Music Monday: Still: Seven Traceries

Sometimes called “The Dean of African American Composers”, William Grant Still (1895–1978) is undoubtedly most famous for his first symphony, the Afro-American Symphony from 1930. That’s a great work, and it’s definitely worth getting to know if you’re not familiar with it, but I think relying on it too heavily to give a snapshot of Still’s output runs the risk of pigeonholing him and limiting our conception of his musical breadth. Still himself was adamant about this [College Music Symposium], insisting that he “wrote as [he] chose, using whatever idiom seemed appropriate to the subject at hand” and “did not bow” to the “complete domination” of Jazz any more than he did to the modernist style he encountered when studying with Edgard Varèse.

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