Gathering The Pieces: The Florence Price Legacy

May 4, 2018

In 2009, Vicki and Darrell Gatwood of St. Anne, Illinois, made quite a discovery. They were renovating an abandoned house that was in desperate shape. The grass was overgrown, the floors were sunken and a tree had fallen and torn a hole in the roof.

As they looked around, they came across stacks of papers: musical manuscripts, letters, photos, diary fragments and other writings. They kept seeing a name over and over: Florence Price.

Price was born in 1887 in Arkansas. She was the first black woman to have her music played by a major American orchestra. She had a successful musical career, yet faded into the background after her death.

The discovery of her previously unknown works has now brought her music to the foreground, as musicians across the country try to bring it to life.

In this program, we hear from the archivists in Arkansas who went to Illinois to acquire the Florence Price papers, as well as the musicians dedicated to interpreting what’s on the manuscripts and having her lost work performed and shared.

Also, KUAR made its own Florence Price discovery: "From Spiritual To Symphony," a documentary made in 1994 by Earnest Lamb and Ben Fry. It features rare interviews with Price’s music students and family friends and was found on an old cassette tape.

Tribute To Rae Linda Brown

Musicologist Rae Linda Brown was a scholar of Florence Price and a champion of Price's work. Brown died on August 17, 2017. 

This video of Brown was made by Jim Greeson, music professor and documentarian at University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and talks about the rediscovery of Price's lost compositions.