Jump to content

Symphony No. 3 (Price)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Price looking into the camera
Price, date unknown

The Symphony No. 3 in C minor is a symphony for orchestra composed by Florence Price in 1938. The work was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration's Federal Music Project during the height of the Great Depression. It was first performed at the Detroit Institute of Arts on November 6, 1940, by the Detroit Civic Orchestra under the conductor Valter Poole. The composition is Price's third symphony, following her Symphony in E minor—the first symphony by a black woman to be performed by a major American orchestra—and her lost Symphony No. 2.[1][2][3]


The symphony has a duration of roughly 30 minutes and is composed in four movements:

  1. Andante
  2. Andante ma non troppo
  3. Juba: Allegro
  4. Scherzo: Finale

Price started writing the symphony in the summer of 1938, but later revised the work prior to its 1940 premiere.[1] It is notably different from her first symphony in that it uses less African-American themes; its beginning is almost Wagnerian. Some passages resemble Russian composers like Shostakovich.[4]


The work is scored for an orchestra comprising piccolo, three flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, harp, timpani, percussion, celeste, and strings.[1]


Contemporary reception for the symphony was positive. Reviewing the 1940 world premiere, J. D. Callaghan of the Detroit Free Press wrote:

Mrs. Price, both in the [piano] concerto and in the symphony, spoke in the musical idiom of her own people, and spoke with authority. There was inherent in both works all the emotional warmth of the American Negro, so that the evening became one of profound melody satisfaction. In the symphony there was a slow movement of majestic beauty, a third in which the rhythmic preference of the Negro found scope in a series of dance forms, and a finale which swept forward with great vigor.[1]

Symphonic Reflections[edit]

The piece is sometimes performed in an abbreviated form, suggested by Thomas Wilkins, called Symphonic Reflections. In this format, the first movement is omitted and the remaining three re-ordered (Juba: Allegro, Andante ma non troppo, Scherzo: Finale) to form a fast-slow-fast pattern.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Price, Florence (January 1, 2008) [1932]. Brown, Rae Linda; Shirley, Wayne D. (eds.). Symphonies nos. 1 and 3. A-R Editions. pp. xlvi–lii. ISBN 0895796384.
  2. ^ Oteri, Frank J. (January 17, 2012). "Sounds Heard: Florence B. Price—Concerto in One Movement; Symphony in E Minor". NewMusicBox. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  3. ^ "The Price of Admission: A Musical Biography of Florence Beatrice Price". WQXR-FM. February 6, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  4. ^ Richter, Elisabeth (2021-12-19). "Sinfonien von Florence Price mit dem Philadelphia Orchestra". Deutschlandfunk (in German). Retrieved 2021-12-20.
  5. ^ Robert Kirzinger (2019-03-23). "Florence Price "Symphonic Reflections" from Symphony No. 3 (selected by Thomas Wilkins)" (PDF). BSO Program Notes 2019-03-23. Retrieved 24 March 2019. Thomas Wilkins's "Symphonic Reflections" omits the first movement and reorders the other three to form a fast-slow-fast triptych, beginning with the quick "Juba Dance" third movement, continuing with the Andante second movement, and ending with the finale, marked Scherzo