Florence Price will be among those featured in the Forgotten Female Composers project. Photograph: aetn.org
Our Classical Century: BBC to stage year-long celebration of Music
Project includes special prom and live broadcast reviving works of five female composers
The BBC has announced its most ambitious classical music project, a year of television and radio programmes and concert broadcasts celebrating a century of landmarks in music.
The corporation will also mark International Women’s Day in March with a concert and live broadcast reviving the work of five almost Forgotten Female Composers, together with recordings of their works, which have either never been heard or not performed for many decades.
Our Classical Century, which involves BBC Four, Radio 3 and all the BBC orchestras, will begin next autumn and culminate in a special prom in 2019.
Alan Davey, the controller of Radio 3, said: “We’re comfortable celebrating our excellence in other areas of culture – even other genres of music – but less so with classical.
“We get self-conscious, wary of somehow sounding pompous or affected. I’m sure all of us agree that we should be really confident about ourselves as a classical music nation.”
Our Classical Century will launch on BBC Four, with four groups of programmes made by Lion Television broadcast across a year highlighting key moments in the history of music since 1918. It will be linked to programmes on Radio 3 identifying 100 of the century’s most significant events, compositions and performances. It will culminate in a newly commissioned composition to be performed on the first night of the 2019 Proms.The Forgotten Female Composers project will be premiered on 8 March, International Women’s Day, with a live broadcast of five previously unheard pieces in a concert from LSO St Luke’s in London. The project, created with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, includes recordings of full-scale symphonies.
The composers include Florence Price, born into a wealthy African American family in 1887, who had her first piece published at the age of 11, received a double first at the New England Conservatory of Music, but was denied a place on the Arkansas Music Teachers Association because she was black. However, she achieved considerable success in the music movement known as the Harlem Renaissance, including a symphony performed in 1932 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.