Sunday, July 10, 2011

Alan Shnay, 'My Life, My Words' Winner, 'performed in Woodville, MS,' home of 'Jefferson Davis and William Grant Still.'

[ABOVE: My Life, My Words: The Autobiography of William Grant Still, American Master Composer; With additional material by Judith Anne Still; The Master-Player Library, Flagstaff, Arizona (2011) BELOW: In One Lifetime, Verna Arvey]

Cellist Alan Shnay of Park Forest, Illinois correctly identified the work joining William Grant Still's Symphonies 2 & 3 on the forthcoming Naxos CD as Wood Notes. Alan has won a copy of My Life, My Words: The Autobiography of William Grant Still, American Master Composer. He will also receive In One Lifetime by the composer's wife Verna Arvey. The books were provided by William Grant Still Music, which sells My Life, My Words for $19.95. Alan Shnay writes:

Thanks for having the contest; I look forward to reading the books.

“Growing up, I read The Lives of the Great Composers by Harold Schonberg and enjoyed listening to my Walt Disney Presents the Great Composers LP many times. During college, studying cello performance, I found myself often distracted by my desire to understand a composer's personality as much as his compositional technique. Imagining a reclusive, angry Shostakovich, a crazy Schumann, or an opium-addled Berlioz enhanced my experience of performing their music.

“Recently reading Alex Ross' The Rest is Noise has reminded me of several composers whose music and lives I have neglected, one of whom is William Grant Still. I seem to recall his music having a Dvorak-like feeling with more overt folk and blues elements. As Dvorak has to be near the top of any cellist's list of favorites, I feel there must be numerous undiscovered (to me) treasures within WGS' oeuvre. In addition, I once performed in Woodville, MS and I remember the interesting juxtaposition of that town's connection to both Jefferson Davis and William Grant Still.

I look forward to receiving the books and discovering the life and music of a pioneer of American music.” [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, which features a complete Works Lists by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,]

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