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William Grant Still's Vision for American Music

Franke, Joseph (2012) William Grant Still's Vision for American Music. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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William Grant Still is commonly referred to as the “Dean of Afro-American Composers” and his music seen as an expression of African-American spirit. Still’s musical success reached its peak during the time of the Harlem Renaissance, which has led him to be associated with that movement by many writers and scholars. However, several factors contest this association. He was taught from a very young age to contribute to building a new nation. He learned popular forms of musical expression, such as blues and jazz, during his time orchestrating with W. C. Handy. He imbibed a Romantic European symphonic tradition from George Whitefield Chadwick. He studied contemporary musical techniques with Edgard Varèse. Simultaneously, the Harlem Renaissance blossomed into full-blown African-American cultural uplift. Still did not stay within one particular musical style; his ability to study but not submit to a variety of styles hints at another purpose to his musical compositions. An examination of his correspondence with leading Harlem Renaissance figure Alain Locke reveals that Still, while proud of his heritage, foresaw the emergence of a new race, in which all the races in America would merge and become one. This invites re-consideration of the perceptions of Still’s brand of nationalism, as well as his relationship to American music history in general and to African-American history in particular.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Franke, Josephjpf31@pitt.eduJPF31
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberDavis, Nathanndavis@pitt.eduNDAVIS
Committee MemberCassaro, James P.cassaro@pitt.eduCASSARO
Committee ChairRoot, Deanedlr@pitt.eduDLR
Date: 30 May 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 April 2012
Approval Date: 30 May 2012
Submission Date: 20 April 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 65
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: William Grant Still, Alain Locke, fusion of cultures, influences, Judith Anne Still, Verna Arvey, Harlem Renaissance
Date Deposited: 30 May 2012 14:49
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:57


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