Women’s History Month: Florence Price

Florence Price
Photo by G. Nelidoff, courtesy of Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville

Born: April 9, 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas

Died: June 3, 1953 in Chicago, Illinois

Bio: Florence Beatrice Smith Price was the first African-American female composer to have a symphonic composition performed by a major American symphony orchestra. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed her Symphony in E Minor on June 15, 1933, under the direction of Frederick Stock. The work was later performed at the Chicago World’s Fair as part of the Century of Progress Exhibition.

In her lifetime, Price composed more than 300 works, ranging from small teaching pieces for piano to large-scale compositions such as symphonies and concertos, as well as instrumental chamber music, vocal compositions, and music for radio. Her musical style is a mixture of classical European music and the sounds of Black spirituals, especially the rhythms associated with African heritage, such as the juba dance.

You can learn more about the life of Florence Price at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas