Rediscovering Florence Price’s music

Posted on: January 30, 2018

“In 2009, Vicki and Darrell Gatwood, of St. Anne, Illinois, were preparing to renovate an abandoned house on the outskirts of town,” writes Alex Ross in the February 5 issue of the New Yorker. “The Gatwoods made a curious discovery: piles of musical manuscripts, books, personal papers, and other documents. The name that kept appearing in the materials was that of Florence Price…. The dilapidated house had once been her summer home.… The collection contained dozens of Price scores that had been thought lost.… Price’s major works [have] begun to receive recordings and performances, and these are still infrequent…. She is widely cited as one of the first African-American classical composers to win national attention, and she was unquestionably the first black woman to be so recognized. Yet she is mentioned more often than she is heard.… Beginning in 1931, Price wrote or sketched a total of four symphonies…. The Fourth, whose score turned up in the St. Anne house, will receive its première by the Fort Smith Symphony, in Arkansas, in May.… Listening to her, I have the uncanny sense of hearing the symphonies and operas that women and African-Americans were all but barred from writing.”

Posted January 30, 2018

Florence Price photo courtesy Arkansas Educational Television Network