Guest Blog: Dr. Linda Holzer on Little Rock Composers

Guest Blog By: Dr. Linda Holzer, Pianist and Professor of Music, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Hometown Pride!

Vienna has Haydn and Mozart; New York has George Gershwin and Aaron Copland; Little Rock has Florence Price and William Grant Still!

AETN will re-broadcast two documentaries on the composers in October, to help prepare the way for historic November concerts by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra:

William Grant Still: Trailblazer from the South will air on AETN at 7:30pm on Thursday, October 17th

The Caged Bird: the Life and Music of Florence B. Price will air on AETN at 7pm the following week on Thursday, October 24th

The seeds of musical greatness were planted at a young age, here in Little Rock, and flourished, leading to history-making accomplishments by both composers despite the hardships of racial discrimination, the Great Depression, and two world wars. William Grant Still, who became known as the Dean of Afro-American composers, had his music championed by Howard Hanson, who led the Rochester Philharmonic in the premiere of Still’s Symphony No. 1 in 1931. Florence Price, following graduation from the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, distinguished herself as a music teacher, organist, pianist, and composer. Her Symphony No. 1 received it’s premiere by the Chicago Symphony under the baton of Fredrick Stock in 1933. Both pioneering leaders in American music grew up in what is now Little Rock’s historic Dunbar neighborhood. Only 8 years apart in age, they knew and respected one another. Their families encouraged them to strive for excellence and achieve at the highest levels. Each graduated high school as valedictorian.

It’s a tribute to the enduring creative vision of the composers that so many years after their deaths, their music is still being honored with performances internationally.

Come listen for yourselves! Historic concerts are coming up in Little Rock on November 9 & 10, 2019 at Robinson Center, and May 5, 2020 at the Clinton Center.

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's November 9 & 10 program, Beethoven & Blue Jeans, includes two Little Rock premieres:

  • Festive Overture by William Grant Still
  • Piano Concerto in One Movement by Florence Price
  • As well as Beethoven’s 3rd symphony

The May 5 program features the Little Rock premiere of Florence Price’s re-discovered Piano Quintet in A minor.

Celebrate Arkansas’ cultural heritage!

Buy tickets to Beethoven & Blue Jeans, November 9 & 10, 2019 at the Robinson Center

Guest Blog: Dr. Linda Holzer on Little Rock Composers