ed. John Michael Cooper

  • Piano
  • 2 min

Programme Note

Teaching was pervasive in Florence Price's life as a musician. Her work on the music faculties of Shorter College and Clark College is routinely cited in biographical studies, as is her relationship with Margaret Bonds (although the latter was apparently never a formal teacher-student relationship). But in addition to these activities she taught music privately for some forty years, from shortly after her return to Arkansas in 1912 until her final years. A thorough investigation of her work as a teacher — and, consequently, her pedagogical influence and the musical-stylistic influence she exerted through her pedagogy — remain urgent desiderata for future investigations. She published some of her pedagogical works during her lifetime and Lia Jensen-Abbott (Albion College) has published two collections devoted specifically to her easier pedagogical works for piano. Even so, scholars have yet to address the significance of the fact that over some four decades dozens of fortunate students were introduced to the world of the piano, and that of music generally, not only through the usual pedagogical repertoire composed predominantly by White men (most of them European), but rather through works that Florence Beatrice Price had composed specifically for that purpose. What is more, some of those students' own students further benefited from that Priceian foundation.

The present volume marks the first publication of Price's Etude for piano solo. The work exemplifies the synthesis of pedagogy and compositional interest often found in Price's study-pieces. As described by Jonathan Bellman, "the challenges are: chord-blocking, memory, evenness, agility, and above all confidence in getting around the keyboard." But the Etude is also "clearly written to be 'fun' for youngsters: with sudden funny 'wrong' notes, big pauses, glissandi at the end, etc.… Once a student breaks the speed barrier and knows the feeling of playing fast without tension, the piece would function well as a study in the kind of technique used in Liszt's Paganini Étude No. 4 in E major, in its revised version; it takes on a wonderful, glittering texture and sound-world."

— John Michael Cooper