Sunday, July 7, 2013 'Top Five Visions of America in Classical Music' include 'William Grant Still and his Afro-American Symphony'

Statue of Liberty
(Flickr eschipul)

William Grant Still (1895-1978)

In honor of our nation’s birthday, we present five pieces of classical music that are both American in sound and in subject matter.

1. Charles Ives: Fourth Symphony
2. John Alden Carpenter: Skyscrapers: A Ballet of Modern Life
3. Elliott Carter: A Symphony for Three Orchestras
4. William Grant Still: Afro-American Symphony
5. Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein: The Mother of Us All

William Grant Still and his Afro-American Symphony inserted frequently neglected black culture into American classical music. When the Rochester Philharmonic premiered the work in 1931, it marked the first time that an American orchestra played a piece by a black composer. The symphony introduced an African-American vernacular taken from the blues, jazz, and spiritual music into the classical concert hall, providing a multicultural rendering of American music.

[William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Recordings, sheet music and books of William Grant Still are available at, which is operated by the composer's daughter Judith Anne Still]

No comments: