From Interlochen's archives: Florence Price's music at Interlochen
Hear the earliest known performance of Florence Price's music at Interlochen, recorded in July of 1942.
As composer Florence Price (1887-1953) and her music have gotten more attention in the last few years, a common but false narrative has emerged that she and her music were “forgotten” until the 21st century.
Apart from a solo few piano works and some of her art songs, most of Price’s music wasn’t published before her death.
Just because Price's music wasn't published doesn't mean that it wasn't performed and recorded during her lifetime, though.
Contralto Marian Anderson regularly performed Price’s songs throughout her career, including at her famous Lincoln Memorial Concert.
Price was the first African American woman to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave that performance in 1933. That performance conducted by Frederick Stock - the same Frederick Stock who was a guest conductor at Interlochen's National Music Camp and the namesake of Frederick Stock Avenue on Interlochen's campus.
Florence Price's music was also known at Interlochen during her lifetime.
The first known performance of Price's music at Interlochen was given on Sunday, July 12, 1942 in a concert that included the Interlochen Band and Interlochen Choir.
The performance was broadcast on radio station WTCM, and a recording of the broadcast was preserved on transcription disc.
Clarence Sawhill conducted the Interlochen High School Band's performance of Price's "Three Little Negro Dances" on this concert.
Price originally composed this three-movement work as a piece for solo piano in 1933.
It was published by Theodore Presser in versions for solo piano and for two pianos and four hands.
In 1939, Erik Leidzén transcribed Price's "Three Little Negro Dances" for wind band.
It was also published by Theodore Presser but the word "little" was left out of the title.
The National High School Band played Price's music in a set that included multiple pieces by Percy Grainger, who was on Interlochen's summer teaching faculty in 1942 and was present at this concert.
The transcription disks were recently digitized for preservation thanks to the generous support of the Hamer D. and Phyllis C. Shafer Foundation.
Interlochen Public Radio's audio fellow Stefan Wiebe remastered the digitized archival recordings.