Percy Grainger
https://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




Featured Works


Percy Grainger Tracks

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Percy Grainger
Sussex Mummer's Christmas Carol
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Sussex Mummer's Christmas Carol
Percy Grainger
3 Folksong arrs: Spoon River; Irish Tune from County Derry; Shepherd's Hey
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3 Folksong arrs: Spoon River; Irish Tune from County Derry; Shepherd's Hey
Percy Grainger
Scotch Strathspey and Reel
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Scotch Strathspey and Reel
Percy Grainger
Blithe Bells
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Blithe Bells
Percy Grainger
Arrival Platform Humlet
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Arrival Platform Humlet
Percy Grainger
Apres un reve (after Faure)
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Apres un reve (after Faure)
Percy Grainger
Seventeen Come Sunday
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Seventeen Come Sunday
Anonymous, Camerata Chamber Choir, Percy Grainger & Michael Bojesen
O Danny Boy (or Irish tune from County Derry)
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O Danny Boy (or Irish tune from County Derry)
Percy Grainger
4 Folk Songs
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4 Folk Songs
George Gershwin
Love walked in arr Grainger
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Love walked in arr Grainger
Percy Grainger
Shepherd's Hey
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Shepherd's Hey
Percy Grainger
Ramble on Love
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Ramble on Love
Percy Grainger
Handel in the Strand
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Handel in the Strand
George Gershwin
Love walked in
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Love walked in
Trad.
Brigg Fair
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Brigg Fair
Richard Strauss
Ramble on Love (from Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier)
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Ramble on Love (from Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier)
John Dowland
Now, O Now I Needs Must Part
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Now, O Now I Needs Must Part
Percy Grainger
Scotch Strathspey and Reel
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Scotch Strathspey and Reel
Percy Grainger
Irish Tune from County Derry for unaccompanied chorus
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Irish Tune from County Derry for unaccompanied chorus
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
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Playlists featuring Percy Grainger


Past BBC Events

Proms 2003: Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2003
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eg5fxj
Royal Albert Hall
2003-09-13T16:35:09
13
Sep
2003

Proms 2003: Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2003

19:45
Royal Albert Hall
Proms 2002: Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2002
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ex8rzc
Royal Albert Hall
2002-09-14T16:35:09
14
Sep
2002

Proms 2002: Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2002

19:30
Royal Albert Hall
Proms 1988: Prom 69 - Last Night of the Proms 1988
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eq89rz
Royal Albert Hall
1988-09-17T16:35:09
17
Sep
1988

Proms 1988: Prom 69 - Last Night of the Proms 1988

19:30
Royal Albert Hall
Proms 1948: Prom 25
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e4cp5v
Royal Albert Hall
1948-08-21T16:35:09
21
Aug
1948

Proms 1948: Prom 25

19:30
Royal Albert Hall
Proms 1914: Prom 03
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ezz9mb
Queen's Hall
1914-08-18T16:35:09
18
Aug
1914

Proms 1914: Prom 03

20:00
Queen's Hall

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