Florence Price: Scherzo in G - Digital

Digital Device Download for piano (edited by John Michael Cooper). (Non-printable)

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Additional Info

  • Composer
    Florence Price
  • Publisher
    G Schirmer Inc
  • Arrangement
    Piano (PF)
  • Format
  • Genre
    20th Century


For piano (edited by John Michael Cooper)

Scherzo is the Italian term for a game, a jest, a joke, or a prank. It is also a common feature in concert music from the 1780s onward. Despite the wide emotional and stylistic range of Florence Price’s works for piano solo, however, few works frankly lend themselves to description as scherzi — much less overtly prankish compositions.

The previously unknown composition presented here is the exception to that rule. Typically for scherzi, the composition is in a quick tempo, light-hearted in character, and clearly sectional in form, with an eight-measure introduction, a jovial A section in G major (mm. 9-24), a more lyrical B section in C major (mm. 25-69), a modified repeat of the introduction and A section in mm. 70-101, and a sparkling coda (m. 102ff.). The work’s lightheartedness is also evident in its wit, beginning with its off-tonic introduction, which seems to start off in the wrong key and never establish or clearly prepare G major. Even the theme itself begins off-tonic, passing through G major only briefly (m. 11), offering only a deceptive cadence in that key (m. 15), straying to the dominant of the remote key E-flat major in m. 20, and finally cadencing in the tonic in m. 24. But if this wit is too subtle for some, Price augments the humor further in the repeat of the A section by introducing a series of accented cadential octaves in the wrong key (B major) in mm. 94- 00 and then righting itself by transposing that material to the home key in the concluding presto. This is a musical prank of the first order: a bombastic coda in the wrong key in the middle of a piece rather than at its end, followed by a “correction” to a less bombastic coda in the actual tonic. And with those gestures Florence Price has given us a glimpse into a rarely revealed facet of her compositional personality.

— John Michael Cooper

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