Contents 1 Life 2 Career 3 Legacy and honors 4 Selected compositions 5 See also 6 Further reading 7 References 8 Sources 9 External links


Life[edit] William Grant Still was born on May 11, 1895 in Woodville, Mississippi. He was the son of two teachers, Carrie Lena Fambro Still (1872–1927) and William Grant Still Sr. (1871–1895). His father was a partner in a grocery store and performed as a local bandleader. William Grant Still Sr. died when his infant son was three months old. Still's mother moved with him to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she taught high school English for 33 years. She met and married Charles B. Shepperson, who nurtured his stepson William's musical interests by taking him to operettas and buying Red Seal recordings of classical music, which the boy greatly enjoyed. The two attended a number of performances by musicians on tour. His maternal grandmother sang African-American spirituals to him. Still grew up in Little Rock, and started violin lessons at the age of 15. He taught himself to play the clarinet, saxophone, oboe, double bass, cello and viola, and showed a great interest in music. At 16 he graduated from M. W. Gibbs High School in Little Rock. His mother wanted him to go to medical school, so Still pursued a Bachelor of Science degree program at Wilberforce University, a historically black college in Ohio.[5] Still became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He conducted the university band, learned to play various instruments, and started to compose and to do orchestrations. He was awarded scholarships to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Friedrick Lehmann and with George Whitefield Chadwick. He also studied with the modern composer Edgard Varèse. Still was married to pianist Verna Arvey. His daughter, Judith Anne Still, has preserved his legacy as the director and owner of William Grant Still Music.


Career[edit] This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) In 1918, Still joined the United States Navy to serve in World War I. Between 1919 and 1921, he worked as an arranger for W. C. Handy's band. In 1921 he recorded with Fletcher Henderson's Dance Orchestra, and later played in the pit orchestra for Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake's musical, Shuffle Along. Later in the 1920s, Still served as the arranger of Yamekraw, a "Negro Rhapsody" composed by the noted Harlem stride pianist, James P. Johnson. His initial hiring by Paul Whiteman took place in early November 1929. In the 1930s, Still worked as an arranger of popular music, writing for Willard Robison's Deep River Hour and Paul Whiteman's Old Gold Show, both popular NBC Radio broadcasts. In 1936, Still conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra; he was the first African American to conduct a major American orchestra. In 1934, Still received his first Guggenheim Fellowship; he started work on the first of his eight operas, Blue Steel. In 1949 his opera Troubled Island, originally completed in 1939, about Jean Jacques Dessalines and Haiti, was performed by the New York City Opera. It was the first opera by an African American to be performed by a major company. Still moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s, where he arranged music for films. These included Pennies from Heaven (the 1936 film starring Bing Crosby and Madge Evans) and Lost Horizon (the 1937 film starring Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt and Sam Jaffe). For Lost Horizon, he arranged the music of Dimitri Tiomkin. Still was also hired to arrange the music for the 1943 film Stormy Weather, but left the assignment after a few weeks due to artistic disagreements. In 1955, he conducted the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra; he was the first African American to conduct a major orchestra in the Deep South. Still's works were performed internationally by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the BBC Orchestra. He was the first African American to have an opera performed on national United States television when A Bayou Legend, completed in 1941, premiered on PBS in June 1981. Additionally, he was the recording manager of the Black Swan Phonograph Company.


Legacy and honors[edit] William Grant Still received two Guggenheim Fellowships.[citation needed] He was awarded honorary doctorates from Oberlin College, Wilberforce University, Howard University, Bates College, the University of Arkansas, Pepperdine University, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, and the University of Southern California.[citation needed] He was posthumously awarded the 1982 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters[6] award for music composition for his opera A Bayou Legend.[citation needed]


Selected compositions[edit] William Grant Still From the Land of Dreams (1924, believed lost until 1997) Darker America (1924) Levee Land (1925) From the Black Belt (1926) La Guiablese, ballet (1927) Sahdji, ballet (1930) Africa (1930) Symphony No. 1 "Afro-American" (1930) A Deserted Plantation (1933) Blue Steel, opera (1934) Symphony No. 2 in G minor "Song of a New Race" (1937) Lenox Avenue, for radio announcer, chorus, & orchestra (1937) Seven Traceries (1939) And They Lynched him on a Tree (1940) Miss Sally's Party, ballet (1940) Can'tcha line 'em, for orchestra (1940) Old California, for orchestra (1941) Troubled Island, opera, produced 1949 (1937–39) A Bayou Legend, opera (1941) A Southern Interlude, opera (1942) Incantation and Dance, for oboe & pf. In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy (1943) Suite for Violin & Piano, including the movement later arranged for String Orchestra as Mother and Child (1943) Festive Overture (1944) Poem for Orchestra (1944) Symphony No. 5, "Western Hemisphere" (1945) Wailing Women, for soprano and chorus (1946) Symphony No. 4, "Autochthonous" (1947) Grief, originally titled by Still as Weeping Angel (1953) Danzas de Panama (Dances of Panama) (1953) The Little Song That Wanted to Be a Symphony (1954) Little Red Schoolhouse (1957) The American Scene (1957) Ennanga (1958) Lyric Quartet (1960) Highway 1 U.S.A., opera (1963)


See also[edit] Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, an earlier Black British composer whom Still greatly admired List of African-American firsts Black conductors List of African-American composers


Further reading[edit] Janower, David, "The Choral Works of William Grant Still", in The Choral Journal, May 1995. Reef, Catherine (2003). William Grant Still: African American Composer. Morgan Reynolds. ISBN 1-931798-11-7 Sewell, George A., and Margaret L. Dwight (1984). William Grant Still: America's Greatest Black Composer. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi Soll, Beverly (2005). I Dream A World: The Operas of William Grant Still. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 1-55728-789-9 Southern, Eileen (1984). William Grant Still – Trailblazer. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press. Still, Verna Arvey (1984). In One Lifetime. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press. Still, Judith Anne, Michael J. Dabrishus, and Carolyn L. Quin (1996). William Grant Still: A Bio-Bibliography. Greenwood Press. Still, Judith Anne (2006). Just Tell the Story. The Master Player Library. Still, William Grant (2011). My Life My Words, a William Grant Still autobiography. The Master Player Library.


References[edit] ^ Shirley, Wayne, "Two Aspects of Troubled Island", American Music Research Center Journal, 2013. ^ Borroff, Edith, "Biographical Sketch of William Grant Still". Duke University Libraries. ^ Kirk, Elise Kuhl (2001), American Opera, pp. 200–204. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252026233 ^ Murchison, Gayle. "'Dean of Afro-American Composers' or 'Harlem Renaissance Man': 'The New Negro' and the Musical Poetics of William Grant Still". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, vol. 53, no. 1, 1994, pp. 42–74. www.jstor.org/stable/40030871 ^ "William Grant Still", Encyclopædia Britannica. ^ "Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letter Winners". ms-arts-letters.org. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 


Sources[edit] Still, Judith Anne. discovermusic@williamgrantstill.com, Daughter and primary informational resource. Horne, Aaron. Woodwind Music of Black Composers, Greenwood Press, 1990. Roach, Hildred. Black American Music. Past and Present, second edition, Krieger Publishing Company 1992. Sadie, Stanley; Hitchcock, H. Wiley. The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Grove's Dictionaries of Music, 1986.


External links[edit] William Grant Still Music, site with comprehensive information about him and his music Interview, Transcript, African American Music Collection, University of Michigan "William Grant Still; Composer, Arranger, Conductor & Oboist". Extensive info at AfriClassical.com William Grant Still on IMDb Authority control WorldCat Identities VIAF: 116271872 LCCN: n83017389 ISNI: 0000 0001 2103 9770 GND: 119400693 SUDOC: 087886022 BNF: cb13939152f (data) MusicBrainz: ca1ed31b-9acd-4d46-8016-e158b25cd4c8 SNAC: w60r9r0x Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=William_Grant_Still&oldid=823836961" Categories: 1895 births1978 deathsPeople from Woodville, MississippiAfrican-American classical composers20th-century classical composersAmerican conductors (music)American music arrangersAmerican classical oboistsMale oboistsGuggenheim FellowsOberlin College alumniAfrican-American opera composersOrchestra leadersWilberforce University alumniHarmon prize winnersMusicians from Little Rock, ArkansasAfrican-American classical musiciansAfrican-American conductorsBlack conductorsPupils of Edgard Varèse20th-century conductors (music)American male classical composersAmerican classical composersMale opera composersJazz-influenced classical composers20th-century American composersHidden categories: Use mdy dates from December 2014Articles lacking in-text citations from August 2012All articles lacking in-text citationsBiography with signatureArticles with hCardsArticles needing additional references from December 2017All articles needing additional referencesAll articles with unsourced statementsArticles with unsourced statements from December 2017Wikipedia articles with VIAF identifiersWikipedia articles with LCCN identifiersWikipedia articles with ISNI identifiersWikipedia articles with GND identifiersWikipedia articles with BNF identifiersWikipedia articles with MusicBrainz identifiersWikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers


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