An Overdue Ovation for Florence Price

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-11-26 01:28Z by Steven

An Overdue Ovation for Florence Price

Little Rock Soirée

Heather Honaker

Photo of Florence Price by G. Nelidoff, courtesy of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

“I am a woman, and I have some Negro blood in my veins – and you will understand some of the difficulties that confront one in such a position. Please judge my music on its own merit,” wrote Florence Price to Boston Symphony conductor Serge Koussevitzky in 1943.

Price was born a Little Rock native in 1887 into a mixed-race family at 2100 Broadway. Her father was the only Black dentist in town, and her mother was a music teacher. She began playing the piano and composing music at 3 years old, and at 11, published her first work. She graduated valedictorian of Capitol Hill High School at the age of 14 and went on to study at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston at 16.

One of only three Black students at the conservatory, Price was counseled by her mother to list her hometown as Pueblo, Mexico, to conceal her race. She graduated with honors in three years with a double-major in organ performance and piano teaching.

After school, she came home to teach at Cotton Plant Academy and then Shorter College before moving to Atlanta to become head of the Clark College Music Department. In 1912, she returned to Little Rock to marry attorney Thomas Price and raise a family.

Racial tensions caused them to move to Chicago in 1927, and it wasn’t long before she and her husband divorced. There, she attended classes to perfect her craft, played the organ for silent film screenings and wrote songs for radio ads…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,