Florence Price


Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Florence Price (1887–1953) is known as the first African-American woman to have an orchestral piece played by a major American orchestra: her Symphony in E Minor was performed by Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. After she earned two artist diplomas at the New England Conservatory, beginning her studies at the age of 16, Price’s early career was as an educator based in the South, first at two schools in Little Rock, and then eventually as the head of the music department at Clark University in Atlanta until 1912. Her life in Chicago began after her family joined the Great Migration and moved north following racial incidents in 1927. This move led to a burst of compositional creativity and widespread recognition for Price’s compositions beginning in the 1930s. By the end of her life, Price’s works numbered over 300 (unfortunately most remain unpublished). She is perhaps best known for her vocal works (including two songs that appear on baritone Thomas Hampson’s 2018 Cedille album, Songs from Chicago); her Spiritual arrangements were frequently performed during her lifetime by singers such as Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price and remain important to the American vocal canon.

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