One of America's foremost composers, William Grant Still (1895-1978) had the distinction of becoming a legend in his own lifetime. From a musical family, he studied at Wilberforce University, Oberlin Conservatory, and the New England Conservatory. Mentors included George Chadwick, Edgard Varese and Howard Hanson. During his education, he also entered the world of commercial music, playing in orchestras and orchestrating, working in particular with the violin, violoncello and oboe. His employers included W.C. Handy, Don Voorhees, Sophie Tucker, Paul Whiteman, Willard Robison and Artie Shaw. He also arranged for and conducted the “Deep River Hour” over CBS and WOR. Dr. Still's service to the cause of brotherhood is evidenced by his many firsts for African-Americans in the musical realm: to have a symphony performed by a major U.S. symphony orchestra, to conduct a major symphony orchestra in the U.S. (1936, Los Angeles Philharmonic), to conduct a major symphony orchestra in the Deep South (1955, New Orleans Philharmonic), to conduct a white radio orchestra in New York City, to have an opera produced by a major company in the U.S., and to have an opera televised over a national network. With these “firsts” he was a pioneer, but in a large sene, he pioneered because he was able to create music capable of interesting the greatest conductors of the day: truly serious music, but with a definite American flavor. Versions of “Ennanga” for string orchestra and string quartet are available from the publisher.
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