Monday, June 15, 2009

Sample 'Silk Hat and Walking Cane' of Florence Price by Pianist Charlotte Mueller

[Top: Symphony No. 3; Mississippi River Suite; The Oak; Florence B. Price, composer; The Women's Philharmonic; Apo Hsu, Conductor; Koch 3 75182H1 (2001). Middle: Margaret Allison Bonds. Bottom: Woman's Work: Music For Solo Piano; Charlotte Mueller, piano; MSR Classics MS 1160 (2006).]

Audio Sample of Florence B. Price's Silk Hat and Walking Cane

Prof. Charlotte Mueller directs the Piano Program of Lee College in Baytown, Texas. She has a diverse background of study and performance of music from the Baroque to the avant-garde. Her CD Woman's Work: Music For Solo Piano is a fascinating survey of attractive but neglected keyboard compositions of Florence B. Price, Margaret A. Bonds, Amy Beach, Germaine Tailleferre, Lili Boulanger, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel and Agathe Backer Grøndahl. MSR Classics MS 1160 (2006) was recorded live at a Conservatory of Music in Norway on International Women's Day. It is available at major music websites, and MSR Classics sells it directly for $14.95.

American Record Guide for November/December 2006 said “...this music is strongly melodic.” All Music Guide wrote in July 2006: "Mueller has an easy-going way of presenting these works [and is] very comfortable with the music, always making sure to bring out the melodies. ... it is great to see some neglected works and composers get a chance to be heard."

We asked Dr. Mueller for permission to post a 1-minute sample from Florence Price's Dances in the Canebrakes at She replied, in part: “I am very impressed with your website. I am glad to know about it and will refer all my colleagues and students to it. I know they will learn so much from your wonderful research and the excellent references to musicians and composers who so deserve recognition.” Excerpts from the liner notes follow.

“Florence Beatrice Price: Dances in the Canebrakes (1953) - The first African-American woman composer to write a symphony, Florence Price distinguished herself as one of the leading black composers of the early 20th century. She attended the New England Conservatory, enrolling as a Mexican, hoping that in so doing she would encounter less racial discrimination. She graduated in 1906. During her lifetime, she composed nearly 300 compositions and was recognized by leading musicians such as Frederick Stock, who conducted the Chicago Symphony in the 1933 performance of her Symphony in E minor, and Sir John Barbirolli who later commissioned a piece from her. Florence’s musical language is conservative yet replete with African-American musical idioms. Her Dances in the Canebrakes carry the inscription 'based on authentic Negro rhythms', and are written in a cakewalk rhythm.”

“Margaret Bonds: Troubled Water (1967) - Pianist and composer Margaret Bonds grew up during the height of the Harlem Renaissance. As a child, she met the leading black writers, musicians, playwrights and artists who congregated at her home during social gatherings organized by her mother. These encounters were to influence her attitudes throughout her life toward advocacy for social issues as well as recognition of women and African American musicians. During her youth, she studied composition with Florence B. Price and William Dawson, later attending Northwestern University where she received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. In 1933, while finishing her graduate degree, she distinguished herself as the first African American to perform as soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 1936, Margaret met writer and poet Langston Hughes, who she referred to as her 'soul mate,' and with whom she continued to collaborate in writing musicals, cantatas and song cycles until his death in 1967.” “Troubled Water, one of Margaret Bond’s few works for solo piano, is based on the Negro spiritual 'Wade in the Water'."

1 comment: said...

This is a great CD and highly recommended! Thanks for bringing an awareness to Charlotte Mueller's artistry. Beautiful playing!