Last week, G. Schirmer announce the release of a new work into their Florence Price rental library: Price’s Suite of Dances.

Instrumentation:

  • 2 Flutes

  • 2 Clarinets

  • Bassoon

  • 2 Horns (F)

  • 2 Trumpets (Bb)

  • Timpani

  • Percussion - 4 players

  • Strings

Duration: ca. 6 minutes

The editor included the following note:

Some details of the orchestration of this work are not clear. the manuscript does not specify the numbers of bassoons or horns. This edition will assume one bassoon and two horns. In addition, the percussion instruments, with the exception of the triangle, are not specified. Our use of bass drum, snare drum, and cymbal is based on notation used in other Price manuscripts.

A quick perusal of the score reveals a three-movement collection, each of which are relatively up-tempo. The opening movement is marked in 4/8, though the tempo of quarter=132 seems to indicate that it is meant to be performed in two (though a look at the manuscript seems appropriate in light of the editor’s note). The final movement appears to be another example of Price’s deft orchestration of the Juba dance, with its distinctive opening eighth-sixteenth-eighth syncopation. The Juba can also be found in each of her three extant symphonies, Dances in the Canebrakes, and many other of her works.

This suite is particularly notable for its brevity. Up to now, most of the published works of Price have been her more substantial works. I have experimented with performing the three-minute Andante from Ethiopia’s Shadow in America by itself, but its orchestration reveals its place as a clear middle movement in transit between the larger outer movements. At just 6 minutes, the Suite of Dances will make it possible for a complete Price work to receive performances on many additional programs where perhaps the cornerstone works have already been selected and a shorter work is desired to fill out the program. The score is embedded below. There are no known recordings.

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