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Florence Price

Classical Academy | Composers | Around the World


The town of Little Rock, Arkansas, is known to many as the home of American President Bill Clinton, but this special place also gave birth to the first black woman in America to be recognized as a symphonic composer - Florence Price. Although grounded in the European classical tradition of her musical training, Price produces music that draws on the cultural traditions of America, especially her Southern roots. She trained in piano and organ, graduating in 1907 from the New England Conservatory of Music, and she went on to teach in Arkansas during the next twenty years.


After a series of racial incidents in her beloved hom town, Price and her husband decided to move the family to Chicago. This proved a decisive change for the composer where her career could flourish and where she could study further under some of the key musicians residing in the big city. Forming a close friendship with the young composer Margaret Bonds, both women won prizes in the 1932 Wanamaker Foundation Awards, Bonds for her song, and Price for her acclaimed Symphony in E Minor.


The Symphony, steeped in the characteristic style developed by Price that fused black melodies and rhythms with European influences, came to be premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a great achievement for a black woman in pre-civil rights America. Celebrate the remarkable achievements of this exciting composer with our special playlist of works by Florence Price, including the marvellous Symphony in E Minor.