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Watch WPR’s Stephanie Elkins’s Talk On The Life And Music Of Florence Price

Part Of UW-Madison Badger Talks Series

Florence Price
Composer Florence Price. Photo Courtesy of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville

This talk took place on March 2, 2021. Watch and listen here:

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Watch WPR’s “Morning Classics” host Stephanie Elkins give a free, online talk about American composer Florence Price. The presentation includes musical excerpts, images and stories from Price’s life; it’s part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Badger Talks.

Price’s life was historic in many ways. Frederick Douglass stayed with the family when Price was young, she wrote for the opera star Marian Anderson and she worked with poet Langston Hughes, setting some of his poetry to music.

Price graduated with a double degree from the New England Conservatory of Music at age 19, chaired a college music department in her early 20s and was the first Black woman to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra (the Chicago Symphony Orchestra).

Much of Price’s work was lost until a couple renovating an old, ruined house outside of Chicago in 2009 discovered piles of handwritten music. Instead of throwing it away, they discovered it was Price’s and got in touch with the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville which had established archives of her papers and music. This trove resulted in newly published works reaching concert halls and airwaves.

Elkins’ Badger Talk also covers Price’s migration from Little Rock, away from racial unrest and mob violence and toward the Black Renaissance in Chicago; raising two children as a single mom, paying bills by playing the organ for silent films and writing jingles; magnificent music, much of which incorporates African American rhythms and spirituals; early death; and a substantial musical and cultural legacy.

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