Percy Grainger

Born 8 July 1882. Died 20 February 1961
Percy Grainger
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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

Percy Grainger
Shallow Brown
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Shallow Brown

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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
Blithe Bells
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Blithe Bells
Charles Villiers Stanford
A March-Jig 'Maguire's Kick' (Four Irish Dances: No 1)
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A March-Jig 'Maguire's Kick' (Four Irish Dances: No 1)
Percy Grainger
Handel in the Strand
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Handel in the Strand
Percy Grainger
Molly on the Shore
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Molly on the Shore
Percy Grainger
Shallow Brown
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Shallow Brown

Shallow Brown

Orchestra
English Country Gardiner Orchestra
Last played on
Percy Grainger
Irish tune from County Derry
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Irish tune from County Derry
Percy Grainger
Ramble on Love (after the Love Duet from Richard Strauss's 'Der Rosenkavalier')
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Ramble on Love (after the Love Duet from Richard Strauss's 'Der Rosenkavalier')
Percy Grainger
Green Bushes
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Green Bushes
Cyril Scott
Handelian Rhapsody
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Handelian Rhapsody
Percy Grainger
Ye banks and braes of bonny doon
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Ye banks and braes of bonny doon
Percy Grainger
Mock Morris
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Mock Morris
Percy Grainger
To a Nordic Princess (bridal song) vers. piano
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To a Nordic Princess (bridal song) vers. piano
Percy Grainger
4 Folk Songs
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4 Folk Songs

4 Folk Songs

Performer
Camerata Chamber Choir
Choir
Camerata Chamber Choir
Percy Grainger
Shepherd's Hey!
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Shepherd's Hey!
Percy Grainger
Spoon River
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Spoon River

Spoon River

Composer
Percy Grainger
William S. Carson
Alan Naylor
Maurice Ravel
La vallée des cloches
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La vallée des cloches
Percy Grainger
Willow willow
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Willow willow
Percy Grainger
My dark girl (Songs of the North)
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My dark girl (Songs of the North)
Percy Grainger
The Sprig of thyme
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The Sprig of thyme
Johann Sebastian Bach
Blithe bells
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Blithe bells

Blithe bells

Performer
Jayson Gillham
Music Arranger
Last played on
Percy Grainger
Country Gardens
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Country Gardens
Percy Grainger
Ramble on the Last Love Duet in Der Rosenkavalier
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Ramble on the Last Love Duet in Der Rosenkavalier
Percy Grainger
Molly on the Shore
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Molly on the Shore
Percy Grainger
Country Gardens
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Country Gardens
Percy Grainger
The Brisk Young Sailor; The Lost Lady Found (A Lincolnshire Posy)
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The Brisk Young Sailor; The Lost Lady Found (A Lincolnshire Posy)
Claude Debussy
Pagodes (Estampes)
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Pagodes (Estampes)
Percy Grainger
Free Music No 1 for four theremins
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Free Music No 1 for four theremins
Percy Grainger
Hill-Song No 1
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Hill-Song No 1
Percy Grainger
I'm Seventeen Come Sunday
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I'm Seventeen Come Sunday

I'm Seventeen Come Sunday

Orchestra
English Country Gardiner Orchestra
Percy Grainger
Shepherd's Hey!
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Shepherd's Hey!
J. Michael Holmes, Phil Pierick, Adrianne Honnold, Joyce Griggs, Drew Whiting, Jesse Dochnahl, Ben Kenis, Trad. & Percy Grainger
Angelus ad virginem “The Annunciation Carol”
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Angelus ad virginem “The Annunciation Carol”

Angelus ad virginem “The Annunciation Carol”

Performer
J. Michael Holmes, Phil Pierick, Adrianne Honnold, Joyce Griggs, Drew Whiting, Jesse Dochnahl, Ben Kenis
Composer
Music Arranger
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
Claude Debussy
Pagodes [Estampes]
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Pagodes [Estampes]
Percy Grainger
Suite on Danish folk songs vers. orchestral
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Suite on Danish folk songs vers. orchestral
Maurice Ravel
La vallée des cloches (Miroirs)
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La vallée des cloches (Miroirs)
Percy Grainger
Hill-Song No 2 for wind band
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Hill-Song No 2 for wind band
Percy Grainger
A Lincolnshire Posy: III. Rufford Park Poachers
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A Lincolnshire Posy: III. Rufford Park Poachers
Percy Grainger
Brigg Fair
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Brigg Fair
George Gershwin
Love walked in
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Love walked in
Percy Grainger
Brigg Fair
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Brigg Fair
Percy Grainger
Apres un reve (after Faure)
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Apres un reve (after Faure)
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Playlists featuring Percy Grainger


Past BBC Events

Proms 2003: Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2003
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eg5fxj
Royal Albert Hall
2003-09-13T01:50:27
13
Sep
2003

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

Royal Albert Hall
Proms 2002: Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2002
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ex8rzc
Royal Albert Hall
2002-09-14T01:50:27
14
Sep
2002

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

Royal Albert Hall
Proms 1988: Prom 69 - Last Night of the Proms 1988
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eq89rz
Royal Albert Hall
1988-09-17T01:50:27
17
Sep
1988

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

Royal Albert Hall
Proms 1948: Prom 25
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e4cp5v
Royal Albert Hall
1948-08-21T01:50:27
21
Aug
1948

Proms 1948: Prom 25

Royal Albert Hall
Proms 1914: Prom 03
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ezz9mb
Queen's Hall
1914-08-18T01:50:27
18
Aug
1914

Proms 1914: Prom 03

Queen's Hall

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