Florence Price was the first African-American woman to have a symphony performed by a top orchestra.
A forgotten work by the pioneering composer Florence Price has been rediscovered and performed for the first time in nearly 80 years.
Price made history in 1933 when she became the first African-American woman to have a symphony performed by a major US orchestra, in Chicago.
But her work faded into obscurity after her death in 1953.
Much of it was thought to be lost, until a cache of music was found in her former summer house in Chicago in 2009.
Musicologist Samantha Ege has spent the past two years trawling through those archives to reconstruct her solo piano pieces. Among them was Fantasie Nègre No 3 in F Minor, which was long presumed to be incomplete.
“The music just ended after two pages really abruptly,” Ege told the BBC. She made it her mission to find the missing pieces in Price’s archive, which is now held in the University of Arkansas.
The problem was that, while the piece starts in F minor, the second page ends in a different key – A♭ major.
Using Price’s previous compositions as a template, Ege assumed the Fantasie would return to the original key in its closing passages.
“I tried to imagine where the music could go,” she said. “But I didn’t have a piano [in the archives] so I was really just trying to work it all out in my head.”
The eureka moment came when Ege realised Price “had more to say” in the second key of A♭ major.
She quickly found pages of manuscript that seemed match the first two sheets of Fantasie Nègre No 3 just “gathering dust” in a box on a shelf.
She wasn’t convinced of her breakthrough until she went home and tried the piece out on her piano.
“When I was playing through the music and it was under my fingers it just felt magical. It felt that history was coming to life,” she told BBC arts correspondent Rebecca Jones.
“I sort of had chills thinking about the fact that I am hearing this music for the first time in this century.”
Ege subsequently recorded the piece – the first time it has been committed to tape – for a new CD, Fantasie Nègre – The Piano Music of Florence Price.