ed. John Michael Cooper

  • Piano
  • 1 min 30 s

Programme Note

The manuscript of Impromptu No. 1 is undated, but on 25 June 1926 Price submitted it for publication to the publisher Arthur P. Schmidt & Co., a Boston-based firm that had a strong commitment to publishing music by U.S. composers, including an unusually high (for the time) representation of music by women. The firm declined the opportunity, however, and notified Price of this decision on 6 November 1926. The work dates from relatively early in Price's composing career and reveals little of the genius for integrating conventional White styles and Black vernacular idioms that characterizes much of her later music, but it is still the work of a mature composer. By designating it an impromptu, she gave it the genre's usual connotation of brief, unstudied spontaneity. Yet two signature facets of her later style are already clearly visible: her talent for writing material in clearly delineated sections that contrast strongly but are unified by a subtle but distinct musical gesture; and her surefire dramatic pacing. The former is evident in the chromatic chains that are immediately obvious in the A sections (mm. 1-32 and 75-89) but appear only gradually in the B section, and the latter is evident in the coda (mm. 90ff.), which begins with two bars of an augmented sonority and becomes increasingly agitated as it leads to the tempestuous close.

— John Michael Cooper