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Florence Price (1887-1953)

Born 9 April 1887
Little Rock, Arkansas
Died 3 June 1953
Chicago, Illinois
Era Late Romantic/ 20th-Cenutry

Florence Price’s mother was the first person to recognize her musical talent and provided her earliest musical training. Price went on to study composition at the New England Conservatory, supplemented with private study with George Chadwick. After graduating with an Artist’s Diploma in organ and a piano teacher certification, Price taught at a number of colleges and universities throughout the American south. In 1927, the Price family moved to Chicago to escape racial tension in Arkansas. In Chicago, she returned to school, studying composition once more at the American Conservatory and Chicago Musical College. In 1932, she won the Wanamaker competition with her Symphony in E Minor; when it was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra the following year, Price became the first black American woman to have a work performed by a major American orchestra. She continued to write music in both popular and classical styles throughout the rest of her life, all while maintaining an active piano studio. Much of her music is rather conservative, though reflects the influence of the Harlem renaissance and her southern cultural heritage.

See Also:
L. Brown. “The Woman’s Symphony Orchestra of Chicago and Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement.” American Music 11, no. 2 (1993): 185-205.

The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price. A Film by James Greeson. DVD. Little Rock: University of Arkansas, 2015.

Shana Thomas Mashego. Music From the Soul of Woman: The Influence of the African American Presbyterian and Methodist Church Traditions on the Classical Compositions of Florence Price and Dorothy Rudd Moore. DMA Document, University of Arizona, 2010.