Session Report: Recording Florence Price’s Second Violin Concerto

RBP 3302 email c Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and conductor Jonathon Heyward speak to Harry White about recording Florence Price’s lost-and-found late work, the Second Violin Concerto

Explore more Featured Stories  like this in The Strad Playing Hub

Read more premium content for subscribers here

You could easily have forgiven Florence Price had she thrown in the towel at the start of the 1930s. The African–American composer was newly divorced and struggling financially in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash. Her prospects were looking bleak. But she was not just an extraordinary musical talent – she was an extraordinary personality. Looking back at her career, and in spite of the self-described ‘handicaps… of sex and race’, she could already cite gravity defying leaps in the musical world.

Having graduated with honours from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 1906, aged only 19, she followed up with an appointment as head of music at what is now known as Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. By 1912, she had married the lawyer Thomas J. Price and moved back to her childhood home in Little Rock, Arkansas, spending the next 15 years raising her children alongside teaching and composing. Then everything changed. Growing racial tensions compelled the family to up sticks and go to Chicago. In less than five years her marriage was over and, a single mother in the midst of an economic depression, she was forced to move in with the family of a friend, Margaret Bonds. But by the late summer of 1933, against all the odds, she had claimed first prize in the elite Rodman Wanamaker Contest in Musical Composition for Composers of the Negro Race; her first symphony had been premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and the Chicago Daily News  had heralded her genius. Six years later, her music was being performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, to an audience exceeding 75,000 and broadcast to millions across the US…

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Subscribe to continue reading…

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. For a limited period, you can try an online subscription to The Strad completely free of charge.

  • Free 7-day trial

    Not sure about subscribing? Sign up now to read this article in full and you’ll also receive unlimited access to premium online content, including the digital edition and online archive for 7 days.

    No strings attached – we won’t ask for your card details

  • Subscribe 

    No more paywalls. To enjoy the best in-depth features and analysis from The Strad’s latest and past issues, upgrade to a subscription now. You’ll also enjoy regular issues and special supplements* and access to an online archive of issues back to 2010.


* Issues and supplements are available as both print and digital editions. Online subscribers will only receive access to the digital versions.