Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Florence B. Price, First African American Woman To Compose A Symphony Performed By A Major Orchestra, Was Born April 9, 1887

Florence B. Price: Concerto in One Movement and Symphony in E Minor
Recorded Music of the African Diaspora, Vol. 3
 CBMR/Albany Records TROY1295 (2011)

Florence B. Price (1887-1953)

Florence B. Price was born on April 9, 1887. Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,, has generously made his research on her available to Marian Anderson was among many singers who used her arrangements of Negro spirituals. Price was born and raised in Little Rock, where her mother, Florence Gulliver Smith, owned a restaurant, and her father, James H. Smith, was the city's only Black dentist. The child's first piano teacher was her mother. 
Dr. De Lerma writes: In elementary school she was a student of Charlotte Andrews Stephens. Her first work was published when she was 11.” He continues: “In 1903, having graduated from Capitol High School, she entered the New England Conservatory (B.M., 1906, organ and piano performance) studying with Frederick S. Converse and George Whitefield Chadwick (music theory), and Henry M. Dunham (organ), starting to think seriously about composition.” 
Price taught for a year at Cotton Plant-Arkadelphia in Arkansas, and served on the faculties of Shorter College (1906-1910) and Atlanta's Clark University (1910-1912), before returning to Little Rock to teach music privately and compose. “In 1912 Florence B. Price married Thomas J. Price, an attorney in Little Rock. Prof. De Lerma tells us: Little Rock had been a comfortable city for Black residents, but racial problems began to develop and she moved with her husband, attorney Thomas J. Price, and their two daughters to Chicago in 1927 or 1928.” The marriage did not endure, and Price and her children found themselves in difficult financial circumstances for a time.

On April 7, 2014 AfriClassical posted:

Barbara Wright-Pryor: 'Maude Roberts George...President of CMA of which Price was a member, underwrote the cost of the June 15, 1933 concert.' 

Barbara Wright-Pryor has documented that the President of the Chicago Music Association paid $250 to cover the cost of a single performance of the Price Symphony by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on June 15, 1933.  This information adds important context to the historical account of the performance with which Florence B. Price made history.

Comment by email:
Dear Bill,
Thank you very much for the birthday post on Florence Price.  Florence was also saluted on her Facebook page, Florence Beatrice Price, Composer.  To wit:
"Today is my 127th birthday~! Happy Birthday ♪♫•*•.¸♥¸.•*•♫♪ to me ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪...Happy Birthday ♪♫•*•.¸♥¸.•*•♫♪ to me. ♪♫•*•.¸♥¸.•*•♫♪ Won't you celebrate my birthday by looking me up on and by championing my music~!♪♫•*•.¸♥¸.•*•♫♪♪♫•*•.¸♥¸.•*•♫♪"
Facebook members will be able to view the salute at
Marian Anderson was also saluted on the Chicago Music Association, Br. No 1, NANM Facebook Page thusly: 
 "Today, April 9, 2014 is the 75th anniversary of my Easter Sunday concert performed on the steps of The Lincoln Memorial in OUR nation's capitol, Washington, D. C. because the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to allow me to perform in Constitution Hall because I was Black.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest and helped arrange that historic concert performed at the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1919, I was the winner of the first National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. (NANM) scholarship awarded in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Music Association hosted that historical convention that led to the founding of NANM, Inc.

Yesterday, April 8, 2014 was the 21st anniversary of my death due to heart failure."
Musically yours,
Barbara Wright-Pryor

Chicago Music Association

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