I Dream a World


The Operas of William Grant Still
Beverly Soll
978-1-55728-789-2 (cloth)
April 2005


Add to Cart

William 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.
The 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 performances of the operas as a way of documenting the history of the composer and his contributions to American opera.
Although I Dream a World is not intentionally biographical, it is very personal. 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.

Beverly 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.

“Past 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.”
—Michael J. Dabrishus, assistant university librarian for archives and special collections at the University of Pittsburgh and coauthor of William Grant Still: A Bio-Bibliography
“Beverly 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.”
—Thomas King, professor of voice at Austin Peay State University