Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 3 of 'My Life, My Words' Contest; William Grant Still, From Violinist to Leader of Wilberforce Band

[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: Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still; Denver Oldham, piano; Koch 3 7084 2H1 (1991)]

Today is Day 3 of the 4-day contest to win a copy of My Life, My Words: The Autobiography of William Grant Still, American Master Composer. The Fort Smith Symphony of Fort Smith, Arkansas held a public rehearsal of 3 works of William Grant Still on April 16, 2011 for a Naxos CD. Two of the works were his Symphonies No. 2 (Song of a New Race) and No. 3 (The Sunday Symphony). To enter to win a copy of My Life, My Words: The Autobiography of William Grant Still, American Master Composer, and a copy of IN ONE LIFETIME by the composer's wife, Verna Arvey, answer this question:

What is the name of the third work?

To enter, send an email to wzick@ameritech.net with “My Life, My Words” in the subject line. Entries must be received by midnight Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, July 6, 2011. One entry per person please. A winner will be chosen randomly from the correct entries. The winner will be contacted by email and AfriClassical.com will send the prize to the winner.

Chapter III of My Life, My Words is “Goodbye, Rose.”
On p. 48 we read of Still's time as a student at Wilberforce: “It did not take long for the beginning student to realize that he had no interest in science or medicine. Although he kept his grades slightly above average, he began to occupy his time with playing the violin, and he found that other students, and his professors, praised his performances highly. The girls loved it when he played the violin outside the dorm at night, ending the serenade with “Goodbye, Rose” when the lights went out at 10:00 p.m. A letter from his classmate, Alzada Singleton Buford, February 18, 1938, to Still, stated that “we all thrilled at the violin performance of 'Billy Still' at Wilberforce,” and when he was praised, all observed his “well-remembered modesty.” He was greatly admired when he formed his own string quartet and wrote music for the quartet to play. Yet the adulation was not enough to lead him into a career as a violinist. He said,

In spite of this flattering state of affairs, in no time at all I threw away any chance I might have had to become a concert violinist because I began to divide my interests. Other instruments claimed my attention. All of them presented fascinating problems that challenged my ability to learn. I wasn't going to be satisfied until I had experimented with as many of them as possible. One of the first on the list was the clarinet.”

When the leader of the Wilberforce Band left the post, Still was given his position, after which he began to teach himself to play all the instruments in the band. [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features a complete Works Lists by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, http://www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com]

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