ed. John Michael Cooper

  • Piano
  • 2 min

Programme Note

Published here for the first time, Price's Child Asleep was composed on July 6, 1932 — the fifteenth birthday of her firstborn daughter, Florence Louise (1917-75). The work bears the sub-heading "To my daughter, Florence" — a circumstance that explains the composition's warm and tender tone. In that first incarnation it was titled Baby Asleep, but Price then (apparently soon after the original composition, judging from the handwriting) revised it and changed its title in that process. This circumstance suggests that the work is a nostalgic reflection on an earlier chapter in the Prices' life — a musical reminiscence of her own motherhood, the family's life in Arkansas, and perhaps also her marriage to Thomas Jewell Price, which had ended in divorce a year earlier, in January, 1931. Like many of Price's compositions, its brevity and unassuming style are deceptive, disguising an ingeniously terraced tonal design that begins and ends with F major, but whose middle section suggests (but does not state) the twice-removed tonal center of E-flat major before moving to the two most remote keys available, first E major and then G-flat major via the latter's dominant. But for all this harmonic artifice — the work of a composer of exceptional prowess — the work never loses its lullaby-like air of maternal intimacy and love.

— John Michael Cooper