Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
WILLIAM GRANT STILL
pleted his studies with Edgar Varèse in New York. William Grant Still is numbered among the important personalities of the Younger American school. His major orchestral works which are intensely racial in character have been performed thruout the world. Strongly melodic, his music throbs with emotion. When the Afro-American Symphony was performed in Germany (it was given eminently successful performances in Berlin, Leipzig, and Stuttgart) it was considered by critics the most characteristically indigenous music to have come from this country. In this, and other, major compositions, Still--unlike so many other American composers--is not interested in experiments with tonalities or sonorities. He is merely interested in giving expression to the gamut of his experiences in tones, and he does this with great sincerity and often with poignancy."In composing," he informs us further about himself, "I often use material that I have had in my notebook for a number of years. Just as often I rely on inspiration for the material needed. In the latter instances I seek first of all special attunement with the cosmic forces, for I believe that inspiration comes to man from Divine sources."My musical tastes are quite varied altho I am inclined to prefer those composers whose trend is modern. Wagner has undoubtedly influenced me more than any other composer."My favorite diversion (there are some who would not call it a diversion) is the study of life with a view to learning that which will enable me to make my life more serviceable to mankind. I prefer at all times to be inconspicuous. My intimate friends accuse me of being too modest, but they do not know what I suffer when forced to arise and bow at a performance, or when it becomes necessary to accept praise in person."My most characteristic trait seems to be my utter inability to retain names in my memory."In 1933, William Grant Still was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, enabling him to go abroad and devote himself to serious composition.Principal works by William Grant Still:
ORCHESTRA : Afro-American Symphony; Africa; Darker America; A Deserted Plantation; From the Journal of a Wanderer; Ebon Chronicle.
BALLET : Sahdji; La Guiablesse; The Sorcerer.

About William Grant Still:

Musical America 51:13 June 1931.


Albert Stoessel 1894-

ALBERT STOESSEL was born in St. Louis on October 11, 1894. After acquiring his early musical training from local instructors he became a student at the Royal High School of Berlin, specializing in the playing of the violin. Upon graduating--he had just reached his sixteenth birthday--he made his debut as concert violinist in Berlin by playing three violin concertos in one evening. He returned to America in 1915 and made several successful appearances as assisting artist with Enrico Caruso, and as soloist with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

When the War broke out he was back in Berlin where he was teaching the violin. One of his pupils at this time was an American girl, and the war feeling brought the two so closely together that they escaped out of Ger

____________________
Stoessel: stĕ'sĕl

-259-

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