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
Molly on the Shore for orchestra
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Molly on the Shore for orchestra

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Percy Grainger
The Bride's Tragedy
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The Bride's Tragedy

The Bride's Tragedy

Orchestra
English Country Gardiner Orchestra
Percy Grainger
Irish Tune From County Derry
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Irish Tune From County Derry

Irish Tune From County Derry

Ensemble
Royal Northern College Of Music Wind Band
Percy Grainger
The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart
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The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart

The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart

Ensemble
Royal Northern College Of Music Wind Band
Percy Grainger
In a Nutshell Suite
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In a Nutshell Suite
Percy Grainger
Country Gardens
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Country Gardens
Percy Grainger
A Lincolnshire Posy
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A Lincolnshire Posy

A Lincolnshire Posy

Ensemble
Royal Northern College Of Music Wind Band
Percy Grainger
Green Bushes
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Green Bushes
Percy Grainger
Fair Young Mary
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Fair Young Mary
Percy Grainger
O'er The Morr
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O'er The Morr
Percy Grainger
The Women Are A'Gane Wud
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The Women Are A'Gane Wud
Percy Grainger
My Faithful Fond One
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My Faithful Fond One
Percy Grainger
I'm Seventeen Come Sunday
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I'm Seventeen Come Sunday
Percy Grainger
Creeping Jane
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Creeping Jane
Percy Grainger
Brigg Fair
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Brigg Fair
Percy Grainger
The Warriors
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The Warriors
Percy Grainger
Scotch Strathspey and Reel
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Scotch Strathspey and Reel
Percy Grainger
Colonial Song
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Colonial Song
Percy Grainger
English Dance
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English Dance
Percy Grainger
Handel in the Strand
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Handel in the Strand
Percy Grainger
In a Nutshell (Pastoral)
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In a Nutshell (Pastoral)
Percy Grainger
Jungle Book
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Jungle Book
Percy Grainger
Hill Song No 2
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Hill Song No 2
Percy Grainger
Hill Song No 1
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Hill Song No 1
Percy Grainger
Marching Song of Democracy
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Marching Song of Democracy
Percy Grainger
Tribute to Foster
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Tribute to Foster

Tribute to Foster

Orchestra
English Country Gardiner Orchestra
Percy Grainger
Walking Tune
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Walking Tune
Percy Grainger
Molly on the Shore
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Molly on the Shore
Percy Grainger
Mowgli's Song Against People for piano duet
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Mowgli's Song Against People for piano duet
Percy Grainger
English Waltz
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English Waltz
Percy Grainger
Handel in the Strand
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Handel in the Strand
Percy Grainger
Shepherd's Hey!
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Shepherd's Hey!
George Gershwin
Love walked in
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Love walked in
Percy Grainger
Over The Hills and Far Away
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Over The Hills and Far Away
Percy Grainger
To a Nordic Princess (bridal song) vers. piano
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To a Nordic Princess (bridal song) vers. piano
Percy Grainger
Molly on the Shore
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Molly on the Shore
Percy Grainger
Molly on the Shore
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Molly on the Shore
Percy Grainger
Goodbye to Love arr Gibbs
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Goodbye to Love arr Gibbs
Percy Grainger
Blithe bells
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Blithe bells

Blithe bells

Performer
Jayson Gillham
Last played on
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
Bell Piece (Ramble on J. Dowland's "Now, O Now I Needs Must Part")
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Bell Piece (Ramble on J. Dowland's "Now, O Now I Needs Must Part")
Maurice Ravel
La vallée des cloches
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La vallée des cloches
Claude Debussy
Pagodes [Estampes]
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Pagodes [Estampes]
Percy Grainger
Harvest Hymn
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Harvest Hymn
Maurice Ravel
La vallée des cloches (Miroirs)
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La vallée des cloches (Miroirs)
Percy Grainger
O mistress mine
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O mistress mine
Percy Grainger
Shallow Brown
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Shallow Brown
Percy Grainger
The Lost Lady Found (A Lincolnshire Posy)
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The Lost Lady Found (A Lincolnshire Posy)
Percy Grainger
Dublin Bay [Lisbon] (A Lincolnshire Posy)
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Dublin Bay [Lisbon] (A Lincolnshire Posy)
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Past BBC Events

Proms 2003: Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 2003
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eg5fxj
Royal Albert Hall
2003-09-13T03:19:10
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
2002-09-14T03:19:10
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
1988-09-17T03:19:10
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
1948-08-21T03:19:10
21
Aug
1948

Proms 1948: Prom 25

Royal Albert Hall
Proms 1914: Prom 03
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ezz9mb
Queen's Hall
1914-08-18T03:19:10
18
Aug
1914

Proms 1914: Prom 03

Queen's Hall

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