The American composer Florence Price wrote three symphonies in all. Her first symphony was premiered by The Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933, and marked the first time a composition by an African-American woman was played by a major American orchestra. Her third symphony, commissioned by the Works Progress Administration's Federal Music Project shortly thereafter, was premiered on today’s date in 1940 by the Detroit Civic Orchestra. The score for her second symphony is lost.
Florence Price was born in 1887, in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of three children in a mixed-race family. Her mother was a music teacher who guided Florence's early musical training. At age 14, she had graduated from high school at the top of her class and enrolled in the New England Conservatory of Music, where she pretended to be Mexican to avoid the Ivy League racial prejudice of that time.
After teaching in the South, Price moved to Chicago in 1927, where she won some composition prizes and became acquainted with the writer Langston Hughes and contralto Marian Anderson, both prominent figures in the African-American arts scene, and who both helped promote her music. Price died in 1953, and for a while her music was all but forgotten. Some 50 years later, early 21st century performances and recordings of her works have helped revive interest in her life and career.
Music Played in Today's Program
Florence Price (1887 – 1953)Symphony No. 3 in c Women’s Philharmonic; Apo Hsu, cond.Koch 7518-2