William Grant Still

William Grant Still Exhibition

Verna Arvey

Verna Arvey, pianist and journalist. She was William Grant Still's second wife.

Arvey at
the Piano

Still dedicated his work for piano and orchestra, Kaintuck, to her, which she performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra on February 17 and 18, 1939, nine days after their wedding. Before their marriage, Still needed additional words for his opera Troubled Island, and his librettist, Langston Hughes, was out of the country. Verna wrote the lyrics to three arias "In Childhood Together," "This Land, This Dark Land," and "Love Calls." Still, who had very strong opinions concerning the role of words in drama, was pleased with Verna's work, and they began a collaboration that lasted throughout Still's lifetime. Verna wrote the remaining librettos to Still's operas, which include A Bayou Legend, Minette Fontaine, Highway No. 1 U.S.A., as well as the scenarios to ballets such as Miss Sally Dance and several art songs.

Phil. Program

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Materials from Special Collections Library, Duke University

A project of The Digital Scriptorium, Special Collections Library, Duke University. September 1995