William Grant Still (1895-1978) composed the 'Afro-American Symphony' in 1930. The stirring and inspiring finale is presented here, from the first performance issued on long-play records, Karl Krueger conducting the Vienna Opera Orchestra.
Still himself contributed the liner notes--
"Twenty-two years ago when I wrote the 'Afro-American Symphony', I did so in the hope that I would achieve one principal objective: to present in symphonic form a typically American idiom. To that end, I devised an original theme in the manner of the Blues and around it constructed the Symphony. Because this principal theme appears so prominently in each of the four movements in various forms, it may well be considered the basic, unifying factor in the work as a whole.
"After the Symphony was composed as an abstract work, it seemed advisable to invent a 'program' for it, so that audiences might be able to understand the music better. I therefore prefaced each movement with excerpts from the poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar, explaining that the Symphony was intended to portray colored Americans of the period following the Civil War, the 'sons of the soil'. To the first movement I gave the title 'Longing', to the second 'Sorrow', to the third 'Humor' (of the folk rather than of the dance-hall), and to the fourth 'Aspiration'.
"The Afro-Americans who are depicted in the music have given way to a new generation, but their idioms and their ideals have become a part of America. In this they take their greatest pride: the knowledge that they have made a contribution and that it is acknowledged by their countrymen."