Florence Price: Three Roses

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. by John Michael Cooper


For piano (edited by John Michael Cooper)

I. To a Yellow Rose
II. To a White Rose (Versions A and B)
III. To a Red Rose

The three compositions here presented under the title Three Roses are contained in a diffusion-transfer negative of a single autograph in Price's handwriting but are not collectively so titled by Price; two of the works (To a Yellow Rose and To a White Rose) also survive in separate autographs. The revisions and rethinkings represented in the manuscripts suggest an extremely recursive compositional process for the pieces: establishing a firm chronological relationship among the manuscripts for the first two Roses is difficult because the revisions show that Price moved back and forth between the documents rather than writing out one in order to supersede another. Most of the differences among the sources are small, but one manuscript transmits a significantly shorter version of To a Yellow Rose and the two sources for To a White Rose are essentially different pieces altogether. This edition offers performers the option of choosing either the shorter or longer version of To a Yellow Rose and gives both White Roses as "Version A" and "Version B," allowing performers to compare and choose. Differences among the manuscripts are reported in the Critical Notes in the score.

Philological ambiguities aside, Price's three Roses are a clear set of character studies on the shades of meaning of one of the most well-known floral symbols of friendship and love; each Rose uses a different melodic style and emotional vein to evoke the different connotations of yellow, white, and red roses. The joyous, dancelike character of the concluding Red Rose suggests that the lovers' union is the goal of the set — but that wish is only made more poignant by the fact that all three Roses were written in 1949, more than fifteen years after Price's separation from Percy Arnett and just four years before her death. Additionally, the works' interconnectedness is underscored by a feature of the Roses that is seldom found in Price's sets: her collections rarely offer any sort of thematic quotation or motivic allusion among the different movements, but here, the long notes of the melody in mm.54-59 of To a Red Rose clearly recall the main theme of To a Yellow Rose — in the same key as that earlier movement.

— John Michael Cooper

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