ed. John Michael Cooper

  • pf
  • 8 min

Programme Note

The last five of the six pieces for piano solo included in this volume were composed on 11-12 November, 1947, and the first piece may date from the 11th as well. Only No. 4 gives its number as its title in the severely water-damaged autograph, but this occurs in the middle of the series of six continuously notated and paginated pieces, making clear that they were composed as a set. The autograph provides few dynamic and expressive indications and no tempo markings other than alterations such as poco rit. and a tempo.

Although the Six Pieces for Piano Solo in the present volume may be understood in some ways as counterparts to the Seven Descriptive Pieces for Piano Solo (1927-28), they are also more obviously indebted to Black vernacular styles. All except No. 5 feature lively rhythmic exchanges and/or syncopations, gapped scales, and pentatonic melodies that emphasize the fifth and sixth scale degrees. Under-third cadences are common, as are blue thirds; and No. 5 is written in a style that parallels the serene, soulful wisdom depicted in the third movement (“At Age Seventy”) of the Three Miniature Portraits of Uncle Ned. The circumstances of these six unpretentious pieces’ composition are certainly obscure, but the same cannot be said of their music — for they veritably glisten with the wit, charm, and inventiveness for which Florence B. Price is rightly celebrated.

— John Michael Cooper