William Grant Still

1895-1978

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William Grant Still, Jr. (May 11, 1895 – December 3, 1978) was an American composer of nearly 200 works, including five symphonies and nine operas.

Often referred to as the "Dean of Afro-American Composers", Still was the first American composer to have an opera produced by the New York City Opera. Still is known primarily for his first symphony, Afro-American Symphony, which was until 1950 the most widely performed symphony composed by an American.

Born in Mississippi, he grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, attended Wilberforce University and Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and was a student of George Whitefield Chadwick and later Edgard Varèse.

Of note, Still was the first African American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony (his 1st Symphony) performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera performed on national television.

Due to his close association and collaboration with prominent African-American literary and cultural figures, Still is considered to be part of the Harlem Renaissance movement.

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6 min

Intermediate

4 min 30 sec

Late Intermediate to Early Advanced

3 min

Late Intermediate to Early Advanced

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Late Intermediate to Early Advanced

1 min 30 sec

Late Intermediate to Early Advanced

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Early Advanced

4 min 30 sec