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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (03/10/15)
Composer: Still, William Grant
Sample Producer: Milan Digital Audio
Sample Set: Salisbury Cathedral Father Willis
Software: Hauptwerk
Genre: Modern
William Grant Still (May 11, 1895 – December 3, 1978) was an African-American classical composer who wrote more than 150 compositions. He was the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony (his first symphony) performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera performed on national television. He is often referred to as "the Dean" of African-American composers.

William Grant Still was born in Woodville, Mississippi. He grew up in Little Rock, and started violin lessons at the age of 15. He taught himself to play the clarinet, saxophone, oboe, double bass, cello and viola, and showed a great interest in music. He was awarded scholarships to study at the Oberlin Conservatory with Friedrick Lehmann and with George Whitefield Chadwick. He also studied with the modern composer Edgard Varèse.

In 1918, Still joined the United States Navy to serve in World War I. His career was wide and highly diversified. In 1934, he received his first Guggenheim Fellowship. Still moved to Los Angeles, in the 1930s, where he arranged music for films.

"Elegy" was copyrighted in 1963 by the Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena and Valley Districts of the AGO. It is part of the ECS/AGO African-American Organ Series. With its modal C minor tonality this is almost certainly "inspired" by spirituals, but I think you'll agree that it could just as easily be an Irish melody! With its sad flow, moving from a quiet opening to a dramtic climax on the full organ, then back again to an even more quiet close, this would be THE perfect work for an important memorial service.

My playing on this is almost completely "spontaneous," as the registration details were really not worked out before I played it. This was the 2nd take, and really captures the way I play.
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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