Florence Price: Ten Negro Spirituals - 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)

1. Let Us Cheer the Weary Traveler
2. I'm Troubled in My Mind
3. I Know the Lord Has Laid His Hands on Me
4. Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho
5. Gimme That Old Time Religion
6. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
7. I Want Jesus to Walk with Me
8. Peter, Go Ring dem Bells
9. Appendix A. Were You There When They Crucified My Lord
10. Appendix B. Lord, I Want to Be a Christian

The brilliance of Florence B. Price in integrating Black vernacular styles and melodies into the idioms of Western concert music is by now a matter of record, as is the centrality of ancestral spirituals to the musical thought of this deeply religious composer. The present volume assembles ten of her piano-solo arrangements of spirituals into a single volume for the first time.

The works presented here are preserved as individual manuscripts; indeed, some have already been published individually. But Price herself collected them into a single brown-paper folder that survives among her papers in the Special Collections division of the University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville. She provided a collective title for the group on the outer front cover of that folder and drafted a sequence for the constituent works on the inner front cover. The outer front cover originally read "FOUR NEGRO SPIRITUALS / arr. for Piano / Florence B. Price," but at some point FOUR was lined out in fuchsia pencil. The inner front cover includes the titles of the first eight spirituals presented here in the order that this volume presents them, and the folder also includes the arrangements of "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord" and "Lord, I Want to Be a Christian" given here as Appendices A and B. The reasons for the latter's exclusion from the title inventory are unclear, but Price obviously did not include "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord" because it was published separately by Oxford University Press (1942). (That manuscript is crossed out and bears the autograph pencil annotation "contracted to," without specifying the contract recipient.)

Despite their common roots in Price's African American heritage, the arrangements brought together here vary appreciably in style in tone — from the joy and uplift of the Underground Railroad songs "Let Us Cheer the Weary Traveler," "Peter, Go Ring dem Bells," and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," through the somber sorrow of "I'm Troubled in My Mind," the religious melancholy of "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me," and the urgency of "Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho," to the jubilant piety of "I Know the Lord Has Laid His Hands on Me," "Gimme That Old Time Religion," and "Lord, I Want to Be a Christian." The arrangements are all accessible to amateur pianists, and all suitable for private, home musicmaking. Most importantly, all are obviously deeply felt — personalized readings of well-known tunes that offer a lens into Priceäó»s own personal faith.

— John Michael Cooper

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