Florence Beatrice Price (April 9, 1887 – June 3, 1953) was an African-American classical composer. She was the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra.
Florence Beatrice Price
Florence Beatrice Price, from a 1942 publication.
Florence Beatrice Smith
April 9, 1887
|Died||June 3, 1953|
|Occupation||Musical composer, pianist, organist, music teacher|
She was born as Florence Beatrice Smith to Florence (Gulliver) and James H. Smith on April 9, 1887, in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of three children in a mixed-race family. Despite racial issues of the era, her family was well respected and did well within their community. Her father was a dentist and her mother was a music teacher who guided Florence's early musical training. She had her first piano performance at the age of four and had her first composition published at the age of 11.
By the time she was 14, Florence had graduated from Capitol High School as valedictorian. She was enrolled in the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts with a major in piano and organ. Initially, she identified as Mexican to avoid the prejudice people had toward African Americans at the time. At the Conservatory, she studied composition and counterpoint with composers George Chadwick and Frederick Converse. Also while there, Smith wrote her first string trio and symphony. She graduated in 1906 with honors, and with both an artist diploma in organ and a teaching certificate.
Smith returned to Arkansas, where she taught briefly before moving to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1910. There she became the head of the music department of what is now Clark Atlanta University, a historically black college.
In 1912, she married Thomas J. Price, a lawyer. She moved back to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he had his practice. After a series of racial incidents in Little Rock, particularly a lynching of a black man in 1927, the Price family decided to leave. Like many black families living in the Deep South, they moved north in the Great Migration to escape Jim Crow conditions, and settled in Chicago, a major industrial city.
There Florence Price began a new and fulfilling period in her compositional career. She studied composition, orchestration, and organ with the leading teachers in the city, including Arthur Olaf Andersen, Carl Busch, Wesley La Violette, and Leo Sowerby. She published four pieces for piano in 1928. While in Chicago, Price was at various times enrolled at the Chicago Musical College, Chicago Teacher’s College, University of Chicago, and American Conservatory of Music, studying languages and liberal arts subjects as well as music.
Financial struggles and abuse by her husband resulted in Price getting a divorce in 1931. She became a single mother to her two daughters. To make ends meet, she worked as an organist for silent film screenings and composed songs for radio ads under a pen name. During this time, Price lived with friends. She eventually moved in with her student and friend, Margaret Bonds, also a black pianist and composer. This friendship connected Price with writer Langston Hughes and contralto Marian Anderson, both prominent figures in the art world who aided in Price's future success as a composer.
Together, Price and Bonds began to achieve national recognition for their compositions and performances. In 1932, both Price and Bonds submitted compositions for the Wanamaker Foundation Awards. Price won first prize with her Symphony in E minor, and third for her Piano Sonata, earning her a $500 prize. Bonds came in first place in the song category, with a song entitled "Sea Ghost." The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Frederick Stock, premiered the Symphony on June 15, 1933, making Price’s piece the first composition by an African-American woman to be played by a major orchestra.
A number of Price's other orchestral works were played by the WPA Symphony Orchestra of Detroit, the Chicago Women’s Symphony, and the Women's Symphony Orchestra of Chicago. Price wrote other extended works for orchestra, chamber works, art songs, works for violin, organ anthems, piano pieces, spiritual arrangements, four symphonies, three piano concertos, and a violin concerto. Some of her more popular works are: "Three Little Negro Dances," "Songs to a Dark Virgin", "My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord" for piano or orchestra and voice, and "Moon Bridge". Price made considerable use of characteristic African-American melodies and rhythms in many of her works. Her Concert Overture on Negro Spirituals, Symphony in E minor, and Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint for string quartet, all serve as excellent examples of her idiomatic work.
Price was inducted into the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers in 1940 for her work as a composer. In 1949, Price published two of her spiritual arrangements, "I Am Bound for the Kingdom," and "I'm Workin’ on My Buildin'", and dedicated them to Marian Anderson, who performed them on a regular basis.
On June 3, 1953, Price died from a stroke in Chicago, Illinois. Following her death, much of her work was overshadowed as new musical styles emerged that fit the changing tastes of modern society.
Some of her work was lost, but as more African-American and female composers have gained attention for their works, so has Price. In 2001, the Women's Philharmonic created an album of some of her work. Pianist Karen Walwyn and The New Black Repertory Ensemble performed Price's Concerto in One Movement and Symphony in E minor in December 2011.
In 2009, a substantial collection of her works and papers were found in an abandoned dilapidated house on the outskirts of St. Anne, Illinois. These consisted of dozens of her scores, including her two violin concertos and her fourth symphony. As Alex Ross stated in The New Yorker in February 2018, "not only did Price fail to enter the canon; a large quantity of her music came perilously close to obliteration. That run-down house in St. Anne is a potent symbol of how a country can forget its cultural history."
Even though her training was steeped in European tradition, Price's music consists of mostly the American idiom and reveals her Southern roots. She wrote with a vernacular style, using sounds and ideas that fit the reality of urban society. Being deeply religious, she frequently used the music of the African-American church as material for her arrangements. At the urging of her mentor George Whitefield Chadwick, Price began to incorporate elements of African-American spirituals, emphasizing the rhythm and syncopation of the spirituals rather than just using the text. Her melodies were blues-inspired and mixed with more traditional, European Romantic techniques. The weaving of tradition and modernism reflected the way life was for African Americans in large cities at the time.
Works for Organ (supplied by Calvert Johnson)
Events from the year 1887 in the United States.1953 in the United States
Events from the year 1953 in the United States.Apo Hsu
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Benjamin Cutter (Woburn, Massachusetts September 6, 1857 – Boston May 10, 1910) was an American violinist and composer. He studied at the Stuttgart Conservatory in Germany, was later a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, then taught at the New England Conservatory of Music. His compositional output was mainly chamber music, but he wrote some cantatas and church music as well. He published several pedagogical books on violin playing and music theory.Chicago Musical College
Chicago Musical College is a division of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.Ethiopia's Shadow in America
Ethiopia's Shadow in America is an orchestral composition that was written by Florence Price in 1932. It received honorable mention in the Rodman Wanamaker Music Contest the same year in the area of piano pieces. The Andante was performed by the University of Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in January 2015. On September 30, 2018, Jordan Randall Smith conducted the Hopkins Concert Orchestra in a performance he claims is the first East Coast performance.Price offered the following inscription:
Price provides the following inscription for Ethiopia’s Shadow:Ethiopia’s Shadow in America is intended to portray:I. The Arrival of the Negro in America when first brought here as a slave – (Introduction and Allegretto)II. His Resignation and Faith – (Andante)III. His Adaptation – (Allegro) – A fusion of his native and acquired impulses– Florence B. PriceFlorence P. Dwyer
Florence Price "Flo" Dwyer (July 4, 1902 – February 29, 1976), born Florence Louise Price in Reading, Pennsylvania, was an American Republican Party politician and U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 6th and 12th Congressional Districts. She was the second woman to be elected to the United States House of Representatives from New Jersey, the first being Mary Teresa Norton, who was also elected from the 12th district. She was the first woman from New Jersey to be elected to the House as a Republican. Dwyer was an advocate for women's rights throughout her political career.
Dwyer went to public school in Reading and Toledo, Ohio after moving there. Dwyer later moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey. She took courses at Rutgers Law School and became State Legislation Chairman of the New Jersey Federation of Business and Professional Women.
Dwyer served as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1944 and 1948. She was then elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, where she served from 1950 to 1956. Assemblywoman Dwyer introduced the Equal Pay for Equal Work bill, which was passed in 1952. The bill criminalized "discrimination in the rate of wages on the basis of sex" and later became a model for federal legislation.
In 1956, Dwyer was elected to the United States House of Representatives for the first of eight terms. In 1962, she co-sponsored the Equal Pay Act, which was passed the following year. In 1970, she helped Representative Martha W. Griffiths to bring the Equal Rights Amendment to the floor of the House after it had stalled in committee decades earlier. The amendment, originally drafted by Alice Paul in 1923, passed in the House and Senate, but its deadline for ratification passed without approval by the required number of state legislatures. The ERA has since been reintroduced dozens of times without success.
Dwyer was not a candidate for reelection in 1972. She retired to Elizabeth where she died in 1976. Her body is interred at St. Gertrude’s Cemetery, Colonia, New Jersey.Jacaranda Music
Jacaranda Music is a non-profit organization founded by impresario Patrick Scott and conductor/organist Mark Alan Hilt. Jacaranda produces an annual classical music concert series of modern music and works written since 2000, as well as rare older classical music with potential interest for contemporary listeners. Jacaranda has been based in Santa Monica, California since 2003. In 2016, the series was named by L.A. Weekly as the Best Contemporary Classical Series.Throughout its 16 seasons, Jacaranda has presented the compositions of Philip Glass, John Cage, Olivier Messiaen, Gustav Mahler, Lou Harrison, Dylan Mattingly, Mark Grey, Florence Price, Lukas Foss, Julius Eastman, Frederic Rzewski, David Lang, Peter Maxwell Davies, Horatiu Radulescu, Franz Liszt and George Enescu, among many others. Musicians have included Grammy and Emmy winner Gloria Cheng, Anonymous 4, Quatuor Diotima, Scott Dunn, Kathleen Supové, Christopher Taylor, and Billy Childs.
Jacaranda's concerts have been reviewed by several publications, including the LA Times, Classical Voice North America, and BBC Music Magazine. In 2018, The San Francisco Classical Voice said of Jacaranda: "To actually curate a concert is an art. It is one of the qualities that sets apart the Los Angeles music series Jacaranda. For more than 10 years… Jacaranda's concerts have been conceived as musical journeys of discovery…." The LA Times has said of Jacaranda that it "is known for imaginative programs of challenging contemporary music."Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed said of Jacaranda in 2013, "With demanding pieces by Eötvös and the famed late Hungarian composer György Ligeti, "Fierce Beauty" was the most ambitious undertaking so far and by far for Jacaranda.…With this concert, Jacaranda grew up, moving beyond local to national significance."The former dean of American music critics Alan Rich regularly wrote about Jacaranda, saying that they produce, "a kind of personalized programming so that you leave each event with the sense of having visited some very smart programming."Since 2011, the Lyris Quartet has been its resident ensemble.Jordan Randall Smith
Jordan Randall Smith (born November 18, 1982) is an American conductor, arts entrepreneur, and percussionist.
He is the music director of Symphony Number One, music director at Hunt’s Memorial United Methodist Church, and conductor at the Frederick Regional Youth Orchestra and the Hopkins Concert Orchestra at Johns Hopkins University.Music of Arkansas
Arkansas is a Southern state of the United States. Arkansas's musical heritage includes country music and various related styles like bluegrass and rockabilly.National Association of Negro Musicians
The National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. is one of the oldest organizations in the United States dedicated to the preservation, encouragement, and advocacy of all genres of the music of African-Americans. NANM had its beginning on May 3, 1919 in Washington, D.C. at a temporary initial conference of “Negro” musicians under the leadership of Henry Grant and Nora Holt. In concert with the Chicago Music Association, its first national convention was held in Chicago, Illinois in the same year. The organization is dedicated to encouraging an inclusive musical culture throughout the country. Within NANM, members lend their support and influence—educators and professional musicians share their musical knowledge, amateurs and enthusiasts grow in their musical enjoyment, and people of all ages come together to share and participate in the musical experience.
Since its inception, NANM has provided encouragement and support to thousands of African American musicians, many of whom have become widely respected figures in music and have contributed significantly to American culture and music history. The organization has awarded scholarships to scores of talented young musicians throughout the country, including such luminaries as Marian Anderson (the first scholarship award recipient in 1919), William L. Dawson, Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, Warren George Wilson, James Frazier, Julia Perry, Grace Bumbry, Leon Bates, Joseph Joubert, Awadagin Pratt, and many others.Over the years, many international personalities have been presented in performance, including Lena Horne, Todd Duncan, John W. Work, R. Nathaniel Dett, Marian Anderson, Edward Boatner, Camille Nickerson, Clarence Cameron White, Margaret Bonds, Florence B. Price, Etta Moten, Betty Allen, Natalie Hinderas, Adele Addison, Kermit Moore, Simon Estes, George Shirley, Robert McFerrin, Shirley Verrett, Jessye Norman, Carl Rossini Diton, Sanford Allen, Derek Lee Ragin, the Uptown String Quartet, Esther Hinds, Ruby Hinds, Wilhelmenia Fernandez, the Hinds Sisters, William Warfield, Benjamin Matthews, the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers, Harolyn Blackwell, Billy Taylor, Delphin and Romain, Greg Hopkins, Martina Arroyo, and Nina Simone (Eunice Waymon).Clinicians and lecturers of note include Carl Diton, Warner Lawson, Frederick Hall, Kemper Harreld, Wendell Whalum, Eileen Southern, Doris Evans McGinty, Alain Locke, Grace Bumbry, Sylvia Olden Lee, James Cleveland, Raoul Abdul, Matthew Kennedy, Geneva Handy Southall, Sowah Mensah, Willis Patterson, Roland Carter, Brazeal Dennard, Robert Harris, and Shirley Verrett.
There are several regional chapters of the national organization. NANM hosts a national convention annually in various cities.New York Festival of Song
The New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) presents an annual series of concerts in New York City dedicated to the art of song, classical, modern and popular. In addition, this organization commissions new works and recordings, including the Grammy Award winning recording of Leonard Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles (Koch), and the Grammy nominated recording of Ned Rorem's Evidence of Things Not Seen (1997, New World Records).Plasnewydd
Plasnewydd (meaning New Manor or New Place in English) is an electoral ward (and formerly the name of a community) of Cardiff, Wales. It falls within the parliamentary constituency of Cardiff Central. It is bounded by the electoral wards of Cyncoed (Roath Park) to the north; Penylan to the northeast; Adamsdown (main Newport Road) to the southwest; and Cathays (Cardiff to Caerphilly railway) to the west. It covers what is now the community of Roath.
The ward population taken at the 2011 census was 18,166.Rae Linda Brown
Rae Linda Brown (1953 – 2017) was an American musicologist.
As a scholar, archivist and editor Rae Linda Brown conducted research on topics in American classical music, Black Music and African-American classical music. Brown authored books and academic treatises on Florence Price and William Grant Still. As a professor and administrator Brown led in the creation of new academic programs at the University of California, Irvine, Loyola Marymount University, and Pacific Lutheran University.
Brown grew up in Hartford Connecticut and earned degrees at the University of Connecticut and Yale University. Brown's doctoral work at Yale catalogued sheet music and scores in the James Weldon Johnson memorial collection at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and comprises Volume 23 of the Garland Critical Studies on Black Life and Culture.In the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s Brown rediscovered, edited, and published critical analyses of Florence Price's music. Brown's work in this area became the basis for a wider recognition of Price's role in and contribution to American music. This recognition contributed to the discovery of previously unknown scores now housed at the University of Arkansas.Brown was a Professor at University of Michigan and The University of California, Irvine. While at Irvine, Brown served as the Robert and Marjorie Rawlins Chair of the Department of Music, oversaw completion of a new building for the department, the development of new academic programs in jazz, and the creation of a doctoral program in Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology. From 2008-2015 Brown was the Vice President for Undergraduate Education at Loyola Marymount University; from 2016 until her death Brown was the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Pacific Lutheran University. In 2017 Brown received the inaugural Willis C. Patterson Research Award for her work in the area of African-American Art Song.Symphony No. 1 (Price)
The Symphony in E minor is the first symphony written by the American composer Florence Price. The work was completed in 1932 and was first performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the conductor Frederick Stock in June 1933. The piece was Price's first full-scale orchestral composition and was the first symphony by a black woman to be performed by a major American orchestra.Symphony No. 3 (Price)
The Symphony No. 3 in C minor is a symphony for orchestra by the American composer Florence Price. The work was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration's Federal Music Project during the height of the Great Depression. It was first performed at the Detroit Institute of Arts on November 6, 1940, by the Detroit Civic Orchestra under the conductor Valter Poole. The composition is Price's third symphony, following her Symphony in E minor—the first symphony by a black woman to be performed by a major American orchestra—and her lost Symphony No. 2.The Women's Philharmonic
The Women's Philharmonic (TWP) was a San Francisco-based, professional orchestra founded by Miriam Abrams, Elizabeth Seja Min and Nan Washburn in 1981 and disbanded in 2004.Wesley LaViolette
Wallace Wesley LaViolette (4 Jan 1894 Saint James, Minnesota - 29 Jul 1978 Escondido, California) was an American musician who composed, conducted, lectured, and wrote about music. He was also a poet and music theorist. As an educator, he mentored Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre, John Graas, George Perle, Florence Price, Bob Carter, Bob Florence and Robert Erickson and writer William Irwin Thompson. Laviolette was an important figure on the West coast jazz scene of the 1950s.