Friday, February 7, 2020

Overheard at Table 3: Florence Price

Keiko Rajo.  Being a composer myself, I'd say more people need to know about Florence Price for Black History Month.  As a girl in Little Rock, no white people would teach her music, so her mother taught her music.  Educated in music in Boston, she graduated and moved back to Little Rock, where she got married, had a family and then moved to Chicago after a lynching inflamed racial tensions.

1933, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed her symphony - imagine!  The hard- scrabble Windy City, middle of the Depression, the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition a thing of the past, Capone in prison, must've seen like the world was changing but still caught in time ...

She struggled to make ends meet, writing pop tunes for the movies.  Then sometime in the 40's she wrote to the conductor the of the BSO, "I have two handicaps: I'm a woman and I have some Negro blood in my veins."

Interesting how she put being a woman as her FIRST handicap.

She died in 1953, and just last year, some people going through an apartment in Chicago found a box full of old papers and music sheets - turns out it was more work by Florence Price.  Her Fourth Symphony. 

Imagine!  A woman, composer.  How many nights did she spend taking care of the kids and preparing food and working until the early hours of the morning on music that, to her mind, only she may ever hear! 

It always floors me to imagine how so much creative power women have had, even after pouring all their blood and soul into their husbands and children, and to still have something left over for themselves.

Truly an inspiration.
revisiting the pioneering composer florence price - NPR

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