William Grant Still
Published February 8, 2019
65 min
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    Donald Macleod explores the life and music of African-American composer William Grant Still (1895-1978). This week Composer of the Week looks at Still’s transformative period of study with mentor Edgard Varèse, the writing of his breakthrough 1st Symphony the ‘Afro-American’, being embraced by the American musical establishment and becoming the first African-American to conduct a major US symphony orchestra, and his uphill struggles to establish himself as a composer of opera. Music featured: Brown Baby Darker America Breath of a Rose La Guiablesse (The She-Devil), ballet Africa, suite for orchestra (1. Land of Peace) Quit Dat Fool’nish Symphony No 1 in A flat, ‘Afro-American’ A Deserted Plantation Kaintuck’, poem for piano and orchestra Blues, Pt 1 Lenox Avenue (The Crap Game; The Flirtation; The Fight; The Law) Symphony No 2 in G minor, ‘Song of a New Race’ (4. Moderately Slow) Out of the Silence (Seven Traceries, No 4) And They Lynched Him on a Tree Old California ‘A Black Pierrot’ (Songs of Separation) Incantation and Dance, for oboe and piano Festive Overture Bells Symphony No 4, ‘Autochthonous’ Whippoorwill's Shoes (Wood Notes) Little Black Slave Child (Troubled Island) Ennanga, for harp, piano and string quartet (1. Moderately fast) Symphony No 3, ‘The Sunday Symphony’ (2. Prayer – very slowly; 3. Relaxation – Gaily) Lyric Quartette Highway One: Act I (extract) Grief (Weeping Angel) Presented by Donald Macleod Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for William Grant Still: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0002cbd And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3cjHdZlXwL7W41XGB77X3S0/composers-a-to-z
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