Monday, February 05, 2018

Black History Month: the rediscovery of Florence Price

I was attracted to the New Yorker's tweet about this American composer because this illustration caught my eye. Of course I had never heard of Florence Price.

The New Yorker article notes:
The obvious objection that could be lodged against the modest Florence Price revival—Radio 3, the BBC classical station, will also participate by airing previously unheard Price works during an International Women’s Day broadcast, on March 8th—is that the composer benefits from special pleading. If she were not black and a woman, would she be played? But other hypotheticals could be asked as well. If racism and misogyny had not so profoundly defined European and American culture, would as many white male composers have prospered? Granted, the repertory of older music cannot be drastically re├źngineered to reflect contemporary values. The idea is not to replace all performances of the “New World” with renditions of Price’s symphonies and concertos. But her pieces warrant more attention than they are receiving now—especially from major orchestras. The same goes for neglected figures like Amy Beach, whose “Gaelic” Symphony (1896) packs a considerable punch, or William Dawson, whose “Negro Folk Symphony” (1934) is a brilliant, idiosyncratic creation.
I have to wonder if the evo-psycho bros believe that Price was actually discriminated against for being black and a woman. I'm beginning to get the impression they think all charges of discrimination have been, since the end of the Civil War, the result of a nefarious collusion against the truth by blacks and liberals. I will talk more about that in the next post.

Clip from a documentary about Price.