Florence Price

The first black American woman to have an orchestral piece played by a major American orchestra, Florence Bea Price’s reputation grew to importance in the 1930s alongside her colleagues William Grant Still and William Dawson.

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About

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Price began her studies at New England Conservatory starting at the age of 16 and took private lessons from George Whitfield Chadwick as well. After earning her Artist’s Diploma in organ and a piano teacher’s diploma, she returned to the South and taught in two schools before heading the music department at Clark University in Atlanta. She married in 1912, returning to Little Rock for several years, and in 1926, Price and her family moved to Chicago.

In Chicago, she began studying at the American Conservatory, initiating a compositionally prolific and creative period of her life. In 1932, she rose to national prominence when her Symphony in E minor won the Wanamaker competition and was performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. A short while later, Marian Anderson performed Price’s My Soul’s Been Anchored in de Lord and Songs to the Dark Virgin, increasing Price’s fame. She continued to teach and compose up until her death.

Price is best known for her songs, sung by many prominent singers of her day, including Leontyne Price, Blanche Thebom, and Etta Moten. Her compositional style combines contemporary influences, such as those of the Harlem Renaissance and African-American cultural heritage, with neo-Romanticism, which was popular among composers at that time. According to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, over 300 of her compositions, mostly songs and piano pieces, still remain unpublished.

–Christie Finn

Related Information

Songs

Sheet Music

Five Art Songs

Composer(s): Florence Price

Voice Type: Medium High

Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

Five Art Songs (JW Pepper)

Composer(s): Florence Price

Voice Type: Medium-High

Buy via JW Pepper

Two Songs (Florence Price)

Composer(s): Florence Price

Voice Type: Medium

Buy via Keiser Southern Music

Anthology of Art Songs by Black American Composers, Compiled by Willis C. Patterson

Composer(s): H. Leslie Adams, David Baker, Margaret Bonds, Charles Brown, Cecil Cohen, Noel de Costa, Mark Fax, Adolphus C. Hailstork, Eugene Hancock, Thomas Kerr, Jr., Charles Lloyd, Jr., Wendell Logan, Maurice McCall, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Undine Smith Moore, Robert Owens, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Florence Price, Hale Smith, William Grant Still, Howard Swanson, George Walker, Olly Wilson, John Work, Jr.

Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

Art Songs and Spirituals by African-American Women Composers

Composer(s): Margaret Bonds, Betty Jackson King, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Undine Smith Moore, Julia Perry, Zenobia Powell Perry, Florence Price

Buy via Hildegard Publishing Company

Art Songs and Spirituals by African-American Women Composers (CVR)

Composer(s): Margaret Bonds, Betty Jackson King, Undine Smith Moore, Julia Perry, Florence Price

Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

Videos

Recordings

Songs from Chicago

(Ernst Bacon, Margaret Bonds, John Alden Carpenter, Louis Campbell-Tipton and Florence Price)

2018


View recording

I, Too

(H. Leslie Adams, Margaret Bonds, Undine Smith Moore, Florence Price and Hall Johnson)

2012

Florence Price

(Florence Price)

2008

Songs of America: Oral Moses

(Aaron Copland, Florence Price, Howard Swanson and Traditional)

2007

Dreamer - A Portrait of Langston Hughes

(Margaret Bonds, William Grant Still, Kurt Weill, Henry Burleigh, Robert Owens, John Musto, Ricky Ian Gordon, Howard Swanson, Jean Berger, Erik Santos and Florence Price)

2001

Ah! Love, But A Day

(Amy Marcy Beach, Margaret Bonds, Libby Larsen, Margaret Ruthven Lang, Undine Smith Moore, Florence Price, Gladys Rich, Traditional and Gwyneth Van Anden Walker)

1998

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

(H. Leslie Adams, Margaret Bonds, Undine Smith Moore, Robert Owens, George Walker, Howard Swanson, Florence Price, Henry Clay Work and Cecil Cohen)

1998

Lucille Field sings Songs by American Women

(Ruth Crawford Seeger, Miriam Gideon and Florence Price)

1987

Books

Black Women Composers: A Genesis

By Mildred Denby Green

Includes chapters on Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, Julia Perry, Evelyn Pittman, and Lena McLin.

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