Fantasie Negre No. 4

From Wind Repertory Project
Florence Beatrice Price

Florence Beatrice Price (trans. Brian Taylor)

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General Info

Year: 1932 / 2023
Duration: c. 7:20
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

First composed on 5 April 1932, the Fantasie nègre No. 4 in B minor is the last of Price's surviving essays in its genre for piano solo, and in some ways the most extraordinary. To begin with, other than the First Fantasie nègre, it is the only one for which exact performance date is currently available: it was given on 15 June 1937 by Marion Hall in a Composers Forum concert of the Federal Music Project in Chicago. Additionally, Price submitted it along with at least one of her other fantasies nègres to the 1932 Rodman Wanamaker Contest in Musical Composition for Composers of the Negro Race, and it won honorable mention in that prestigious competition (in which, however, her Ethiopia's Shadow in America also won honorable mention and her First Symphony took first prize).

Fourth Fantasie nègre juxtaposes African American idioms with those of the tradition-laden genre of the European piano fantasy, ultimately subsuming stereotypically White idioms into Black ones in the context of a densely interwoven thematic structure that becomes telescopically more compact as the piece progresses. The main theme evokes an authentic African American folksong or spiritual but is actually newly composed, and the second subject of the latest version, in G major and likewise original to Price, recalls the classic blues style of Bessie Smith; between these two there is a cadenza-like arpeggiated transitional passage redolent of the piano music of Robert or Clara Schumann. Most extraordinary, though, is the last minute or so of music — a combined reprise and coda that displays the pianist's virtuosity and Price's harmonic technique, as well as compressing the ideas that constituted the previous 131 bars into just thirty-four bars. Its foreground element, certainly, is a climactic reiteration of the B-minor main theme, but mm. 150-53 allude to the cadenza-like transition, and mm. 154-55 structurally reiterate the G of the second theme, complete with a raised fifth degree that produces a two-bar augmented sonority rare in the vernacular idioms of the two main themes. What triumphs in this compressed apotheosis, then, is the African American heritage — the titular nègre — rather than the White European idioms that, symbolically and societally, were conventionally afforded predominance. More than any of its predecessors, Price's final essay in the genre of the fantasie nègre for piano solo celebrates the inherent beauty of a Black musical imagination that was typically segregated out from its White counterparts.

- Program Note excerpted from John Michael Cooper


None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • Adoration (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Wasson) (1951/2020)

All Wind Works