artist diploma and a teaching certificate. Returns to Arkansas.

Taught in the music department at Shorter College in Arkansas.

Lynching of Homer G. Blackman leads to what is known as the Argenta Race Riot of 1906. (Argenta is now North Little Rock.)

1910

Smith moves to Atlanta, Georgia.

Becomes the head of the music department at Clark Atlanta University.

Compositions: Schoenberg, Five Pieces for Orchestra; Scriabin, Prometheus; Vaughan Williams, Symphony No. 1, Stravinsky, The Firebird.

 

Married Life in Little Rock

1912

Smith Marries lawyer Thomas J. Price and again moves back to Little Rock. Changes name to Florence Price.

The couple have two daughters during this period.

This period is not well-documented. It is quite possible that many works from this period are lost.

Premieres: Mahler, Symphony No. 9; Schoenberg, Pierrot Lunaire.

Compositions: Prokofiev, Piano Concerto Nos. 1 and 2; Ravel, Daphnis et Chloé.

Publications: "The Memphis Blues," one of the first recognized hits of the genre.

 

1919

Elaine massacre takes place from September 30–October 1 in Phillips County, Arkansas. It is considered among the deadliest acts of racial violence in U.S. History. (Sources: 1 • 2)

Congress passes the Volstead Act which begins the prohibition era in 1920. Prohibition is linked to the rise of hundreds of thousands of "Speakeasy" establishments across the country and to the live jazz music popularized in these clubs.

 

Flight to Chicago

1927

Price leaves Little Rock for the last time, moving permanently to Chicago due to racial violence in Little Rock. She studies with leading Chicago artists including Carl Busch and Leo Sowerby.

Leo Sowerby completes his Symphony No. 2.

1928

Publishes four pieces for piano. Composes At the Cotton Gin for piano.

Bartok completes his String Quartet No. 4.

1929

Composes one of her most popular piano pieces, her Fantasie negre in E minor.

Composers String Quartet in G Major (Video)

Stock Market Crash of 1929 begins the Great Depression. The Great Depression puts a great deal of financial pressure on the Prices.

1930

Price composes "The Moon Bridge" and "The New Moon" for choir.

 

Maturity

1931

Thomas and Florence divorce. (Sources: 1 2)

Price is forced to raise her two daughters on her own during the Great Depression. At some point during this period, she moves in with her student, Margaret Bonds.

Completes Symphony No. 1 in E Minor.

1932

Price composes Ethiopia's Shadow in America and Piano Sonata in E Minor.

Price wins the first prize in the Wanamaker Foundation Awards for her first Symphony.

1933

Frederick Stock premieres Price's first Symphony on June 15. This is the first recorded instance of a premiere by a major American Orchestra of an African-American Woman.

Price's student, Margaret Bonds performed Price's piano concerto with the Women's Symphony Orchestra of Chicago.

1934

Composes Mississippi River Suite, Piano Concerto in One Movement. (Source)

Composes "Dreamin' Town" on text by Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

1935

Composes String Quartet in A Minor. (Video)

Composes Four Songs.

1936

The first black member of the Chicago Club of Women Organists, Price performed her Passacaglia and Fugure and an arrangement of "Steal Away" on one of their programs.

1937

"My soul's been Anchored in de Lord" published by Gamble Hinged Music.

1938

Price composes Dance of the Cotton Blossoms and Arkansas Jitter for piano.

Arranges "Nobody knows the trouble I see" for piano.

1939

Marian Anderson closes her historic Lincoln Memorial concert with Price's ""My soul's been Anchored in de Lord". (Sources: 1  2)

Completes Violin Concerto No. 1.

Premiere of Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2 in Amsterdam. The opening theme played by violin over repeated chords, and many points throughout, borrow from the blues.

1940

Price is inducted into National Association for American Composers and Conductors.

Composes Symphony No. 3 in C Minor. (Source)

Symphony No. 3 successfully premiered by the Michigan WPA Symphony, conducted by Valter Poole. (Source)

Creation of the Florence B. Price Music Study Guild, a third Chicago branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians.

1941

"Songs to the Dark Virgin" published by Schirmer. Text by Langston Hughes. (Sources: 1)

Glen Miller receives first gold disc for Chattanooga Choo Choo.

1942

Marian Anderson performs Price's ""My soul's been Anchored in de Lord" on "The Bell Telephone Hour" conducted by Donald Vorhees.

Price arranges "Were you there?" for piano.

1943

Price pens her famous letter to Serge Koussevitzky. (Sources: 1 • 2 • 3)

1944

Koussevitzky examined one of Price's scores, but declined to program her music with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. (Source)

1946

Price composes  Night, for medium voice & piano.

1947

Price was the first black member of the Musicians Club of Women. In 1947, two members performed the two-piano version of her Piano Concerto in One Movement, a choral work, and several art songs.

Premiere of Maurice Duruflé, Requiem.

Completed compositions: Barber, Knoxvlle: Summer of 1915; Britten, Albert Herring; Irving Berlin, Annie Get your Gun; Rogers & Hammerstein, Oklahoma!; Weill, Street Scene.

1948

Price arranges "I am bound for the kingdom" for piano.

1949

Price publishes two spirituals: "I Am Bound for the Kingdom," and "I'm Workin’ on My Buildin'".

Composes 3 Little Negro Dances for piano, four hands.

The Musicians Club of Women premiered Price's Suite for Brasses on February 8.

1951

Sir John Barbirolli sent Price a telegram to request a concert overture for the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester. (JRS: This work was lost for some time. I'm not clear if it is among the works located in 2009.) (Sources: 1)

String Quartet on Negro Themes premieres at Catey Temple church in February.

Completes Five Folksongs in Counterpoint.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs Suite of Negro Dances. Conductor George Schick conducts on a live televised pops concert on February 18.

Completes Sea Gulls for women's chorus and chamber ensemble.

1952

Marian Anderson's performance of "Songs to the Dark Virgin" receives  praise in the Chicago Daily News. (Sources: 1  2)

Completes Violin Concerto No. 2.

1953

Composes Dances in the Canebrakes. (Sources: 1  2)

Price dies of a stroke on June 30.

 

Posthumous Recognition

1974

A performance in Fargo, ND by the Orchestra of the International Peace Gardens included two unspecified pieces by Price on a program. (Source)

1993

Two of the first known commercial recordings featuring Price's music are released:

  • Art Songs by American Composers / Yolanda Marcoulescou-Stern. Gasparo Records, 1993.
  • Black Diamonds/ Althea Waites. Cambria Records, 1993.

1997

First album exclusively featuring music by Price is released:

  • Chicago Renaissance Woman: Florence B. Price Organ Works; Calcante CAL 014 1997

2001

First Album featuring the orchestral music of Florence Price released:

  • Florence Price: The Oak, Mississippi River Suite, and Symphony no. 3 / Women’s Philharmonic. Koch International Classics, 2001.

2009

Many of Price's works were found in an old cottage outside of St. Anne, Illinois. Among these were two previously unknown violin concerti and her fourth symphony.

2013

Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs Mississippi River Suite. Mei-Ann Chen conducts. (Source 1  2)

Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra Perform Price's First Symphony (Source)

2015

World Premiere: String Quartet in G. University of Arkansas, Er-Gene Kahng, Ryan Cockerham, violins; Tazonio Anderson, viola; Patrick Bellah, cello. (Video)

2018

Many major media outlets and orchestras begin to seek opportunities to perform her music. both violin concerti and the fourth symphony receive their world premieres.

Concert Overture No. 2 Premiered by BBC Concert Orchestra, Jane Glover conducting. (Source: 1  2 • 3)

World Premiere of Symphony No. 4

 

 

Further Reading

Marian Anderson connections.

Interesting musical connections between Little Rock and Chicago.

Passed Away is the Piano Girl

Meet the women of the Chicago Black Renaissance

Florence Price and the Politics of Her Existence

Chen honors long-neglected composer

A STUDY OF THE LIVES AND WORKS OF FIVE BLACK WOMEN COMPOSERS
IN AMERICA
 (1975)

When Women Play: The Relationship between Musical Instruments and Gender Style

 

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Jordan Randall Smith is the Music Director of Symphony Number One.