Claudia Roth MdB
“I have two handicaps”, Florence Price wrote in 1943 in a letter to the conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Being a woman and being black, she wrote. Price's statement speaks volumes about the circumstances that this talented African-American composer faced in her career.
Musical genius was, in the popular imagination of her time, exclusively white and male. And yet Florence Price did not give up. She kept composing and persevered in making a name for herself. After her death in 1953, however, her work fell into obscurity – as did the work of so many talented women. Almost 30 boxes of manuscripts and compositions that were found a few years ago in her former house in Chicago bear silent witness to her tireless creative drive. Florence Price is just one of 40 remarkable composers whose work will be performed at this year’s Musikfest Berlin. A total of 33 ensembles as well as numerous solo performers from Berlin and from around the world will present more than 50 works at the 27 concerts of this year's festival programme. Unfortunately, the obstacles that Florence Price had to struggle against as a woman and a person of colour still have not been fully eradicated. Calls for equity and diversity remain highly relevant today. Men are still overrepresented among conductors and composers.
With this in mind, I am delighted that this year’s Musikfest Berlin is once again presenting a broadranging and sophisticated programme featuring works from the Renaissance to the present day, which invites us to remain curious, to question what is familiar, and to open ourselves up to new listening experiences.
I hope that all of the festival’s audiences will enjoy engaging and inspiring musical experiences!
Member of the German Bundestag
Minister of State for Culture and the Media