June 3, 1953 Florence Beatrice Price, the first African American woman to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra, died.
Price was born April 9, 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas. She played her first piano recital at the age of four and her first work was published when she was 11. She graduated from the New England Conservatory in 1906 and was professor of music at Shorter College from 1906 to 1910 and Clark University from 1910 to 1912.
Price’s first major composition was “Fantasie Negre” (1929) and in 1932 she won the top prize for symphonic composition at the prestigious Wanamaker Competition. In 1933, her composition “Symphony in E Minor” was performed at the Chicago World’s Fair by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the first time a symphony written by a black woman had been performed by a major symphony orchestra. Price went on to study composition and orchestration at the American Conservatory and the Chicago Musical College.
Over her career, Price composed over 300 works and her songs and arrangements were performed by some of the most admired voices of her day, including Marian Anderson.
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