Michael Cooper

Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts and Professor of Music Michael Cooper published five source-critical world-premiere editions of compositions by Florence B. Price (1887–1953), the first African-American woman to have her music performed by a major U.S. orchestra and the subject of the most powerful and sustained musical revival since the mid-20th century’s rediscovery of Gustav Mahler. Published by G. Schirmer / AMP (New York), the largest publisher of sheet music globally, the works are “Some o’ These Days,” “Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho,” “Placid Lake,” “Fantasie Nègre No. 2,” and “Whim Wham.” “Fantasie Nègre No. 2” and “Some o’ These Days” are featured tracks on acclaimed pianist Lara Downes’s genre-fluid new album, Some of These Days. Both may be heard on one of Cooper’s Price playlists on Spotify here.

—April 2020

Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts and Professor of Music Michael Cooper published the first fully source-critical editions of the full score and piano–vocal score Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s symphony-cantata Lobgesang(Song of Praise) with Bärenreiter-Verlag. Widely hailed after its 1840 premiere as the beginning of a “completely new art-form” and performed at least 26 times in the seven years between its completion and Mendelssohn’s death, the Lobgesangwas later derided by critics such as Wagner for supposedly being unbecomingly indebted to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Cooper’s edition, in addition to drawing on previously never-before-cited correspondence and review and drawing on sources from six archives and libraries in four countries, shows that the work is not a unilinear sequence of movements, as the Ninthis, but rather an audacious experiment in musical time and narrativity, specifically in its transferal of the idea of the “frame story” (after the model of the Decameronor A Thousand and One Nights) into musical form. Cooper began work on this pair of editions (spanning 295 pages and 103 pages, respectively) in 2015 but seems to have survived. 

—March 2020

Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts and Professor of Music Michael Cooper published six new source-critical editions of compositions by Florence B. Price with G. Schirmer, the single largest publisher of sheet music globally: “First Romance,” “In Sentimental Mood,” “Three Roses,” “Your Hands in Mine,” “Fantasy No. 2 for Violin and Piano,” and “Valsette Mignon.” The first four of these editions were released simultaneously by acclaimed pianist Lara Downes on her new EP From the Heart and are available on one of Cooper’s Price playlists on Spotify here. The editions are nos. 19–24 in Cooper’s currently contracted set of 64 Price editions to be released in the near future. 

—March 2020

Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts and Professor of Music Michael Cooper published seven world-première editions of works by Florence B. Price with G. Schirmer (New York): “Remembrance,” “Sketches in Sepia,” “Clouds,” “Meditation,” “Summer Moon,” “On a Quiet Lake,” and “Down a Southern Lane.” The editions are nos. 12–18 in Cooper’s series of 67 editions of Price’s music to be published with Schirmer, and their recordings are part of a series of 17 world-première recordings of Price’s music to be released by pianist Lara Downes in the spring of 2020, all timed to coincide with the publication of Cooper’s editions. Inquisitive and courageous souls will find abridged versions of the editions’ impossibly tedious forewords at Schirmer’s homepage for Price’s piano works here; those interested in hearing Price’s lyrical and deeply original music may access Downes’s recordings for free through Spotify, YouTube, or Naxos Music Library in the SU Libraries’ collection of databases, courtesy of Naxos America (Cooper’s Price–Downes playlist on Spotify is here). 

—February 2020

Professor of Music and Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts Michael Cooper published two editions of previously unpublished works by Florence B. Price (1887–1953) with G. Schirmer (New York). “Night” (1945) is scored for women’s chorus with piano and was given its posthumous premiere by Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Beth Everett and the SU Chorale in November 2018. This work is based on a poem by Bessie Mayle (1898–1959) that was first published in The Crisis in 1930; the poem celebrates the beauty and resilience of the blackness of the nighttime sky as a metaphor for the beauty and resilience of Black experience. The second edition, Fantasie Nègre No. 4, is a milestone in the ongoing Florence Price renaissance. Its release was timed to coincide with acclaimed pianist Lara Downes’s world-première recording of the work (available on Spotify here). The editions are nos. 10 and 11 in Cooper’s series of 67 editions of Price’s music to be published with Schirmer, and the recording is the first in a series of 17 world-première recordings of Price’s music to be released by Downes in the spring of 2020, all timed to coincide with the release of Cooper’s editions. For more information on this project, see here.

—January 2020