Florence Price (1887-1953) [Composer Of The Week]

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
01Florence Price Experiences Racial Prejudice20200302

Donald Macleod looks at Florence Price's early years and explores the impact racial prejudice had on her life and career.

Florence Price became a highly successful classical composer, organist, pianist and teacher of music during the 20th century in America. She was the first African-American woman to be recognised as a composer of symphonic music, and also the first African-American woman to have her works performed by one of the world’s leading orchestras. In collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, BBC Radio 3 launched the Forgotten Women Composers Project, of which Florence Price was one of the championed composers. With the assistance of the composer and educator Shirley Thompson, scores by Florence Price were located and subsequently recorded by BBC orchestras and choirs. It will be the first time Florence Price has been featured on Composer of the Week, and the series is supplemented by many specially recorded works.

Florence Price was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1887. She was baptised as Florence Beatrice Smith, and took the surname of Price once married. Her family were relatively well-off, and were seen as middleclass. Her mother would often host musicians in their house, and she encouraged her daughter Florence to play music, giving her first public recital as a pianist at the age of four. Racial tensions at this time were never far away, and when Florence was at university she changed her birthplace to Mexico. Her parents believed that her future career would be hampered when being identified as black, whereas it would be improved if she were considered of Spanish origin. Florence only perpetuated this myth regarding her birthplace for a year or so. Once she graduated Florence returned to Little Rock. She went on to teach at Shorter College in Argenta, going on to become Head of Music at Clark University in Atlanta. Despite rising so quickly to the position of Head of Music, black teachers at this time including Price, were often paid less than their white counterparts.

The Deserted Garden
Zina Schiff, violin
Cameron Grant, piano

Sonata in E minor (Andante – Allegro)
Althea Waites, piano

Suite for Organ No 1 (Fughetta and Air)
Kimberly Marshall, organ

The Oak
The Women’s Philharmonic
Apo Hsu, conductor

Violin Concerto No 2
Er-Gene Kahng, violin
Janacek Philharmonic
Ryan Cockerham, conductor

Produced by Luke Whitlock, for BBC Wales

Donald Macleod explores how racial prejudice affected Florence Price's life and career.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

02Florence Price And Marriage20200303

Donald Macleod looks at the impact married life had on the life and career of Florence Price.

Florence Price became a highly successful classical composer, organist, pianist and teacher of music during the 20th century in America. She was the first African-American woman to be recognised as a composer of symphonic music, and also the first African-American woman to have her works performed by one of the world’s leading orchestras. In collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, BBC Radio 3 launched the Forgotten Women Composers Project, of which Florence Price was one of the championed composers. With the assistance of the composer and educator Shirley Thompson, scores by Florence Price were located and subsequently recorded by BBC orchestras and choirs. It will be the first time Florence Price has been featured on Composer of the Week, and the series is supplemented by many specially recorded works.

Donald Macleod journeys through Florence Price’s period of marriage to the ambitious and successful New England lawyer Thomas Jewell Price. Although Price subsequently gave up her career as a performer, she did continue to develop as a music teacher and composer. Price also continued her own personal study of composition, harmony and orchestration at the Chicago Musical College. However, at this time racial tensions in Arkansas were escalating, and Price and her family had to flee for their lives to Chicago, where she picked up her career again as a musician. By the time of the Great Depression, Thomas Price found it difficult to find work, and started to become violent. Florence Price divorced her husband, and in the same year entered the Rodman Wannamaker Competition, where her first symphony and piano sonata both won top prizes.

My Dream
Robert Honeysucker, baritone
Vivian Taylor, piano

Cotton Dance
Althea Waites, piano

The Old Boatman
Althea Waites, piano

The Moon Bridge
Vocalessence Ensemble Singers
Paul Shaw, piano
Philip Brunelle, conductor

My Soul’s been anchored in the Lord
Roberta Alexander, soprano
Brian Masuda, piano

Symphony No 1 in E minor
Fort Smith Symphony
John Jeter, conductor

Produced by Luke Whitlock, for BBC Wales

Donald Macleod explores the impact of married life on Florence Price.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

03Florence Price Achieves National Recognition20200304

Donald Macleod traces Florence Price’s life and career after achieving national recognition for her music.

Florence Price became a highly successful classical composer, organist, pianist and teacher of music during the 20th century in America. She was the first African-American woman to be recognised as a composer of symphonic music, and also the first African-American woman to have her works performed by one of the world’s leading orchestras. In collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, BBC Radio 3 launched the Forgotten Women Composers Project, of which Florence Price was one of the championed composers. With the assistance of the composer and educator Shirley Thompson, scores by Florence Price were located and subsequently recorded by BBC orchestras and choirs. It will be the first time Florence Price has been featured on Composer of the Week, and the series is supplemented by many specially recorded works.

Donald Macleod delves into the life and career of Florence Price during the 1930s, by the time she’d achieved national recognition for her first symphony, winning the Rodman Wannamaker Musical Contest. She’d now broken out of the ghetto, and her music was being received well in both white and black circles. This was also a time when she was in demand as a performer, teacher, and also an orchestrator for the Chicago radio station WGN. It was the conductor Frederick Stock who gave the premiere of her symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and amongst those in the audience were George Gershwin. It was a productive period of Price as a composer, and she soon started work on a piano concerto. This work would also be a triumph for the composer, and she started to develop partnerships with different ensembles including the Women’s Symphony Orchestra of Chicago, and also a choir which asked permission if they could take her name, becoming the Florence Price A Capella Chorus.

Song for Snow
BBC Singers
Elizabeth Burgess, piano
Benjamin Nicholas, conductor

Sinner Don’t Let This Harvest Pass
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Mike Seal, conductor

Poem of Praise
BBC Singers
Elizabeth Burgess, piano
Benjamin Nicholas, conductor

Piano Concerto in D minor
Karen Walwyn, piano
New Black Music Repertory Ensemble
Leslie B. Dunner, conductor

Dances in the Canebrakes
Althea Waites, piano

Produced by Luke Whitlock, for BBC Wales

Donald Macleod explores the period after Florence Price achieved national success.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

04Florence Price Battles For Recognition20200305

Donald Macleod traces Florence Price’s career as she continued to battle for recognition from within the musical establishment.

Florence Price became a highly successful classical composer, organist, pianist and teacher of music during the twentieth century in America. She was the first African-American woman to be recognised as a composer of symphonic music, and also the first African-American woman to have her works performed by one of the world’s leading orchestras. In collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, BBC Radio 3 launched the Forgotten Women Composers Project. Championed by the composer and educator Shirley Thompson, Florence Price became a particular focus for the project. Scores by Florence Price were located and recorded by BBC Orchestras and Choirs. It will be the first time Florence Price has been featured on Composer of the Week, and the series is supplemented by many specially recorded works.

Donald Macleod continues his journey through the life and music of Florence Price during the 1930s and into the 1940s. This was a time when she’d separated from her second husband, Pusey Dell Arnet, and she was in a certain amount of financial difficulty, often needing to stay with friends. She eventually moved, with her daughters, into her own apartment in a dangerous part of Chicago. During this same period, she was the first person of colour to be invited to join the Chicago Club of Women Organists, who often gave the first performances of her works. She also became the first women of colour to join the Illinois Federation of Music Clubs, and the Musicians Club of Women. Despite these accolades, Price still battled on trying to get her music heard by a much wider audience. There is evidence of a long correspondence with Serge Koussevitzky, who conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the time. Price, in a number of rather curt letters, asked Koussevitzky to take a look at her scores, and to consider them on their own merit, looking beyond the fact that she was a woman and black. Eleanor Roosevelt did come to the rescue, complimenting Price in the press for her third symphony.

Suite for Organ No 1 (Toccata)
Kimberly Marshall, organ

Sonata in E minor (Andante)
Althea Waites, piano

Sympathy
Louise Toppin, soprano
John O’Brien, piano

The Glory of the day was in her face
Jay A. Pierson, baritone
John O’Brien, piano

Resignation
BBC Singers
Benjamin Nicholas, conductor

Symphony No 3
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Valentina Peleggi, conductor

Produced by Luke Whitlock for BBC Wales.

Donald Macleod explores Price's continual battle for recognition.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Florence Price became a highly successful classical composer, organist, pianist and teacher of music during the 20th century in America. She was the first African-American woman to be recognised as a composer of symphonic music, and also the first African-American woman to have her works performed by one of the world’s leading orchestras. In collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, BBC Radio 3 launched the Forgotten Women Composers Project, of which Florence Price was one of the championed composers. With the assistance of the composer and educator Shirley Thompson, scores by Florence Price were located and subsequently recorded by BBC orchestras and choirs. It will be the first time Florence Price has been featured on Composer of the Week, and the series is supplemented by many specially recorded works.

Donald Macleod continues his journey through the life and music of Florence Price during the 1930s and into the 1940s. This was a time when she’d separated from her second husband, Pusey Dell Arnet, and she was in a certain amount of financial difficulty, often needing to stay with friends. She eventually moved, with her daughters, into her own apartment in a dangerous part of Chicago. During this same period, she was the first person of colour to be invited to join the Chicago Club of Women Organists, who often gave the first performances of her works. She also became the first women of colour to join the Illinois Federation of Music Clubs, and the Musicians Club of Women. Despite these accolades, Price still battled on trying to get her music heard by a much wider audience. There is evidence of a long correspondence with Serge Koussevitsky, who conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the time. Price, in a number of rather curt letters, asked Koussevitsky to take a look at her scores, and to consider them on their own merit, looking beyond the fact that she was a woman and black. Eleanor Roosevelt did come to the rescue, complimenting Price in the press for her third symphony.

Produced by Luke Whitlock, for BBC Wales

Donald Macleod explores Price's continual battle for recognition

05Price Plans To Visit Europe20200306

Donald Macleod explores how the health of Florence Price affected her career during her final years.

Florence Price became a highly successful classical composer, organist, pianist and teacher of music during the 20th century in America. She was the first African-American woman to be recognised as a composer of symphonic music, and also the first African-American woman to have her works performed by one of the world’s leading orchestras. In collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, BBC Radio 3 launched the Forgotten Women Composers Project, of which Florence Price was one of the championed composers. With the assistance of the composer and educator Shirley Thompson, scores by Florence Price were located and subsequently recorded by BBC orchestras and choirs. It will be the first time Florence Price has been featured on Composer of the Week, and the series is supplemented by many specially recorded works.

In her final decade, Florence Price continued to be a prolific composer and teacher of music. At one time, when she was living in the Abraham Lincoln Centre in Chicago, she had more than a hundred students. In 1940, Price was honoured at a convention by Marian MacDowell for her professional achievements and commitment to the cause of black music, and a decade later, Price’s fame had spread abroad, with Sir John Barbirolli requesting a concert overture for the Hallé Orchestra to perform. It was around this time that Price started to plan a trip to Europe. Due to poor health, she was unable to attend the premiere with the Halle. Price did however plan another trip to Europe with a friend, but before they were set to embark on a ship, Price went into hospital and later died.

The Goblin and the Mosquito
Michael Lewin, piano

Concert Overture No 2
BBC Concert Orchestra
Jane Glover, conductor

Five Folksongs in Counterpoint (Drink to me only with thine eyes)
Apollo Chamber Players

Night
Pamela Dillard, mezzo-soprano
Vivian Taylor, piano

My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord
Pamela Dillard, mezzo-soprano
Vivian Taylor, piano

Violin Concerto No 1 in D major
Er-Gene Kahng, violin
Janacek Philharmonic
Ryan Cockerham, conductor

Produced by Luke Whitlock, for BBC Wales

Donald Macleod looks at Florence Price's final years, including a trip to Europe.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.