Florence Price

When the Chicago Symphony Orchestra included the Symphony No.1 by Florence Beatrice Price (1887 – 1953) in its programme in 1933, this marked the first time that a major American orchestra performed a piece by a female Afro-American composer. On her journey to this point, Florence Price had had to overcome numerous prejudices, social disadvantages and institutional obstacles. Today, a new perspective of music history that includes a reflection of these very conditions has allowed for a new interest in her person, resulting in quite a few CD-recordings of her work.

Florence Price war born in Little Rock, Arkansas, as the daughter of a middle-class family. Because none of the local music teachers would accept Black pupils, her mother took over her musical education. Price studied at the New England Conservatory from 1903 to 1906 before returning to her home town, where she taught piano and married a lawyer. A decisive point in her career occurred when she left the provinces for Chicago, where she found great support within the Black community, won several competitions and managed to make a name for herself in the metropolitan musical scene up to the point where the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed her symphony.

In terms of style, Price represented a conservative position informed by Dvořák and the Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, although she also integrated elements of Afro-American music culture into her work. It is precisely these influences that lend her work vivacity and distinguish it from the academism of her contemporaries.

As of June 2022.

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