Florence Price

1887 - 1953

American

Biography

The discovery of dozens of scores in an Illinois attic in 2009 led to renewed interest in the music of Florence Price, performances and recordings, and critical acclaim. Her music combines a rich and romantic symphonic idiom with the melodic intimacy and emotional intensity of African-American spirituals. As Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker, her music "deserves to be widely heard."

In 1932 her Sonata in E Minor for piano won First Prize in the Wanamaker music contest, with overall honors awarded to her first symphony. Frederick Stock, music director of the Chicago Symphony, became a supporter of her music and programmed the work. Price became the first African-American woman to have a work performed by a major U.S. orchestra when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed it in 1933. Though she composed hundreds of pieces, her catalogue did not enter the twentieth-century mainstream canon, and many of her works, including two violin concertos, could have vanished if not uncovered during the renovation of her abandoned home.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887, Price received early training on the piano from her mother, a music teacher. She went on to attend the New England Conservatory, one of few higher musical institutions accepting African-American students. There, she studied composition and counterpoint with George Chadwick and Frederick Converse, and graduated in 1906 with both an artistic diploma in organ and a teaching certificate. After years teaching music privately and serving as the head of the music department at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, Price returned to Little Rock, then moved to Chicago, where she advanced her musical studies under Arthur Olaf Andersen, Carl Busch, Wesley LaViolette, and Leo Sowerby.

Price artist-playlist on Spotify

News

Performances

18th August 2020

SOLOISTS
Kelly Hall-Tompkins
PERFORMERS
Los Angeles Philharmonic
CONDUCTOR
Marin Alsop
LOCATION
Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, United States

22nd August 2020

PERFORMERS
Sequoia Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
Bruce Kiesling
LOCATION
Visalia Fox Theatre, Visalia, CA, United States

4th October 2020

PERFORMERS
Boston Conservatory Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
Bruce Hangen
LOCATION
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

10th October 2020

PERFORMERS
Idaho Falls Symphony
CONDUCTOR
Thomas Heuser
LOCATION
Civic Center for the Performing Arts, Idaho Falls, ID

25th October 2020

SOLOISTS
Performing Selections
PERFORMERS
National Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
Michelle Merrill
LOCATION
Howard University / Washington, DC / United States

Features

  • American Tone Poems
    • American Tone Poems
    • As the season gets underway and plans for future seasons take shape, explore this selection of tone poems by American composers from the catalogues of Wise Music Group.
  • Original Manuscripts of Florence Price Discovered and Published by G. Schirmer

Photos

Discography