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William Grant Still (Composer)

Born: 11th May 1895, Woodville, Mississippi, U.S.A

Died: 3rd December 1978, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A

Nationality: American

William Grant Still Jr. was an American composer of nearly 200 works, including five symphonies, four ballets, eight operas, over thirty choral works, plus art songs, chamber music and works for solo instruments.

Often referred to as the "Dean of Afro-American Composers", Still was the first American composer to have an opera produced by the New York City Opera. Still is known primarily for his first symphony, Afro-American Symphony (1930), which was, until 1950, the most widely performed symphony composed by an American.

Born in Mississippi, he grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, attended Wilberforce University and Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and was a student of George Whitefield Chadwick and later Edgard Varèse.

Of note, Still was the first African American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony (his 1st 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.

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