Essay Example on William Grant Still A Truly Gifted Composer









William Grant Still was a very talented conductor and he was the first African American to have Major productions of both a symphony and an opera Early Childhood Life William Grant Still was born on May 11th 1895 in Woodville Mississippi After his father who Was a college educated math professor and bandmaster died when William was a baby his Mother moved the family to live with Still s grandmother in Little Rock Arkansas His Childhood home was filled with the sounds of his grandmother singing spiritual songs When William s mother Carrie got married her new husband got accustomed to the new environment And frequently took William to classical music concerts Leaving His Life Behind For His Music When William enrolled into Wilberforce University 1911 in Ohio he started to study music Near the time to graduate William dropped out and turned his full attention to his music Early Adult Life His well known orchestral compositions include 1924 s Darker America and 1926 s From the Black Belt He was Received the Guggenheim fellowships in the years 1934 and 1935 At this school his musical talents grew He mastered multiple orchestral and band 

Instruments conducted the school s band organized a concert of his own compositions and he Even formed a group of 4 that play the music with himself as cellist He started to think about a Career as a classical composer something that wasn't even possible for African Americans at The time Even though His mother did not agree Still s career at Wilberforce was ended when He was accused of inappropriate intimate relationship with a female student named Grace Bundy After William lost his job him and Grace got married and had 4 children together They never Did find true happiness with each other because they split up and then later divorced Getting Into His Full Musical Career Along with these different influences William was much aware of the ideas of Harlem Renaissance thinkers who had begun to investigate links from the African and African American culture Now William had the musical tools to combine all these influences together into Major classical works Varese s International Composers Guild provided William the Opportunity to have some of his works performed in the 1920s and in 1931 the Rochester Symphony Orchestra performed Still s African American Symphony the first performance by a Major orchestra of a symphony composed by a black American The work remains William s Best Known it featured a mosaic of African American motifs that included not only spirituals But also blues jazz and call and response elements It was also the first symphony to use the Banjo as part of the orchestra According to the Duke University Library website Still's Afro American Symphony was until 1950 the most popular of any symphony composed by an American It touched off a period of sustained success for William Works such as his orchestral Suite The Deserted Plantation found performances at major venues the Paul Whiteman Orchestra performed that work at the Metropolitan Opera House His ballets La Guiablesse 1927 and Sahdji 1929 with a story by Harlem Renaissance writer Alain Locke Were danced by both black and white artists 

Nor did Still abandon popular forms he wrote the Score for the Bing Crosby film Pennies from Heaven after moving to California in 1935 Supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship and other prestigious awards William was able to spend More and more time composing In 1939 he married again his second wife Verna Arvey who Later Wrote a biography of Still was a Jewish concert pianist and he wrote the piano Collection Seven Traceries and other piano music as a result Several of Still s works of the 1940s were rooted in serious events of the day and gained wide renown his 1940 choral cantata With narrator And They Lynched Him on a Tree evoked the violence directed at the Southern Black population and the orchestral In Memoriam The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy 1943 was one of several World War II themed songs he composed Wrote Opera to Hughes Libretto William s most ambitious undertaking of the 1940s was the production of his opera Troubled Island with a libretto by Langston Hughes Still worked on the opera for several years and its Premiere at the New York City Opera on March 31 1949 marked the first time an opera Composed by an African American had been performed in a major house In the 1950s and 1960s Still s music fell out of favor as academic musicians prescribed the adoption of strict Modernist styles Although Still s music was considered too crowd pleasing by some critics Philadelphia Orchestra conductor Leopold Stokowski called him one of America's greatest Composers William wrote mostly informative music for children in the later stages of his career

Expressing the hope that he might thereby foster intercultural understanding He Died of a stroke in Los Angeles on December 3 1978 A reawakening of interest in his music Was signaled by a Public Broadcasting Service telecast of his opera Bayou Legend By the end of the twentieth century new recordings and performances of Still s composition were bringing his music to light once again Sources https www biography com people william grant still 9495333 http www williamgrantstillmusic com BiographicalNotes htm http ic galegroup com ic bic1 BiographiesDetailsPage BiographiesDetailsWindow disableHighlighting false displayGroupName Biographies currPage scanId query docIndex source prodId BIC1 search_within_results p BIC1 mode view catId u baltcntycpl limiter display query displayGroups contentModules action e sortBy documentId GALE 7CBT2310002749 windowstate normal activityType PersonSearch failOverType commentary https chevalierdesaintgeorges homestead com Still html

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