Markwart, Emily

Project title: Florence B. Price: An Antidote to the Whitewashed Classical Music Canon

Department: Music

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Katharina Clausius

"Florence B. Price (1888-1953) was the first African-American woman to receive acclaim for her compositions; however, very little is known about her in spite of increasing public interest in her output. The most recent analytical scholarship written about Price’s music, by Rae Linda Brown, dates from the 1990s. Brown catalogued Price’s lost works and brought her music to the attention of musicologists, but there remains significant primary research to be completed.

In 2009, dozens of Price’s lost works were found in the attic of her old summer home and added to the University of Arkansas’ holdings, along with letters and diaries that I have accessed through their digitized collection. I have also been in contact with violinist Er-Gene Kahng (University of Arkansas), who recorded the two violin concertos, String Quartets, and Price’s important Piano Quintet in a minor, which has not been released. Kahng has generously provided me with the score for the Piano Quintet, which will serve as the main case study for my project. The culmination of this project will be a performance in collaboration with string students from the School of Music.

This project undertakes to rediscover Price’s music, focusing on the Piano Quintet, in the context of its place in Price’s compositional output, America’s early 20th century compositional schools and methods, and current theories of race and gender. The aim is to bring scholarly and public attention to a marginalized composer and to acknowledge Price’s music for its compositional merit and cultural insights."