Florence Price: On a Quiet Lake

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


On a Quiet Lake was first composed on 23 June 1929 and substantially revised at some point later on. It is among the earliest of Price's many character pieces based on themes of nature and perhaps the most evocative of her several works based on water imagery (closely followed by "Lake Mirror" from the masterful late set Snapshots [1952]). The opening measures establish the main theme and its characteristic motive of the rising third in the tenor register, with shimmering sixteenth notes above and a quiet pedal point below. Although the sixteenth notes and their glistening calm abate only in the final bars and the piece as a whole is firmly in G major, Price ingeniously avoids stagnation partly through variations in the melody itself, partly through rich harmonic moves such as the sequence of descending dominant-ninth chords in mm. 15-19, and partly by moving from the initially undulating imagery of the accompaniment to a flowing accompanimental motive that spans an octave and a half in the lower registers in mm. 20-25. Especially brilliant is the climax created by the artfully understated change from forte to piano and full voicing to exquisitely transparent voicing at mm. 36-37, preparing a subdued return of the main theme in its original form. These moments and others like them combine to make On a Quiet Lake an early — if also previously unknown — masterpiece that foretells the richness of musical imagination for which Price would be justly celebrated in her later career.

— John Michael Cooper

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