Feb. 4th, 2017

drplacebo: (Neuro notes)
I just realized I'm in the middle of a whole string of consecutive music posts; I guess that's what happens in a concert week.

For the last two months, I've been making Forgotten Masterpiece Friday posts on Facebook. I have a lot of recordings of obscure classical music in my collection, and I've wanted to share some of the best with people who might be interested in looking beyond the beaten path. It's mostly Romantic and early modern, mostly obscure composers (though perhaps occasionally something underplayed by a better known composer)... and I'm trying not to make it all dead European men. It occurred to me that LJ is a better platform than Facebook for this kind of thing, so I'm going to start posting them here as well. I'm also going to try to post my past Forgotten Masterpiece Friday posts here on other days, if I'm too busy to post something else.

The composer for the first Friday of Black History Month is Florence Price (1887-1953). A child prodigy from Arkansas whose first compositions were published when she was 11 and who graduated from high school at 14, Price studied with at the New England Conservatory of Music and graduated with honors in 1906. While at the New England Conservatory, she initially pretended to be Mexican to escape negative social attitudes toward blacks at the time, but at the urging of her mentor George Chadwick, eventually began to incorporate elements from African-American folk music into her work.

Price actually composed very little until divorce made her a single mother in 1931. To make ends meet, she began working as an organist for silent films and composing music for radio ads under a pen name, while also developing larger concert works. Success as a composer came quickly: her first symphony won a major competition in 1932, and the following year the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed it to positive reviews. It was the first symphony by an African-American woman to be performed by a major orchestra.

That symphony is tonight's piece. Inspired by Dvorak's 9th, Price's 1st Symphony is written in a late Romantic idiom, but makes extensive use of melodic and rhythmic elements drawn from spirituals and African-American and Native American dances in its three faster movements, surrounding a hymn-like slow movement.


YouTube recording below the cut. )

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