The Price of Admission: A Musical Biography of Florence Beatrice Price

Sunday, February 9th at 7AM on AM 820 and Thursday, February 13th at 8PM on 93.9 FM and AM 820

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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Florence Beatrice Price wrote more than 300 musical compositions. Some of her works have been lost, others are unpublished, and some of piano and vocal music is still being heard in concert halls. When contralto Marian Anderson gave that historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, she concluded her recital with Price’s “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord.” And since the 1930s, Price’s art songs and spiritual settings have been favorites of artists who specialize in African American concert music.

Join Terrance McKnight, WQXR host and former Morehouse professor of music, for "The Price of Admission," a one-hour program that brings to light the music and legacy of one of America’s pioneering but nearly forgotten composers and takes a biographical look at Price’s symphonic music, songs, and works for piano and organ. The radio documentary includes archival interview tape of composer Margaret Bonds talking about her friendship with Price and Marian Anderson’s performances of Price’s music recorded during “The Bell Telephone Hour,” a popular musical showcase in the 1940-'60s.

Price was born in Little Rock, Ark., but spent her professional career in Chicago. Due to her musical talent and her family’s affluence, Price enrolled at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where she majored in organ and piano. After graduating with two degrees, Price worked as a college professor, a church organist and a theater accompanist. However, she is best remembered as the first woman of African descent to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra. In 1933, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played her Symphony in E minor. That orchestra also premiered her Piano Concerto the following year.

Video: Florence B. Price "To My Little Son" Erin Flannery, Soprano and Terrance McKnight, Piano 

Music heard within the program:

Florence Price: Concerto in One Movement
Florence B. Price Concerto in One Movement, Symphony in E Minor

Florence Price: "Dances in the Canebrakes: Silk Hat and Walking Cane"
Black Diamonds: Althea Waites plays music by African-American Composers

Blind Boone: "Sparks: Galop de Concert" (1894)
Marshfield Tornado: John Davis Plays Blind Boone

Florence Price: Symphony in E Minor
Florence B. Price Concerto in One Movement, Symphony in E Minor

Florence Price: "Hold Fast to Dreams"
Ah! Love, But a Day, Songs and Spirituals of American Women

Gioachino Rossini: Stabat Mater, "Inflammatus et accensus"
Wiener Philharmoniker; Myung-Whun Chung, conductor

Traditional: "Go Down, Moses"
Dvorak Discoveries

Carl Heinrich Reinecke: Concerto No. 2 op. 120 in E minor
Carl Heinrich Reinecke Piano Concertos 1-4

Alexandre Guilmant: Organ Sonata No. 1 in D Minor
Guilmant Organ Music

George Whitefield Chadwick: Symphonic Sketches I. Jubilee
Symphony No. 2; Symphonic Sketches

Florence Price: Symphony No. 3 in C minor Juba: Allegro
Florence Price: The Oak, Mississippi River Suite, Symphony No. 3

Florence Price: "The Oak"
Florence Price: The Oak, Mississippi River Suite, Symphony No. 3

Roland Hayes: "Beau Soir," "Alma del core," "Pity a Po' Boy," "Du bist die Ruh," "Orfeo Vi ricordo o bosch ombrosi"
The Art of Roland Hayes, Six Centuries of Songs

Alessandro Scarlatti: "Se Florindo e Fedele"
Marian Anderson Rare and Unpublished Recordings, 1936-1952

Florence Price: "Fantasie Negre"
Kaleidescope: Music by African American Women

Hector Berlioz: L'Enfance du Christ, Op. 25 - Partie 2: La fuite en Egypte: Le repos de la Sainte Famille - Les pèlerins étant venus

Florence Price: "Dances in the Canebrakes: Tropical Noon"
Black Diamonds: Althea Waites plays music by African-American Composers

Florence Price (arr.): "My Soul's Been Anchored in de Lord"
Marian Anderson: He's Got the Whole World in His Hand Spirituals

Florence Price: "Song to Dark Virgin"
American Classics Explore America Vol. 1

Florence Price: "Toccata" 
Chicago Renaissance Woman, Florence B. Price Organ Works

Florence Price: "Mississippi River Suite"
Florence Price: The Oak, Mississippi River Suite, Symphony No. 3

"City Called Heaven"
Angela M. Brown, Mosaic: A Collection of African-American Spirituals with Piano and Guitar

Special thanks to Hatch Billops Collection, Helen Walker-Hill Collection at University of Colorado at Boulder, Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Center for Black Music Research and New York Public Radio Archivist Andy Lanset. 

Comments [3]


im looking for 'mississippi river suite' score- anybody know where i can find it??

Apr. 24 2014 11:23 PM
waltertaylor from BROOKLYN NY


Feb. 18 2014 12:57 PM
Ben from Houston

Wonderful, entertaining, and informative special on Florence Beatrice Price. Congrats!!

Feb. 15 2014 10:54 PM

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