Douglas W. Shadle: Listening to Florence B. Price (1888–1953): Contexts and Challenges

22.01.2024 17:00

Vortrag (in englischer Sprache) an der MDW anlässlich des Konzerts am 23. Jänner 2014 im Musikverein (Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

Montag, 22. Jänner 2024 – 17:00 Uhr – Wissenschaftszentrum Gustav Mahler, Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst (MDW), Lothringerstraße 18, 1030 Wien

Veranstaltung der MDW in Kooperation mit dem Institut.


Few composers have ever generated as much posthumous international excitement than Florence B. Price (1888–1953), the first African American woman to premiere a symphony with a major American orchestra. Over the past five years, concert organizations throughout the world have programmed her music with dizzying frequency. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which debuted her First Symphony in 1933, will add to this momentum with a performance of Price’s Third Symphony at the Musikverein on 23 January 2024 under the direction of Riccardo Muti.

The rapid introduction of a historic composer’s music in live performances and on recordings raises many about how listeners might approach it. What expectations should we have? What are the most appropriate frames of stylistic reference? How does Price’s biography shape our understanding of her music? Drawing from the latest archival and interpretive research on Price, as well as a generous sampling of recordings, this presentation shows that her extensive catalog of nearly four-hundred works defies categorization. As she wrote to the conductor Serge Koussevitzky in 1943, “I have an unwavering and compelling faith that a national music, very beautiful and very American, can come from the melting pot, just as the nation itself has done.” What does a musical melting pot sound like? Listening to Price’s music offers a substantial clue.


Douglas W. Shadle is an Associate Professor of Musicology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. An award-winning historian of American orchestras and orchestral music, he is the author of two books: Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century American Symphonic Enterprise (Oxford, 2016) and Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony (Oxford, 2021). He is currently co-authoring, with Samantha H. Ege, a biography of composer Florence B. Price for the Oxford Master Musicians Series.