Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2012 by Fred Flaxman

Program 192
"More Still"

MUSIC: Still: excerpt from the opening of the third movement of the Symphony No. 2 in G Minor (“Song of a New Race”) performed by the Fort Smith Symphony conducted by John Jeter [Naxos 8.559676, Track 7] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. Stay with me for the next hour and we’ll listen to a second hour of music by the American composer William Grant Still. I’m calling this hour “More Still,” and am planning one more hour of music by Still to be called “Still More Still.” If you missed the first hour, you can stream it on demand at your convenience. You’ll find a link to it at compactdiscoveries.com. It was program number 191. And this is program 192.

Still was born in Mississippi in 1895 to a family of Negro, Indian, Spanish, Irish, and Scotch ancestry. He died in 1978.

He worked as an arranger for several popular performers, including W.C. Handy, composer of the St. Louis Blues, and Artie Shaw. He moved to New York City in the 1920s, which is when he turned his attention to classical composition. In 1930 he moved to Los Angeles to work as an arranger for Paul Whiteman. There he also expanded his horizons into film and radio.

We’re going to listen to all or part of three of his symphonic compositiions in this hour: Wood Notes from 1947, Symphony No. 2, subtitled “Song of a New Race” from 1937, and Symphony No. 3, “The Sunday Symphony” from 1958. All this will be from the same Naxos compact disc, with the Fort Smith, Arkansas, Symphony conducted by John Jeter.

Let’s start, as the CD does, with Wood Notes, an impressionistic composition divided into four movements: Singing River, Autumn Night, Moon Dusk, and Whippoorwill’s Shoes. This is a world-premiere recording. The world-premiere performance was with the Chicago Symphony conducted by Arthur Rodzínski in 1948.

MUSIC: Still: Wood Notes performed by the Fort Smith Symphony conducted by John Jeter [Naxos 8.559676, Tracks 1, 2, 3, and 4] [16:32]

William Grant Still’s Wood Notes. John Jeter conducted the Fort Smith Symphony.

You are listening to “More Still” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the total timing]

In the early 1920s, Still envisioned a trilogy of works depicting the African-American experience: the symphonic poem Africa representing their roots, the Symphony No. 1 (subtitled the “Afro-American”) representing life in America until emancipation, and the Symphony No. 2 (subtitled “Song of a New Race”) representing a vision of an integrated society.

Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra premiered the Second Symphony in 1937. It received rave reviews.

MUSIC: Still: Symphony No. 2 in G Minor (“Song of a New Race”) performed by the Fort Smith Symphony conducted by John Jeter [Naxos 8.559676, Tracks 5, 6, 7, and 8] [18:09]

The four movements of the Symphony No. 2 in G Minor, subtitled “Song of a New Race” by William Grant Still. The Fort Smith Symphony was conducted by John Jeter.

You are listening to “More Still” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the total timing]

William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 3: “The Sunday Symphony,” is the only one of the five Still symphonies to remain perfectly still in his lifetime. It wasn’t performed until 1984, when it was premiered by the North Arkansas Symphony conducted by Carlton Woods.

This symphony was written to replace an earlier Symphony No. 3. That symphony was revised in 1958 and appeared as Still’s Symphony No. 5, subtitled “Western Hemisphere.” I’m planning to include that work in the final hour of these three devoted to this composer, calling the final program “Still More Still.”

“The Sunday Symphony” is divided into four movements: Awakening, Prayer, Relaxation, and Day’s End and a New Beginning. Sorry, but we won’t have time for the Prayer.

MUSIC: Still: Symphony No. 3 (“The Sunday Symphony”) performed by the Fort Smith Symphony conducted by John Jeter [Naxos 8.559676, Tracks 9, 11, and 12] [18:01]

William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 3, “The Sunday Symphony,” minus the second movement. John Jeter conducted the Fort Smith Symphony on this Naxos CD.

And that concludes this hour of Compact Discoveries. David Ciucevich, Jr., wrote the program notes for the Naxos CD I used for the information I passed on to you during this hour, for which I thank him. And thank you for listening.

ANNOUNCER (Steve Jencks): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz, and an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida. And by contributions to local public radio stations by listeners like you. Thank you. [0:13]

Total Program Timing: 58:40