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  • Writer's pictureSimon Rushby

Night by Florence Price

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

#listeneveryday 1 Feb 2021

We return this week, with a slightly new hashtag, and a beautiful song by American composer Florence Price.

Florence Price was born in Arkansas in 1887, daughter of a music teacher and a dentist, and studied piano and organ at the New England Conservatory in Boston. She moved into a music teaching career and married in 1912, but racial tension in her home city of Little Rock eventually caused the family to move to Chicago.

Price became serious about composing in her thirties. In 1932, at the age of 45, she won a composing competition with her Symphony in E minor, which was subsequently performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Unbelievably, it was the first time a major orchestra had programmed a piece by a black woman.

Florence Price’s music is lyrical and tonal, combining the late Romantic European style with American folk songs and spirituals. She was deeply religious and the music of the African American church has a strong influence on her work.

Night is a 1946 setting of words by American poet Louise C. Wallace, one of over 100 songs written by Price. She also composed four symphonies, concertos for piano and violin and many other orchestral, choral and chamber works.

Night comes, a Madonna clad in scented blue.

Rose red her mouth and deep her eyes,

She lights her stars, and turns to where,

Beneath her silver lamp the moon,

Upon a couch of shadow lies

A dreamy child,

The wearied Day.

More to listen to

At the Feet o' Jesus - another beautiful song by Florence Price

This documentary about Price is very interesting - if you haven't got time for it all, just the first couple of minutes will be eye-opening enough. They are underscored by Price's 1932 orchestral work Ethopia's Shadow in America.

A new #listeneveryday post is published every weekday! Comment below or tweet @SimonRushby with your suggestions for future music.

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