Florence Price

Florence Price was the first African American woman to achieve national recognition for her accomplishments as a symphonic composer.

Florence Price was the first African American woman to achieve national recognition for her accomplishments as a symphonic composer.

This digital collection is a selection of materials available to researchers in the Florence Price collections at the University of Arkansas. To reflect the rich diversity of her papers, the content includes: correspondence, photographs, concert programs, and biographical documents. Our focus is on Ms. Price's professional career and the digitized materials are intended to aid scholars in studying her life accomplishments.

While the database provides improved remote access, patrons should be reminded that this is a selection of the materials that are available. Dedicated researchers are encouraged to consult the detailed finding aids, which are linked here:

About Florence Price

Florence Beatrice Price was born April 9, 1888 in Little Rock Arkansas.

She studied composition and organ at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and afterwards taught as a pianist in the music departments at Shorter College in Arkansas (1906-1910), and Clark University in Georgia (1910-1912).

In 1926 Florence Price and her family moved to Chicago, Illinois where her music career was to flourish. She discovered many opportunities for developing her talents as a teacher and professional musician. Seizing the opportunity to further her education, Price enrolled at the Chicago Music College where she studied orchestration and harmony under such illustrious instructors as Carl Busch, Wesley LaViolette, and Arthur Olaf Anderson. It is also during this period of her life that Price met Leo Sowerby, who was an influential composer of church music.

It was in the early 1930s that her career rose appreciably. Price's first major orchestral work was Symphony in E minor which was premiered by the Chicago Symphony in 1933. It was the first symphonic work by an African American woman to be performed by a major orchestra. This performance solidified Florence Price's reputation as a concert pianist and composer, and her popularity would continue to grow.

In 1940 Price became a member of the National Association for American Composers and Conductors. She was sponsored by, John Alden Carpenter, a prominent composer who was a great admirer of her work. Price's music even attracted the talents of a premier performer and national celebrity of her day. Her "Songs to the Dark Virgin" was performed by the renowned singer Marian Anderson to great public acclaim. That concert attracted the attention and praise of Eleanor Roosevelt who attended a rehearsal while visiting the Federal Music Projects in Detroit. Price was invited to visit with the first lady at the White House.

Throughout her career, Florence Price achieved many notable accomplishments. She excelled as a teacher, composer and an accomplished pianist. Price maintained the respect and admiration of a long list of notable musical performers and publishers including: William Grant Still, John Allen Carpenter, Leo Sowerby, Margaret Bonds, Marian Anderson, Todd Duncan and Roland Hayes. Despite setbacks due to prejudices of race and gender, her musical compositions came to be enjoyed by a national audience. Florence Price remains today a formidable representative of the musical culture that flourished during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s.

Project and Technical Notes

The University Libraries project team was composed of Geoffery Stark, Project Curator; Misha Gardner, Project Curator; Joshua Youngblood, Subject Specialist; Lori Birrell, Head of Special Collections; Drew  Beisswenger, Subject Cataloger; Deborah E. Kulczak, Head of Technical Services and Database Maintenance; and Martha A. Anderson, Digital Services Librarian.

Images were processed by Digital Services personnel, including the Digital Services Coordinator, Lee A. Holt, Dexter Fairweather, Ryan Goodwin, Cameron Henley, Wendy McLean, Cassidy McManus, Hannah Mills, Pablo Peña, Alejandra Rubio, and Jessica McMichael. Images were digitized and processed with Epson Expression 10000XL, an image access Bookeye 4 Book scanner, and Epson DS-6500 document scanners. Image optimization was performed using Adobe Photoshop; transcripts were created and encoded using Notepad++. Optical character recognition (OCR) was added using ABBYY FineReader. OCLC’s CONTENTdm digital asset management software was used for displaying the exhibit. Dublin Core standards, Library of Congress Name Authorities, the Art and Architectural Thesaurus, and the University of Arkansas Libraries CONTENTdm Cookbook were used in creating the metadata. The project was completed in April 2018.

Dylan Hurd and Beth Juhl from Web Services contributed to the webpage design.