Belated recognition for Florence Price’s concertos and symphonies

Posted on: February 12, 2018

“By her own admission, composer Florence Price had two strikes against her,” writes Tom Huizenga on Friday (2/9) at National Public Radio. “ ‘I have two handicaps—those of sex and race. I am a woman; and I have some Negro blood in my veins,’ is how she began a 1943 letter to Serge Koussevitzky, the revered conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.… Price is finally receiving a little belated recognition. There’s a profile in the New Yorker by Alex Ross and a new recording of two recently discovered Violin Concertos.” The recording, on the Albany label, features Ryan Cockerham leading the Janacek Philharmonic, with Er-Gene Kahng, concertmaster of the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, as soloist. “Price completed her Violin Concerto No. 2 in 1952…. The concerto … is reminiscent of the sweeping, melody-driven American violin concertos of the 1930s by Samuel Barber and Erich Korngold.… On June 15, 1933, conductor Frederick Stock debuted [Price’s Symphony in E minor] with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra … [securing] Price her place in history as the first African American woman to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra.”

Posted February 12, 2018

In photo: Composer Florence Price (above left) and Er-Gene Kahng (above right), concertmaster of the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra. Two of Price’s violin concertos, considered lost for decades, have been newly recorded, and the Arkansas Philharmonic performs Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2 on Saturday, February 17, with Kahng as soloist. Price photo: G. Nelidoff/Florence Price Papers, University of Arkansas Libraries.