You are here
Opera and lyrical music
Shop — Sheet Music Plus
Results for William Grant Still Still:
African-American Symphony, Kaintuck (tone-poem), Troubled Island (opera).
Still is perhaps the best-known African-American classical composer of the 20th century. His Symphony No. 1 (Afro-American) garnered him considerable fame upon its 1931 premiere, under Howard Hanson, leading the Eastman Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Though Black composers had existed in American since the colonial era, this was the first work by an African-American to be performed by a major American orchestra. Blues suffuse the opening bars, and are woven, like jazz, throughout the work, though the symphony’s form is that of a tradition four-movement symphony.
The beautiful and long unrecorded Symphony No. 2 in G minor (Song of New Race), first conducted in 1937 by Leopold Stokowski with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, finally received its premiere recording under Neemi Järvi and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Still wrote 8 symphonies, 7 operas and more than 100 other works, included such important works as Levee Land and Sahdji. As the ClassicalMusicDetroit.com site notes, he was a pioneer in many ways: as the first Black person to conduct a major American symphony (the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 1936), to have an opera (Troubled Island in 1949) produced by a major company, and to have an opera performed on television (Bayou Legend, posthumously, in 1981).