Saturday, December 4, 2010

'primegirl rediscovered the amazing african american composer william grant still.'

[William Grant Still: Symphony No. 2 (Song of a New Race); William Levi Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony; Duke Ellington: Harlem; Chandos 9226 (1993) (73:54)]

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Saturday, December 4, 2010
by now, readers, you know that primegirl is a serious music fan, pretty much of all kinds of good music, including classical. while tooling around on itunes primegirl rediscovered the amazing african american composer william grant still. it's been years since she heard of some of his work and she is wondering how she could have forgotten it. it is beautiful. majestic. moving. and uniquely american. i would LOVE to hear a copland/still program live!

“the detroit symphony orchestra's fantastic recordings of still's symphony #1 and symphony #2 in g minor* (a favorite) along with one of ellington's symphonies, the river, in 1993 were the inspiration for this very cool website,, which also has an accompanying blog on blogspot. it's a testament to how the arts can move us to action, because the founder of the website was chagrined that, as he puts it, his classical musical education had been so segregated. happening upon the dso recordings (one also has to give props to the dso and their conductor at the time, neeme jarvi, for recording classical works by african american composers) had a major impact on him.”

“anyway, i highly recommend both of the detroit symphony orchestra albums, especially symphony #2 and the gorgeous rendition of solitude by duke ellington for strings on the other album. primegirl is an ellington fan, and has several versions of solitude (both instrumental and vocal). this one is sublime. ellington would have undoubtedly been pleased. *you can read all about william grant still and symphony #2 (written in 1937-38! so modern!) here, and of course, elsewhere on the web. i love the first (yearning) and fourth movements (aspiration) in particular, although i do love the whole thing.”

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