Rediscovering Florence B. Price, first black female symphonist

Posted on: February 29, 2012

On Tuesday (2/28), Bob McQuiston reviews a recent CD release at the NPR blog Deceptive Cadence. “Born in Arkansas in 1887, Florence B. Price (née Smith) moved to Boston at age 14 where she enrolled in the New England Conservatory of Music, studying with Frederick Converse and privately with George Chadwick. After graduating in 1906, she returned to Arkansas and held several teaching positions until 1927 when her family moved to Chicago. Continuing her composition studies there, she would go on to write some 300 works and become the first black woman in the U.S. to be recognized as a symphonic composer. … The bulk of the album is devoted to her nearly 40-minute Symphony in E Minor from 1932, which the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered the following year, making it the first such work by a black woman performed by a major U.S. orchestra. … Pianist Karen Walwyn provides a magnificent account of the [Concerto in One Movement], displaying her considerable technical skills. She receives enthusiastic support from the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble of Columbia College, Chicago under Leslie B. Dunner, who conducts a serviceable account of an early American symphony worthy of being rediscovered.”

Posted February 29, 2012