• Florence Price
  • Meditation (1929)

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)

ed. John Michael Cooper

  • Piano
  • 2 min

Programme Note

Price's Meditation survives only in a single undated autograph. The handwriting, clefs, and other notational features of this manuscript strongly resemble those of the Andante con espressione for violin and piano, which is dated 26 June 1929, although the paper itself is different — so that a tentative date of ca. 1929 is possible for Meditation. There are also stylistic parallels between the works: both are in G major; both create a folklike character in their main themes by emphasizing the sixth scale degree in clear, homophonic textures; and both are cast in a clear-cut ternary form with cheerful, songlike outer sections and a more melancholy middle section in a mediant-related key (the mediant, B minor, in Meditation, and the submediant in the Andante con espressione). And despite their apparently early positions in the extraordinary flourishing of compositional talent that Price experienced in the very late 1920s, both works offer a glimpse into Price's extraordinary gift for understated sophistication as melodist — a gift that would emerge on a larger scale with her three extant Fantasies nègres, her symphonies and concertos, and other works completed after about 1932. In the case of Meditation, this understated sophistication is evident precisely her handling of the mediant. B makes its first appearance as a structurally significant tone in mm. 20-21, and this brief feint in that tonal direction becomes the key of the first strain of the B section in m. 34 — but this first strain describes B minor rather than confirming it, and when B is confirmed in the second ending (mm. 42-48) this is accomplished via a ii 65 - i progression rather than a conventional cadence. The inconclusive character of that central section, prepared already in mm. 20-21 and recalled in the A section's return in mm. 67-68, then sets the tone for the first part of the coda (mm. 80-85), which lands again on B minor in mm. 84-85, and in fact the final cadential move in mm. 88-90 is, once again, neither an authentic cadence nor even a conventional plagal cadence, but rather the same ii 65 - i progression that was so important in the B section. Folklike melodies and stylistic unpretentiousness notwithstanding, then, this Meditation emerges as a meticulously planned musical conception, the work of a skilled melodist who was also concerned with the structural integrity of even her seemingly simple works.

— John Michael Cooper