Percy Grainger
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/960x540/p01bqxnh.jpg
1882-07-08
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/9d5a875f-9815-4384-9e4f-cd4ea4f2bc16
Percy Grainger

Percy Grainger Biography (BBC)

Composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, educator, inventor, collector and transcriber of the folk music of many cultures – Percy Aldridge Grainger was born at Brighton, near Melbourne, Australia, on 8 July 1882. His philandering, alcoholic father left home when Percy was 8 and his mother, Rose Aldridge, assumed total control of every aspect of her son’s life. Discipline was harsh but the bond of affection between mother and son was overwhelming and all-consuming.

After studying at the Frankfurt Conservatory, Grainger settled in England in 1901 and began his career as a professional pianist. His good looks and striking blond hair made him a popular figure in London society. It was during this period that he first began collecting folk songs and from 1905 he travelled extensively in England and Scandinavia, recording and transcribing over 500 songs.

In 1914, Grainger moved to America, eventually settling in White Plains, NY, and taking US citizenship in 1918. For the rest of his life he continued to tour the world as a performer, earning a considerable fortune and giving much of it away to deserving cases. In 1928, on stage at the Hollywood Bowl, in front of an audience of over 15,000, he married Ella Ström, a Swedish artist, who bore a startling resemblance to his mother.

Grainger was a man of contradictions: a professional concert pianist who hated performing in public; a compassionate, vegetarian pacifist and avid reader of bloodthirsty Nordic sagas; a keep-fit fanatic whose sex-life was dominated by sadomasochistic practices. Above all, he was a radical, a visionary and a fearless experimenter, whose musical reputation was for too long defined by that dread term ‘light music’.

Though Grainger remained essentially a miniaturist (none of his works lasts much over 20 minutes), his vast output is brimming with new ideas. These include a totally new approach to orchestration through flexible (‘elastic’) scoring, experiments with ‘chance’ music that startlingly anticipate 1960s aleatoricism, and a vision of a music freed from the constraints of regular pulse and specific pitch. To achieve this ‘Free Music’, he set about designing and building special machines to play the strange, sliding microtonal music he had in mind. A few tapes of these efforts still exist, but at the time of his death, on 20 February 1961, his dream remained only partly realised.

Profile © John Pickard

Percy Grainger Biography (Wikipedia)

Percy Aldridge Grainger (8 July 1882 – 20 February 1961) was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist. In the course of a long and innovative career he played a prominent role in the revival of interest in British folk music in the early years of the 20th century. He also made many adaptations of other composers' works. Although much of his work was experimental and unusual, the piece with which he is most generally associated is his piano arrangement of the folk-dance tune "Country Gardens".

Grainger left Australia at the age of 13 to attend the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. Between 1901 and 1914 he was based in London, where he established himself first as a society pianist and later as a concert performer, composer and collector of original folk melodies. As his reputation grew he met many of the significant figures in European music, forming important friendships with Frederick Delius and Edvard Grieg. He became a champion of Nordic music and culture, his enthusiasm for which he often expressed in private letters.

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Featured Works


Percy Grainger Performances

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Percy Grainger
To a Nordic Princess (bridal song) vers. piano
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To a Nordic Princess (bridal song) vers. piano
Percy Grainger
I'm seventeen come Sunday
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I'm seventeen come Sunday
Percy Grainger
Scotch Strathspey and Reel
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Scotch Strathspey and Reel
Percy Grainger
Blithe bells - a free ramble on Bach's aria 'Sheep may graze
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Blithe bells - a free ramble on Bach's aria 'Sheep may graze
Percy Grainger
Over the hills and far away - children's march vers. for orchestra
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Over the hills and far away - children's march vers. for orchestra
Percy Grainger
Ye banks and braes of bonny doon
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Ye banks and braes of bonny doon
Percy Grainger
4 Folk Songs
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4 Folk Songs
Percy Grainger
Shallow Brown
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Shallow Brown
Percy Grainger
Free Music No.1 (for four theremins)
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Free Music No.1 (for four theremins)
Grainne White, Donal McCrisken, Percy Grainger & Kreisler
Molly on the Shore
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Molly on the Shore
Percy Grainger
The Lost lady found vers. for chorus & orch.
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The Lost lady found vers. for chorus & orch.
Richard Strauss
The Ramble on the Last Love Duet in Der Rosenkavalier
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The Ramble on the Last Love Duet in Der Rosenkavalier
Percy Grainger
Country Gardens
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Country Gardens
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Playlists featuring Percy Grainger


Past BBC Events

Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2003 Proms 2003
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eg5fxj
Royal Albert Hall
2003-09-13T16:43:55
13
Sep
2003

Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2003 Proms 2003

19:45
Royal Albert Hall
Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2002 Proms 2002
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ex8rzc
Royal Albert Hall
2002-09-14T16:43:55
14
Sep
2002

Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2002 Proms 2002

19:30
Royal Albert Hall
Prom 69 - Last Night of the Proms 1988 Proms 1988
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eq89rz
Royal Albert Hall
1988-09-17T16:43:55
17
Sep
1988

Prom 69 - Last Night of the Proms 1988 Proms 1988

19:30
Royal Albert Hall
Prom 25 Proms 1948
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e4cp5v
Royal Albert Hall
1948-08-21T16:43:55
21
Aug
1948

Prom 25 Proms 1948

19:30
Royal Albert Hall
Prom 03 Proms 1914
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ezz9mb
Queen's Hall
1914-08-18T16:43:55
18
Aug
1914

Prom 03 Proms 1914

20:00
Queen's Hall

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