The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: When it turns hot and humid this weekend, YOU MUST HEAR THIS: “Summerland” by William Grant Still | August 4, 2018

By Jacob Stockinger

Early August is bringing another blast of summer this weekend.

Here come the heat and humidity again.

The Ear loves certain music and composers who seem particularly listenable and enjoyable in summer.

One is the French master Francis Poulenc, whose works often have a certain light, airy and playful quality to them.

But recently, on Wisconsin Public Radio, The Ear heard another winner to hear in hot weather.

It is the piano piece “Summerland” by William Grant Still (below in a photo by Carl Van Vechten), which you can hear in the YouTube video at the bottom. It is a relaxing and dreamy work, beautiful and very summery with suggestions of the blues and Debussy.

William Grant Still (1895-1978) was a very successful and major African-American composer of classical music as well as a conductor. He has been experiencing a long overdue revival lately.

Here is a link to his biography, which features a lot of awards and distinctions, in Wikipedia:

And you can find many more large works, including several symphonies, and miniatures on YouTube, which also has other several settings of “Summerland.”

Here is “Summerland” in a version for solo piano:

If you like this music, link or forward or share this post.


Stay cool!


  1. Thanks for introducing us to someone most of us probably never heard of, and for bringing us another African-American we should know about.


    Comment by slfiore — August 4, 2018 @ 7:06 am

  2. It may not spell summer, but it does sound so gentle and summerlike: listen to the brilliant work by that underrated student of Mozart’s, Johann Nepomuk Hummel. It is from his lovely Larghetto (the 2nd movement) of his 3rd piano concerto performed by Steven Hough:


    Comment by fflambeau — August 4, 2018 @ 3:34 am

  3. Debussy-like? Why not listen to the master, himself.

    The best is Reverie by that genius of a composer, who along with Richard Wagner, did so much to change classical music.

    It was originally a piano piece (and it is lovely as is all Debussy) but this orchestra version is beautifully done by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy:


    Comment by fflambeau — August 4, 2018 @ 3:30 am

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