Dream a World
The Operas of William Grant
long-overlooked works of a groundbreaking African American
composer finally are brought to life
Grant Still (1895–1978) dreamed of a world in which
his eight operas—for him the ultimate form of musical
expression—would be heard in the major opera houses
in the United States, devoting most of his career toward
the pursuit of this goal.
first part of I Dream a World creates a context
for Still’s operas and explores commonalities among
them, including structural elements and musical characteristics.
The second part traces the research, composition, and perform-ances
of the operas as a way of documenting the history of the
composer and his contributions to American opera.
I Dream a World is not intentionally biographical,
it is very pers-onal. It is more than the story of William
Grant Still’s love of operatic music, of the libretti
that reflect his own life and philosophy, and of the world
he dreamed through his work. It opens a window on Still
the man as well as on Still the composer that offers important
insights into the social milieu of this pioneering figure.
scholarship on the career of William Grant Still has largely
left readers interested in his operas searching for something
more. Unfortunately, no single volume was available. Beverly
Soll’s I Dream a World fills that void. .
. . In documenting Still’s contributions to American
opera, she also provides poignant insight to his continued
struggle for place within a larger society.”
J. Dabrishus, assistant university librarian for archives
and special collections at the University of Pittsburgh
and coauthor of William Grant Still: A Bio-Bibliography
Soll has been thorough, thoughtful, fair, engaging, and
most organized, all of which help the reader to sit back
and enjoy the ride through William Grant Still’s life.
. . . She draws the reader in immediately and states her
case. Harlem, Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes,
Verna Arvey on the one hand, and opera composition, opera
promotion and opera production on the other, do not connect
until Soll shows us that they should and do, through the
genius of William Grant Still.”
King, professor of voice at Austin Peay State University
Soll is arts/special events coordinator
at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and the
author of Arias, Duets, and Scenes from the Operas of
William Grant Still.
306 pages, 29 figures, 9 tables, index
6" x 9"
$29.95 (s) cloth
978-1-55728-789-2 | 1-55728-789-9