Percy Grainger

Folk Song Settings

  Percy Grainger is seen by many people as essentially a composer of trivial, inconsequential pieces. However, although he was always a miniaturist, many of his works transcend their form.

He was also prepared to go in new directions, and composed much experimental music, including music which used microtones, and one piece written for a group of theremins, which he arranged for strings, written entirely in glissandos.

He was a person who raised eccentricity to an art form, and his biography, by John Bird, readsPercy Grainger like a work of fiction. He was, among other things, a racialist, but typically, took this so far it became totally removed from the real world, and incidentally revealed the ludicrousness at the heart of racialism. He once refused to sign a lucrative contract, because he didn't trust the other party, who had brown eyes! He tried to expunge his language of all Mediterranean influence, and in the end his communications became so obtuse that his letters need to be translated. In his scores, there are no Italian words - you don't find 'crescendo', you find 'louden' or 'louden lots'. He didn't arrange works, they were 'dished up'. And for him, a pianist was a 'tuned-hammer-string-player'.

The excerpt is from a piano duet, a little-known arrangement of a Faroe Island tune, 'Let's Dance Gay in Green Meadows'. Indeed, it was omitted from a recent edition of the 'complete' piano music. The same tune occurs in Nielsen's 'An Imaginary Trip to the Faroe Islands'. The tuned-hammer-string-players are Benjamin Britten and Viola Tunnard. The CD is from London, is entitled 'Salute to Percy Grainger', and contains a wide selection of songs, orchestral pieces and choral arrangements. The number is 425 159-2 LM.

There is a MIDI transcription of the complete piece on my MIDI page.


Grainger - Let's Dance Gay in Green MeadowsPlay the sample Back to music pageBack to the music page Back to home pageBack to the home page