Florence Price: Down a Southern Lane

For piano (edited by John Michael Cooper)

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Additional Info

  • Composer
    Florence Price
  • Publisher
    G Schirmer Inc
  • Arrangement
    Piano (PF)
  • Format
  • Genre
    20th Century
  • Additional Contributor
    ed. John Michael Cooper


For piano (edited by John Michael Cooper)

Down a Southern Lane was composed on 29 April 1939. Like Sketches in Sepia and many of Price's other short descriptive works, it is a study in contrasts. In this instance, those contrasts are primarily between the tranquil, serene character of the framing A sections in E-flat major (mm. 1-27 and its da capo) and the agitated syncopations of the central B section in C minor (mm. 28-47). Aside from the bell-like low notes in the left hand in the second half of most bars, the A section is largely through-composed and avoids repetition, while the B section is a study in repetition building to a climax — not only the incessant syncopated rhythm in the right-hand melody, but also the G – A-flat – A-natural – A-flat ostinato embedded in the left-hand chord progression. The resulting effect, like that of Sketches in Sepia, is that of a pair of character sketches embedded within a single, unified experience — in this case, a leisurely and perhaps nostalgic excursion or stroll in the South where Price was born and raised, and where she spent her early musical maturity before moving to Chicago in 1927.

The autograph for Down a Southern Lane is one of seventeen short descriptive works for piano solo composed in 1938-40 and bound together, apparently by Price (Special Collections of the University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, MC 988a 18, folder 27). The volume is unlabeled, but its inner front cover bears a pasted-in autograph label that provides an approximate inventory of its contents: "[in pencil:] B min Fantasie negre -- 1932 / [in ink:] African Drums / Arkansas Jitter / Bayou Dance / Dance of the Cotton Blossoms / Rocking Chair / Andantino / Rainbow Waltz / Thumbnail Sketches / Popcorn / Little Melody in E-flat. / A Southern Sky / Andantino / A Hillside / On a Summer's Eve." At some point after preparing this inventory the B-minor Fantasie nègre was removed, the two "Andantinos" retitled Moth-Eaten Frock Coat and My Neighbor's Radio, respectively, A Southern Sky retitled Honeysuckle, and three works appended: Down a Southern Lane, The Cradle, and an incomplete piece titled A Dusky Fall. The last three works are all dated 29 April 1939.

The present edition follows the latest revision of the sole surviving autograph of Down a Southern Lane exactly. For convenience, Price's da capo is written out; the da capo measure numbers are those of the original statement of that material with bis ("second time") added (e.g., "10 bis"). The location of the original sign to cut to the fine is indicated, and the measure numbers of the fine continue from those just before the da capo. Editorial accidentals are given as ficta directly above or below the affected note, and editorial extensions of tempo alterations are indicated by perforated lines with a hook at each end. The conclusion (mm. 50-59) is heavily revised in the autograph. This edition uses what appears to be the final revision.

— John Michael Cooper

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