A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger
by Thomas P. Lewis

Selected Chapters


Table of Contents to Source Guide
1. Biographical/Artistic Vignettes
4. Program Notes

4. PROGRAM NOTES, continued




Version for mixed chorus, organ and orchestra

Grainger: "For my darling mother, united with her in loving adoration of Walt Whitman.

"Composed: summer 1901, yule 1908, summer 1915. Finally scored: summer 1915, spring & summer 1916, spring 1917. Yule-gift to mother, yule 1908. Birthday-gift to mother, 3, 7, 1915. Birthday-gift to mother, 3, 7, 1916. Birthday-gift to mother, 3, 7, 19 17.[Also scored for band 1948. Vocal-piano score publ. by G. Schirmer, 1916. (Ed.)]

"In A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads (Leaves of Grass) Walt Whitman wrote:

The New World receives with joy the poems of the antique, with European feudalism's rich fund of epics, plays, ballads... and though, if I were asked to name the most precious bequest to current American civilization from all the hitherto ages, I am not sure but I would name those old and less old songs ferried from east to west--some serious words and debits remain; some acrid considerations demand a hearing. Of the great poems received from abroad and from the ages, and today enveloping and penetrating America; is there one that is consistent with these United States, or essentially applicable to them as they are and are to be? Is there one whose underlying basis is not a denial and insult to democracy?

"When a boy or 16 or 17 I was greatly struck by the truth of this assertion, not merely as regards America and literature, but as applying no less to Australia and the other younger Democracies, and to all the arts; and I felt a keen longing to play my part in the creation of music that should reflect the easy-going, happy-go-lucky, yet robust hopefulness and the undisciplined individualistic energy of the athletic out-of-door Anglo-Saxon newer nations.

"When in Paris during the Exhibition of 1900, I happened unexpectedly upon the statue of George Washington when strolling about the streets, and somehow or other this random occurrence galvanized in me a definite desire to typify the buoyant on-march of optimistic humanitarian democracy in a musical composition in which a forward-striding host of comradely affectionate athletic humanity might be heard chanting the great pride of man in himself, the underlying urges to be heroic but not martial, exultant but not provocative, passionate but not dramatic, energetic but not fierce, athletic but not competitive.

"My original plan was to write my Marching Song of Democracy for voices and whistlers only (no instruments), and have it performed by a chorus of men, women, and children singing and whistling to the rhythmic accompaniment of their tramping fee t as they marched along in the open air; but a later realization of the need for instrumental color inherent in the character of the music from the first ultimately led me to score it for the concert-hall. An athletic out-of-door spirit must, however, be understood to be behind the piece from start to finish

"The vocal parts are sung to 'nonsense syllables' such as children use in their thoughtless singing; firstly, because I thought that a more varied and instinctive vocalism could be obtained without the use of words in music of a polyphonic nature (a f reely-moving many-voicedness is the natural musical counterpart of individualistic democratic tendencies), and secondly, because I did not want to pin the music down, at each moment, to the precise expression of such definite and concrete thoughts as word s inevitably convey, but aimed at devoting it, rather, to a less 'mental' immersion in a general central emotional mood.

"The musical material dates from the summer of 1901 (Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany), December, 1908 (Stawell, Vic., Wangaratta, Vic., Albury, N.S.W., Australia), and the summer of 1915 (New York City, U.S.A.); the final scoring was made in the summer of 1915, the spring and summer of 1916 and the spring of 1917 (New York City).

"TO THE CHORUS, re 'NONSENSE SYLLABLES'. All the vowels should be pronounced as in Italian with the exception of 'u', which should be sounded as 'u' in English 'rum'. Thus 'rum' should sound like English 'rum'. 'pum' should rhyme with English 'plum'.

"The vowel 'i' should always be sounded long, like 'ee' in English 'flee'. Thus 'pim' should rhyme with English 'dream', 'rim' should sound like English 'ream', 'dim' like English 'deem', `tim' like English 'team'. Hm' stands for a sharply accented 'h ' occurring in the middle of a continuous humming ('m`). N.B. You can alter the nonsense syllables to suit your own comfort as long as you retain their general characteristics.

"[Headnote:] At quick marching speed."

Version for band

"In its original form for chorus, orchestra and organ, Marching Song of Democracy had considerable success in the decade following its first performance. However, the gradual eclipse of Grainger's professional career as pianist/composer resulte d in virtually total neglect of this and other larger-scale works. In 1948, however, apparently as a result of some successful performances of several of his works by the Goldman Band, Grainger decided to score the work for wind band, which he completed i n the summer of that year. Several performances ensued, and G. Schirmer indicated their intention to publish it. However, publication was not forthcoming and the work has remained in manuscript, virtually unknown. Even those conductors and bands who have had experience with it have found the performing materials which Grainger provided (parts and condensed score) producing serious obstacles in the way of successful performance, since both contain numerous errors (wrong notes and rhythms) and are also diff icult to read. Grainger subsequently made a full score (1950-52) which makes the task of practical performance somewhat easier, but until now [1982] the score-format (on large outsize-length paper) has made it difficult to reproduce. Thanks to Keith Brion , who provided me with a copy of this score, I have been able to assemble a full score which can be readily reproduced, thus making the work easily available in full-score format. In addition, in the summer of 1980, I spent the better part of two months m aking a corrected and revised set of parts, which takes care of the over 100 errors that are in the original manuscript parts. Thus, as far as the performing materials themselves are concerned, it is now possible for band directors to make an accurate ass essment of the work in its band version.

"Yet in the case of this and other large-scale and more complex works of Grainger, more than performing materials and Grainger's preface are needed to give directors sufficient insight and understanding of the music. It is hoped that the following des criptive and formal analysis will provide some basis for that understanding and will further stimulate interest in, and exploration of, this major work in Grainger's output.

"The work opens with a vigorous and energetic theme which sets the on-going-march mood effectively (THEME 1-A; measures 1-7). Rising from a single C in the bass it soon spreads into four independent yet closely related parts, unified by intervallic and motivic cells. A short 3-bar interlude (ms.8-10) using variants of the opening material leads to THEME 1-B--a more lyric, flowing melody which also has its contrapuntal complement (ms.10-13). THEME 1-C soon follows--it is really a series of scalar motives--both ascending and descending, chromatic and diatonic--in different rhythmic guises (ms.14-30). The first theme-group closes with a varied statement of THEME 1-A, together with fragments of 1-B (ms.30-34) . A typical Grainger harmonic progression using richly-voiced parallel chords (ms.35-37) leads to the introduction of THEME 2--a beautifully arched and expansive melody in D flat major that is somewhat reminiscent of Elgar in its lyric sweep, rh ythmically spiced with some 3/8 bars (ms.38-50). The lyric mood is suddenly dispelled by an emphatic declaration of the scalar motives (THEME 1-C; ms.50-61) in both ascending and descending versions simultaneously. The descending motive is now elab orated into a melody with an ornamental turn (ms.51-54 etc.)and the scales appear in rhythmic diminution building to a climactic chord (ms.62). THEME 1-A now reappears (ms.62-69) and is then answered by THEMES 1-B, 2 and 1-C (ms.69-84) all woven together in ingenious, imaginative counterpoint. A remarkable passage follows (ms.85-103), using the scalar motives of 1-C in parallel-7th chord formations (descending in treble voices, ascending in bass). In the midst of the building up of this sect ion, a new epic-style theme appears (THEME 3; ms.91-95) which is actually made up of earlier motives. This rises to a powerful climax (ms.101-104) which closes the third section of the work, modulating to E flat major. THEME 4 now makes its appearance (ms.104-116)--a heroic, energetic and rather boisterous melody closely related to THEME 2. This leads to THEME 4-A, a slightly more lyric and exalted idea (ms.117-131) which builds to a burst of energy closing the fourth section. Section 5 begins with another new theme (THEME 5-A) which is actually a transformation and expansion of earlier motives (b and d)(ms.132-136). This is followed by THEME 5-B (related to the ascending versio n of 1-C; ms.137-142) with additional motivic reminiscences and variants. The varying elements (motives a and b; THEMES 1-B and 1-C) are coalesced into a marvellous contrapuntal tapestry (ms.141-149) modulating to the key of G flat major which soon appears as a pedal point (ms.155-170) over which a richly-scored sequence of chromatic chords is stated (ms.160-168). This leads to a magnificent epic-heroic coda using THEME 3 as its basis (ms.171-207). The ongoing march appears to finally come to a halt with the glorious sustained sonority of the G flat triad in ms.103, but in true democratic fashion the four horns individually state the G flat triad, each in their own rhythm, right to the last bar!

"This mighty, epic conclusion provides a stunning peroration to a remarkable work which, for all its stylistic disparities, remains one of Grainger's greatest achievements, and certainly deserves to be ranked with the finest compositions for wind band ."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ V/1; Unknown)

"Difficulty: advanced.

"Though technique is not a major problem, there are considerable problems of range, control and endurance, especially for trumpets and horns. The greatest problem, however, is in interpreting and comprehending the piece, which is quite subtl e in formal design and takes some living with to grasp effectively."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).

MARCHING TUNE--mixed chorus and brass band

[Edition for mixed chorus and piano vers. of band accompaniment publ. by Schott & Co, 1911. (Ed.)]

British Folk-Music Settings No. 9

Grainger: "Yule 1905. Taken down from the singing of Mr. Joseph Taylor, of Saxby-All-Saints, Lincs., 11.4.1905. The above title is added by me: Mr. Taylor's words to this tune began 'Once I courted a damsel' (see Journal of the Folksong Society Nr. 7, p. 81) but as he could not remember a whole verse even of his words I have adapted to the tune the below verses from two ballad-sheets in the British Museum, 'March to the Battlefield', Ballads coll. by T. Crampton, Vol. 4, [and] 'My anc estors were Englishmen', Ballad-sheets coll. by S. Baring-Gould, Vol. 3."


[Edition for 4 voices and harmonium or organ ad lib. published 1950 by G. Schirmer (USA, Canada), Allen & Co. (Australasia), Schott & Co. (London). (Ed.)]

English Gothic Music, edited by Dom Anselm Hughes and Percy Grainger

Grainger: "Date: 13th or 14th cent. Original MS.: New Coll., Oxford, MS 362 f.89. Transcribed from the original manuscript by Dom Anselm Hughes, O.S.B. Edited for practical music-making by Percy Aldridge Grainger. English text transcribed fr om the Latin original by Dom Anselm Hughes, O.S.B. "For 4-single Mixed Voices or 4-part Mixed Chorus.

"[Headnote:] Fairly fast.

"The voices may be accompanied by Strings, or by Winds, or by combinations of Strings and Winds. In particular the 'Marionette Douce' melody (lowest voice part) may be reinforced by instruments, even when the other vocal parts are not. (See Full Score for all Instruments.)

"The number may be transposed, up or down. If the 'Marionette Douce' melody is sung by High Baritone(s), instead of by Bass(es), the piece may be transposed up a whole tone, or even a minor third."


[Edition for mixed chorus and piano (for practice only), publ. by Thames Publishing, 1982. (Ed.)]

Headnote: "Flowingly."

"Mary Thomson was Grainger's last a capella folksetting. He noted the tune by ear from Samuel Holdstock at the Mill House, Wittersham, in Kent, on August 21st, 1909, while Mrs. Edith Lyttleton took down the words. With typical attention to detail, Grainger wrote of Samuel Holdstock 'born 16.8.1822 at Buolds, Wittersham, Kent. Here all his life except two years at Appledore. (Dealt with) cattle and ships. Worked up to he was 79 and then got hurt. Wouldn't sing on a Sunday. Even in his wild days he had never done that. Went up to London to see Queen Victoria's funeral and he never wished to see another.'

"The day after noting the tune, Grainger completed one verse of the setting. Two more verses were sketched (in a different key) on a manuscript dated May 16th, 1910. At a later date he wrote out the four vocal parts for performance and later still pas ted cut-up photocopies onto a sheet and added a rehearsal piano part. He labelled this score as one of his 'British Folk-Music Settings' without specifying a publication number."--David Tall (Part-Songs).


Version for piano solo

[Edition published by Schott & Co., 1939. (Ed.)]

British Folk-Music Settings No. 38

Grainger: "English folk-song from Sussex, England, noted down by P. A. Grainger from the singing of Alfred Hunt (at Wimbledon, London, August, 1905) and set for room-music (10 or more winds or strings and piano) Sketched for chorus, about 1905 or 1906 . Sketched for room-music, July, 1936. Worked out for room-music, late 1938 and early 1939. Dished-up for piano solo, 1936-1939.

"[Headnote:] Flowingly, somewhat waywardly.

"PROGRAM-NOTE. Mr. Alfred Hunt, who sang me The Merry King, was a working man who hailed from Kirdford, West Sussex.

"The words of his first verse ran as follows:

It's a merry king of Old England
That stole my love away;
And it's I in Old England
No longer can't stay.
I'll swim the wide ocean
All on my bare breast
For to find out my true love
Whom I do love best.

"The text of all his verses (6), and notes on the song, may be consulted in Journal of the Folk-Song Society, No. 12 (London, 1908).

"Another singer (one of England's greatest folk-singers: Mr. Henry Burstow, of Horsham, Sussex) sang the following amusing variant of the first two lines:

The Americans that stole my true-love away,
And I here in England no longer can stay."

"The Merry King... went through several incarnations: as a sketch for chorus ('1905 or 1906'), as a 'room-music' (i.e. chamber ensemble) sketch (1936), as a full version 'worked out for room-music late 1938 and early 1939' and, finally, 'Dished-up for piano solo 1936-39'. Four verses of the melody are set to increasingly elaborate harmonisations and, as with so many of Grainger's slower settings, the harmony moves freely from the straightforwardly diatonic (liberally spiced with sevenths and suspensions) to a languorous Delius-like chromaticism."--John Pickard (Piano 3).

"There are four verses [of this masterly setting] of which the second is interesting for its enormous stretched-chord sequences and the fourth for its impassioned canonic treatment."--Leslie Howard (Piano 1).

Version for band (with piano)

"Set 1936-39, from sketches for chorus 1906. This beautiful little work is a theme and variations--the theme is stated by the winds alone; the first variation introduces the piano embroidering the melody; the second features the melody in bass clar inet and baritone saxophone; the third is for piano alone; and the last features a dialog between clarinet and trumpet. A brief coda concludes the work, using arpeggio flourishes in the piano while the trumpet plays the beginning of the theme."--Joseph Kreines (Unknown).

MO NIGHEAN DHU (My dark-haired maiden)--chorus

[Edition for mixed chorus and piano (for practice only, or to be played as piano solo), publ. by Thames Publishing, 1982. "This edition is based on the original manuscript source as ed ited by Ronald Stevenson, with additional editorial markings within square brackets taken from Grainger's later piano version (see Three Scotch Folksongs [entry below] for piano) by Dr. David Tall." See also entry for Songs of the North, below. (Ed.)]

Melody from Songs of the North (ed. by Macleod and Boulton), arr. by Percy Grainger. Words: Dr. John Parke.

Headnote: "Rather slow, with tender expression."

"Mo Nighean Dhu is one of 14 settings (12 songs and two choral works) composed by Grainger in 1900, when he was 18 years old. His source was the publication Songs of the North, a set of songs and choruses with piano accompaniment from wh ich he took the words and melody and added his own harmonisations. The manuscript is inscribed 'For dear Mother's birthday. July 3rd 1900. Remembering a graet kindness in the permittance of a highland trip.'

"His style had developed enormously over the previous 18 months, since his first settings of folksongs and popular tunes were characterised by bold but often experimental harmonies. The Songs of the North are of a different dimension, with Grai nger replacing the pleasant but conventional accompaniments of the arranger, Malcolm Lawson, by subtle intuitive harmonies that complement the basically pentatonic Scottish melodies. In Mo Nighean Dhu, for instance, he uses chords with added second s, sixths and sevenths without recourse to a single note outside the C major tonality. In his first a capella choral setting Grainger has developed a musical personality of his own, just two years before the masterpiece the Irish Tune from Coun ty Derry."--David Tall (Part-Songs).

THE MERRY WEDDING (BR<214>NSVEINS V<205>SA) (BRIDAL DANCE)--solo voices, chorus and orchestra

[Vocal and piano score published by Oliver Ditson Co., 1916. (Ed.)]

Grainger (September 1915, New York City): "For Kameraten Karen Holten. Composed: 1912-1913. Scored: summer 1915. Text Englished by Rose Grainger and Percy Aldridge Grainger.

"[Headnote:] In flowing dance measure.


For solo voices, chorus, piano, and strings. N.B. The Merry Wedding can also be performed by 9 solo voices (singing from this score), mixed chorus (singing from this score), piano (playing from this score) and strings (solo strings, or m assed strings, as many or as few as you like, playing from the orchestral string parts).

For solo voices, chorus, and piano. N.B. The Merry Wedding can also be performed by 9 solo voices (singing from this score), mixed chorus (singing from this score) and piano (playing from this score).

For 9 solo voices and accompaniment (without chorus). N.B. The whole of the vocal part of The Merry Wedding can be performed in small halls by 9 solo voices (2 sopranos, 2 altos, 2 tenors, 1 baritone, 2 basses, singing from this s core), if they sing not only the Solo passages, but also those marked 'Full Chorus' and 'Half-chorus'. In this case the accompaniment should be piano only, or piano and a few strings, as indicated above.

"I was inspired to write this bridal dance music (which is not based on folk-tunes) by the following lovely refrain text from a Faeroe Island (Scandinavian) folk-poem entitled Brúnsveins Vísa (The Song of Brownswain) on page 250 of V. U. Hammer shaimb's Farösk Anthologi (Copenhagen, 1886):

Allfagurt ljódar mín tunga,
lystir meg í dans gá med junga,
brúnt er mítt silihár,
mjöllhvit so eri eg sjálv,
allfagurt ljódar mín tunga.

Hark to my voice in a sweet song,
fain to tread the dance with the fleet throng;
brown is my silky hair,
snow-white is my skin so fair;
hark to my voice in a sweet song.

"These lines seemed to me to breathe a spirit closely akin to the gentle glowing joyousness of Denmark, which I was longing to thankfully give voice to at that time (1912).

"But though the words of the refrains of Faeroe Island dance ballads curiously often reflect a suave blossoming summery mood, I searched in vain for any whole ballad in which this blithe note was sounded throughout.

"The plots of Faeroe Island ballads are epic--active, dramatic, tragic; the ringing rhythmic verses soon overflow with blood, violence and disaster, and these elements would have been out of place in my bridal music. But a good few gentle, affectionate and luck-laden verses are to be found strewn around in the thick sheaf of poems that make up Hammershaimb's wonderful Anthology, and some of these I patched loosely together and adapted to the needs of The Merry Wedding with the results that follow [in the printed score]."


Room-music Tit-Bits No. 1

Grainger: "Birthday-gift, Mother, 3.7.10. For string six-some (6 single players) or string band. Begun 19.5.1910. Ended 4.6.1910. No folk-music tune-stuffs at all are used herein. The rhythmic cast of the piece is Morris-like, but neither the build of the tunes nor the general lay-out of the form keeps to the Morris dance step.

"[Headnote:] At fast jog trotting speed."

Version for orchestra

"'Mock Morris' is an entirely original pastiche produced with tongue firmly in cheek. So convincing is it, that Grainger had to spend much energy and time assuring others that it was an original composition."--John Bird (Rambles).

Version for piano solo

[Edition published by Scott & Co., 1912. (Ed.)]

"Mock Morris was originally written for `string six-some or string-band' between 19 May and 4 June 1910 and was dished-up twice for piano in both `concert' and `popular' versions. Mock Morris is a fine example of a Grainger work which appears to be folksong-based but which is in fact original.... Grainger did admit at the bottom of the score that 'the tune of bars 9, 10, 11 & 12 is (unwittingly) cribbed from an early Magnificat of Cryil Scott's. He has used the phrase again in a piano piece Chimes, op. 40, No. 3 (Elkin & Co. Ltd.), in which it can be consulted.'"--John Pickard (Piano 1).


British Folk-Music Settings No. 19

Version for piano solo

Grainger: "Birthday-gift, Mother, 3.7 '07. Irish Reel for piano based on two Cork Reel tunes, 'Temple hill' and 'Molly on the shore', respectively Nos. 901 and 902 of The Complete Petrie Collection of Ancient Irish Music edited by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (Boosey & Co., London).[See also Irish Tune from County Derry, above. (Ed.)] Molly on the shore was originally set for string four-some or string band (summer 1907))(Schott & Co., London). Molly on the shore is also set for symphony orchestra, theatre orchestra, and violin and piano (Early 1914)(Schott & Co., London). "

"An Irish reel is the tune used here which was 'Dished up for piano' while Grainger was stationed at Bayridge in Brooklyn, New York."--Selma Epstein (Epstein 1).

"Faithful to the Irish reel spirit, Grainger preserves the tune as a kind of ostinato with very varied accompaniments."--Leslie Howard (Piano 1).

"Like [all] the other British Folk-Music Settings, Molly on the Shore is 'Lovingly and reverently dedicated to the memory of Edvard Grieg'."--John Hopkins (Orchestral 2).

Version for band (1920)

"Molly on the Shore [is a] Morris Dance which] was originally 'tone wrought' for a 'fiddle four-some' (string band)... Grainger 'dished-up' his band version in the spring of 1920, creating one of the great 'finger busters' in the lite rature. It remains one of his most popular and beautifully conceived creations. The clarity of his scoring and his unique use of tuneful percussion has helped to keep Molly at the forefront of showpieces for the world's finest bands."--Dana Perna (Michigan).

"Difficulty: advanced.

"One of Grainger's most engaging works, this also requires the most technical facility and precision, especially from the woodwinds, and particularly for the clarinets. It repays the considerable time and attention necessary, in the resultin g development of technical skill and audience delight."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).

"Molly on the Shore, one of the key pieces around which Grainger's popularity has tended to revolve, is actually an Irish reel, and with it Grainger mixes in a second tune called 'Temple Hill'. This is a marvelous example of scoring f or band. Maintaining the metronome marking of [half note] = 126 for string quartet or four hands at two pianos is not too great a problem, but in this setting for wind band, it's a devil to play--but fun!"--Eric Banks (British 2).


"Grainger and Delius shared a warm friendship with Edvard Grieg, who wrote to Delius in 1903, 'You have now reached the zenith of your life, I mean that point in life when the artist does his best work.' Three years later, hearing Grainger play Morning Song in the Jungle and a number of folk settings in London, Grieg leapt to his feet and exclaimed, 'Now it can't be said that the English aren't musical!'"--David Tall.


[Editions published by Schott & Co. include full score and wind and string parts of version for eight-some; score and parts of version for fiddle, bass-fiddle ('cello) and piano, 1 912; and piano version. (Ed.)]

Settings of Songs and Tunes from William Chappell's Old English Popular Music No. 2.

Version for 8 instruments

Grainger: "My robin is to the greenwood gone. A room-music ramble [paraphrase or fantasy for chamber ensemble] upon the first 4 bars of the old tune of that name, for Flute, English horn and 6 strings. Begun: 10.2.12. Ended: 5.5.12. The bit of the old song I have used is:


"For the whole of the tune see page 153 of William Chappell's Old English Popular Music, edited by H. E. Wooldridge (Chappell & Co., London, 1893). In its entirety it makes a charming and quite different impression to that produced by my treatm ent of its first phrase and by the free ramble that follows.

"[Headnote:] With a drowsy lilt.

"There is a beautiful upward rise of the tune to a seventh and an octave, thus Grainger is able to extend and develop this tiny fragment into a work of great charm and touchingness. The players are instructed to play it with a 'drowsy lilt' and it bears the Maori dedication 'Mo te hoa takatapui, Roger Quilter' (In company with my intimate friend, Roger Quilter)."--John Bird (Rambles).

"Grainger: 'My Robin Is to the Greenwood Gone is a development of a fragment of an old English popular song--not a folksong.' "--Frederick Fennell (Country Gardens).

Version for piano solo

"[The arrangement] is hardly a setting at all but a 'room-music ramble upon the first 4 bars of the old tune of that name'. As with many of the slower settings, the influence of Grainger's friend Delius is strongly felt throughout--especially in te rms of harmony and the generally dreamlike atmosphere of the whole. It eventually trails off without any true resolution--to magical effect."--John Pickard (Piano 3).

NELL (Gabriel Fauré)--piano solo

"Grainger worshipped composers from the French school and gave many first performances of piano works by Debussy and Ravel in Britain and Australia. They represented for him the front line of defence against the awesome hegemony of the Austr o-German musical traditions which he despised so much. Fauré was similarly one of Grainger's heroes and they met and became friends in England before the Great War. This transcription made in 1925 of one of the Frenchman's loveliest songs is among Grainger's most skilful."--John Bird (Adni).

"Nell and Après un Rêve are amongst Fauré's most popular songs and Grainger treats them to settings of great refinement and delicacy--showing that he is a master of subtlety as well as a purveyor of tempestous virtuosity (notice, for example, how the melodic line is constantly changing register--frequently appearing in the middle of the texture)."--John Pickard (Piano 4).


Joseph Smith edition for piano solo

"If we use the word 'pianistic' to mean music that makes an imaginative, effective use of the instrument's special resources, then the works of Grainger are supremely pianistic. If, however, we mean music calculated to be brilliant, eupho nious and comfortable to play, Grainger's is emphatically not. This is not surprising, considering that most of his 'piano' works were originally conceived for orchestra or chamber ensemble. With typically Graingeresque perversity, he professed to loathe the instrument he played with such apparent enthusiasm, and to have transcribed his works for the piano only for commercial considerations. (Nevertheless, he himself did perform them.)

"Being compressed scores, his works are generally contrapuntally dense, and the chief difficulty in playing them lies in differentiating the voices by means of dynamics and touch--even the relatively uncomplicated 'The Nightingale' and 'The Two Sisters' largely avoids a conventional melody-plus-accompaniment texture. This 1949 re-working of an orchestral movement is based on two Danish folksongs, both on eerie fairy-tale like subjects, collected by Evald Tang Kristensen and Grainger himself in 1922.

"By beginning the piece with the pedal already down, we can give the first note a little extra warmth. Whereas bars 1-3 make a short but complete statement, the b7 chord in bar 5 raises a question to be answered by the following measures: to what key are we going? Therefore, I recommend moving the tempo slightly from bar 4 towards the fermata in bar 5, to suggest a longer thought (similarly in bar 12).

"Music notation has more resources for indicating nuances of dynamics than for shadings of tempo--hairpins mark a slight ebb and flow of loudness, but one cannot indicate fluctuations of tempo with symbols, only with words (rit., a tempo, etc.). Ye t a certain fluidity of tempo is often what enables a piece to live and breathe. By varying the lengths of the many fermatas, we can enhance the effect of spontaneity. (In the orchetral version Grainger marks the climactic one in bar 30 'lunga').

"Both the original folksong and Grainger's orchestral setting have a different reading than the piano version for the first triplet of bar 7--A, F Sharp, E--and this seems logical, since it parallels bar 15. Are the notes in the piano setting a slip of the pen, or a variant? There is no certain answer, you may make your own choice.

"I like playing bar 7 pianissimo, to draw attention to the fact that its harmonies are slightly different from those of the bar preceding, and to prepare the swell in bar 8. The extended arpeggiation of the left-hand chords of bar 11 pose a special pr oblem. If one could hold down all the chord tones with the hand, it would be natural to use a legato pedalling--changing the pedal immediately after the second chord. As the passage stands, though, if we do so, we lose the important lower notes of the chord, and thus we must instead pedal from the beginning of the roll. Now one is faced with the choice of leaving a hole in the octave melody between G and A, or holding the A and letting it muddy the chord. I prefer to split the difference; I hold over only the upper note of the A octave, giving me the comfort of a physical legato, without leaving a noticable residue in the E minor chord.

"Sometimes, the demands of logical voice-leading cause a piano composer to write the same pitch in the same octave in two voices at once. The E above middle C on the second beat of bar 14, as well as the D on the second beat of 15, are written as thou gh played by both thumbs. However, using both fingers hinders our control of the note's dynamic. The louder voice--here, the treble--should play it, the softer one, omit it. In such cases, I find it helps my visual memory to mark parentheses around the unplayed voice.

"In the first beat of bar 16, arithmetic proves that the second note in the right hand is simultaneous with the left-hand C sharp. (The values of


are literally the same in duration as those of

.) However, to convey the inflection of the rhythm--to make the triplet sound like a triplet--we must de-emphasize the right-hand sixteenth.

"Everything conspires to make shading the dynamics of the resolution in bar 17 difficult. The subsidiary voices of the first chord must be softer than the melody octaves, and the resolution softer still. However, the very fact that this resolution com es after the last melody note automatically tends to give it an unwelcome prominence. Furthermore, the stretched position of the hand and the tied notes are physically constraining. (Grainger often provides alternatives for small hands. In honesty, though , those with small hands will find the overall configurations of his music uncomfortable. Even those with a good-sized stretch may find the opening of his Blithe Bells a sobering prospect.) To control the softness of the second chord, it is helpful to sink deeply into the first chord and slowly raise the wrists while depressing the second chord, thus exerting a counter-active motion. Happily, the common tones in the two chords allow us to overlap the pedal generously, giving the second chord a myst erious, undefined attack. Therefore, change the pedal, slowly but completely, well after the second chord. It would be strategic to save the use of the soft pedal in this phrase for this chord. Is this evading the technical problem? No--technique is no t only controlling the muscles, but also determining the appropriate tools to use.

"The left-hand resolution appearing first in bars 18-19 poses a similar problem. We will want to connect that stabbing C natural to the following B, but the chord's stretch makes this impractical. Fortunately, though, the B doesn't 'know' from what no te it has been connected--it only knows with what touch it has been depressed. By releasing the C and instead connecting one of the tied notes to the B, we can ensure that it has an appropriately subdued sound. Put weight on the already depressed E or F Sharp, and gently transfer it to the B (second finger) while slowly raising the wrist, as above, and connecting with the pedal as well. It is a pianistic paradox that we can sometimes best project correct voice-leading by violating it with our hands!

"The strongest impression of legato comes not only from the unbroken connection of tones, but also from smooth dynamics. Because every note struck on the piano decays in loudness. the smoothest transition from note to note occurs in a diminuendo. Obvi ously, however, a continous diminuendo is not appropriate for every legato phrase. Therefore, we must always seek chances to catch up--to get unobtrusively louder, so we may begin to diminuendo again. Short notes are often the answer. In the E major se ction, both the sixteenth note G Sharp in the recurring phrase (bar 18, second beat) and the grace notes in bars 22-23, are short as well as being off the beat. Thus, one can play them rather loudly without the angularity that results when beats are stres sed. The left-hand arpeggios starting at bar 25 help by seeming to 'swell' the melody notes above them. We can prepare the piece's climax, the FF of bar 30, by punching out the left-hand thirty-second notes. To get the most richness out of the melo dy octaves, favor the thumb. After the diminuendo has begun, however, the softer phrase beginning with the upbeat to bar 32 sounds even more vulnerable if voiced toward the top. (This upbeat is the one place that the recurring C natural makes a half-step dissonance with the melody--a poignant little throb.)

"Grainger used a melody-in-the-middle texture more than any piano composer. (See his heartbreaking setting of the Irish Tune from County Derry or the opening of his luxuriant Colonial Song.) In the example in bars 36-37, we can make life a little easier by playing the upbeat with a full sound, establishing the middle as the predominant voice. To avoid a collision between the hands, Grainger begins the left-hand octave figure starting on the second eighth note of bar 40 (and again in bar 44) with a single note, where the orchestral version has an octave. This change has the happy result of beginning the phrase with a rising sixth, a seeming allusion to both the first and the E major themes. I like to show this reference by bringing out th e first E and continuing to favor the upper voice of the octaves. Draw the thumb slightly inwards with each one for a firm grip. In bars 42 and 43, the swell in the lower voice threatens to obliterate the held C Sharp above. No matter--if the diminuend o is pronounced enough, we will discover it bravely continuing to ring, as the other voices fade away.

"The final tremolo is a continuation of the fast chord, swelling and diminishing it. The louder the chord, and the softer the tremolo, the better the two will be blended. With the fingering I have suggested, the hands parallel one another--the two thumbs on white notes, the two third fingers on black. After tapering the tremolo down to nothing, continue to keep the pedal down a while without playing--leave the listener in doubt as to whether or not you are still moving your fingers.

"Students who enjoy this piece but are not ready for Grainger's more difficult works might consider playing it as a part of a group of folksong settings drawn from Grieg's op. 66 (five selections are included in my Grieg and Grainger record [Musical Heritage Society MHS 912134Z.]) and Bartók's For Children. Grainger's Three Scotch Folksongs (Henmar Press) are of about the same difficulty as this Danish piece, and share its honest, direct emotionality."--Joseph Smith (Keyboard Classics).

NIMROD VARIATION (Elgar) (1953)--piano solo

"The transcription of 'Nimrod' from Elgar's Engima Variations (in Grainger's words, 'Pianised January 27 1953') is a straightforward rendition of this famous variation. Grainger was apparently fond of the melody, though he greatly dis liked the rest of Elgar's music."--John Pickard (Piano 2).

NOW, O NOW, I NEEDS MUST PART (Dowland) (1935)--piano solo

Grainger: "PROGRAM-NOTE. John Dowland was born, of Irish stock and probably in Ireland, in 1562, and died around 1626. In addition to being one of the greatest song-writers of all time, he was famous in his life-time as a singer and l ute-player, and as such was attached for some years to the court of Christian IV, King of Denmark.

"My piano piece is based on a transcription by Mr. Sidney Beck of 'Now, O now I needs must part' as it appears in a copy of the 1597[?] edition of John Dowland's The First Booke Of Songs Or Ayres Of foure parts with Tableture for the Lute in th e possession of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California, from which library, and from Mr. Sidney Beck, kind permission to use this material has been obtained.

"In my setting the Dowland melody is heard twice: the first time with harmonies almost identical with those of Dowland's lute accompaniment (but adapted to pianistic technic) and the second time with free harmonies and a tail-piece of my own.

"The first verse of the text, that here follows in modern spelling, is typical of the three verses in Dowland's original:

Now, O now I needs must part,
Parting though I absent mourn,
Absence can no joy impart,
Joy once fled can not return.
While I live I needs must love,
Love lives not when life is gone,
Now at last despair doth prove,
Love divided loveth none.

Sad despair doth drive me hence,
This despair unkindness sends,
If that parting be offence,
It is she which then offends.

"In Dowland's publication the song appeared at once as a song for voice with lute accompaniment and as a part-song for four-mixed voices. As a song (for voice with lute or pianoforte accompaniment) it is published in the first volume of The Englis h School of Lute Writers, transcribed, scored, and edited from the original editions by Edmund Horace Fellowes, M.A., Mus.Doc. (Winthrop Rogers, Ltd., London, 1920) and as a part-song for four mixed voices it may be consulted as No. 146 in Geschich te der Musik in Beispielen by Arnold Schering (Breitkopf & Haertel, Leipzig, 1931)."

"[This transcription of Dowland's song] bears the inscription 'for my darling Aunty Clara, with fond love'. It consists of two verses, the second of which is far more harmonically elaborate, transporting Dowland's melody into the world of Du ke Ellington by way of the chromaticism of Delius."--John Pickard (Piano 2).

O MENSCH, BEWEIN' DEIN' SÜNDE GROSS (Chorale Prelude)(J. S. Bach)

[Version edited by Keith Brion and Michael Brand published by Jenson Publications Inc. (USA) / R. Smith & Co. Ltd. (England), 1987. (Ed.)]

Chosen Gems for Winds

Grainger: "Set for wind-band. [Headnote:] Slowly flowing."

"The Chorale-Prelude: O Mensch, bewein' dein' Sünde gross (O, Man, now weep for thy great Sin) is taken from Bach's Orgelbüchlein [Little Organ Book] collection. Grainger created the setting between 1937 and 1942. While not unu sual today, his beautiful realization of the ornamentation was revolutionary in the 1940s.

"Grainger's written out trills and melodic ornamentation may appear intricate, however once basic rhythm is established, simple repetition will allow graceful synchronization of these elements. Perform the ornaments as a natural part of the melodic to ne-line. Play the quick notes and the long ones with matching sonority. Support legato phrases with resonant breath that flows equally through ornament and melody. The ornament must never interfere with the flowing legato of the musical line. Grainger's Bach is not a mechanical organ, but rather a human wind-chorale.

"In this edition [by Keith Brion and Michael Brand, 1987], the beaming of eighth notes follows Grainger's manuscript. The groupings indicate both phrasing and rhythm. When the same pitch is repeated under a slur mark (for instance the opening two note s of Tone Strand A), the second note should receive slightly more weight of tone.

"PERCUSSION. The editors have supplied optional parts for mallet percussion. These may be used as a percussion ensemble, or with band. In full band performance, the percussion should not sound forth as a distinct color. All parts are written sempre tremolo. The rolls should not be audible as single notes. Use Orchestra Bells with medium rubber mallets only if Vibraphone and Marimba are unavailable. Hard rubber, plastic or metal mallets will alter the character of the music.

"ELASTIC SCORING. Although Grainger's arrangement of O Mensch... was designated 'set for wind-band', the orchestration formula follows his principles of elastic scoring. Elastic scoring duplicates organ registration by assigning instrume ntal lines ('Tone Strands') to various organ octaves--such as 4 ft., 8 ft. and 16 ft. stops. It suggests the possibility of performing the work with a variety of instrumental combinations.

"Take care to insure equal weight of sound for each tone strand. Conductors wishing to perform this chorale-prelude with instrumental forces smaller than Grainger's full wind-band may consult the following matrix as a guide to balancing available inst ruments. Grainger believed equal balance of voices was more important that instrumental color.


"'To give way to human feelings, to overflow and swim in human feelings is human enough, but the farthest north of humaness is, for me, to be a lightning conductor of such feelings in such a way that they are particularly fitted to fill nitches in coming men's minds...' [The Far North of Humanness, Letters of Percy Grainger 1901-14 ed. by Kay Dreyfus.]

"Grainger's passion for musical expression extended beyond his own compositions. He was fascinated by all music: from avant-garde electronics to great historical works. His interest in early music began to flourish in the 1930s when he became associat ed with specialists Gustave Reese and Arnold Dolmeltsch. Grainger's first arrangement of early music were created in 1932. Subsequently, from 1937-44, a period corresponding with his summer teaching at Interlochen [Michigan], Grainger developed his Ch osen Gems for Winds. Many of the arrangements were first performed at Interlochen.

"The Chosen Gems for Winds are an extensive group of arrangements of music by other composers, music Grainger called 'other people's music'. The Chosen Gems include 23 settings, ranging from the 12th century to Elizabethan music, to such relative 'moderns' as Franck, Fauré and Eugene Goosens. "Grainger believed that there were neglected 'great musics' of every period. He had specific ideas about the value and appropriateness of this music--and how it should be programmed and interpreted.

THE VALUE OF OLDER MUSIC. For some reason or other music, as it is practised in our concert halls, is the most backward of the arts. We would regard as an ignoramus a professor of literature who taught his students nothing about Homer, C onfucius, The Arabian Nights [etc.]... Our audiences are familiar with European music from 1700 to 1900, but before that period (which in the opinion of some studious musicians is one of the weakest periods in musical history) their knowledge does not nor mally extend.... The 500 years of decipherable music that precedes Bach is at least as lovely and important as all post-Bach music, and in the opinion of many well-informed and 'classically-trained' music-lovers, the 20th has already proved itself a century, so far, singularly rich in music of spiritual content and soulful beauty. Yet these old and new musical treasures are, and remain, unperformed in our midst. [Goldman, Richard. The Band's Music (Pitman Publishing, 1937). Ed. note: Grainger's observation--which should be obvious, and never need repeating--does need repeating, being to a degree as true now as when he made it. A further limitation is that the 1700-1900 music which takes up the bulk of most live and radio programs is instrumental.]

APPROPRIATENESS. It is true that most of the older examples of chamber music are for unspecified instruments; but there is no reason to imagine that strings were favored above winds. An examination of old drawings, paintings, sculptures, etc., depicting musical rehearsals and performances will foster a contrary opinion.... The fact that church choirs in the Middle Ages were equipped with portative and positive organs (of the size of reed organs of today) shows that wind color, as much as string color, was considered a normal tonal background to vocal music. [Goldman, Richard. Op. cit.]

PROGRAMMING. ...such uplifting music as this, suitable for performance with massed instruments, together with the delectable morsels for wind chamber music... and balanced with life-lit compositions for band by living composers (such as Stravinsky, Hindemith, Toch and Cowell) justifies the giving of musical festivals for which the band forms the instrumental nucleus. Such undertakings would extend considerably the radius of band activity, would give the band an enhanced aesthetic standin g in the community, and would open up to impressionable band-players new vistas of the extent and sublimity of classical music from 1200 to our day. [Letter from Percy Grainger to Dom Anselm Hughes, October 22, 1948 (courtesy of the Grainger Museum).]

INTERPRETATION. It seems to me that true INDIVIDUALITY... is a condition of highly individual parts forming harmony thru keen awareness-of-the-individuality-of-the-other-parts... I do not expect our modern musicians to know what t o do with the indivualistically vital voice-leadings of the middle ages.... We have got to provide these masses with synthetic individualism, since the natural brand of it could not work in the mass.

"It is the 'individualism' of Grainger's carefully notated interpretive artistry that sets the Chosen Gems apart from other band arrangements. His musical persona sings the lines, stresses harmonic changes, clears the way for important entrance s, drops the volume for the next line to come through, phrases over bar lines, imparts a natural sense of motion, and balances harmonic and melodic textures. In short, he has written the sort of interpretation one hears in a masterful chamber music performance.

"ELASTIC SCORING. Grainger's concept of elastic scoring allowed him to adapt the music to all of the maddeningly possible (or impossible) instrumental combinations one encounters in educational situations. In his early music settings, ea ch musical voice is assigned a 'Tone Strand': Strand A for the soprano line, Strand B for the alto line, etc., through the bass line. These parts may then be played by a variety of instrumental combinations."--Keith Brion and Michael Brand.


[Edition for 2 female voices, 3 male voices and piano (for practice only), publ. by Thames Publishing, 1982. "The piano rehearsal part has been edited by Barry Peter Ould from the original manuscript source. Grainger referred to this setting among his settings of 'Folksongs and Popular Tunes' although it uses the melody by Thomas Morley." (Ed.)]

Headnote: "Fast."

"O Mistress Mine, with tune by Thomas Morley and words by William Shakespeare, was taken by Grainger from William Chappell's Old English Popular Music, the source of several other tunes for settings, including Willow Willow and My Robin is to the Greenwood Gone. It was arranged for chorus in 1903, being dated April 14th and signed in June with the pseudonym 'Ycrep Regniarg' (no prizes for reading this name backwards!). Perhaps the signature suggests that Grainger was consid ering it for publication alongside the Song of Vermeland, which appeared under this pen-name the following year."--David Tall (Part-Songs).

O ROSA BELLA (O Lovely Rosebud)--chorus and instruments

[Edition publ. posthumously by Schott & Co., 1963. (Ed.)]

English Gothic Music series, ed. by Dom Anselm Hughes and Percy Grainger

Grainger and/or Hughes:

"Attributed to John Dunstable (died 1453). Transcribed from the original manuscript by Dom Anselm Hughes, O.S.B. Edited for practical music-making by Percy Aldridge Grainger. English Text translated from the Italian original by Dom Anselm Hughes.

"For 4 single mixed voices or 4-part mixed chorus (Tone-strands A, B, C, D) [Although this score is not reproduced here, the text illustrates once again Grainger's concept of generalized "tone-strands" (to which various instrumentations may be appli ed) rather than specific voice or instrumental parts. See also O Mensch..., pages 224-225 above. (Ed.)] and 2 or more instruments of tenor and bass range (Tone-strands E and F); or for 6 single mixed voices, or 6-part mixed chorus (Tone-strands A, B, C, D, E, F) without instruments, or for 6 single mixed voices, or 6-part mixed chorus (Tone-strands A, B, C, D, E, F) supported by instruments in all tone-strands (A, B, C, D, E, F).

"[Headnote:] Flowingly.

"FOREWORD. Parts B, C, D are the substantial groundwork of the composition. They are found in a dozen or more manuscripts of the 15th and 16th centuries, of which one gives Dunstable as the composer, another John Bedingham. The rest are anonymo us, and that in Trent MS.89 is followed by three extra parts (A, E, F in this edition) marked ut posuit Bedingham--'as Bedingham fitted them'.

"Of these extra parts A fits perfectly, but in the case of E and F there are passages where it looks as if scribal errors have crept into the Trent MS, which makes it impossible to perform the piece in six parts precisely as it stands. In 1900 Cecie S tainer made some ingenious adjustments in Sammelbande der Internationalen Musikgesellschaft II, 4, shifting certain notes and phrases in E and F so that they occur one bar later than in the manuscript. Building on these the present editors have mad e one or two similar adjustments in the same two parts. A comparison of this edition with Bukofzer's in Musica Britannica (1953) viii 133 will show how few are the alterations which have been made. The barring of that edition has been followed in bars 41-46. In bar 26 the rhythms of the first two beats of tone-strand F have been diminished to accommodate an extra beat in the manuscript in this part. Notes added or altered by the editors appear within square brackets.

"It is obvious that the whole texture of the six-part O rosa bella is strangely unlike that of any known composition of the same period. We are confronted here with music of breath-taking originality and daring. But there can be no doubt that t he six parts were intended to be performed together and that the result of so doing is magnificently sonorous and expressive.

"FOR CONDUCTORS. When instruments support the six voices, in all tone-strands the opening passage may be sounded by instruments only, the voices joining in at the words O rosa bella (bars 7, 8, 9).

"When preparing this edition, the editors were guided by their belief that music of this period was probably sung or played with plenty of musica ficta (semitones raised or lowered) which operate to produce far more major triads than are actual ly indicated in the manuscripts. To achieve this effect the singers should follow all the accidentals, large and small. If, on the other hand, they prefer to do so, they may ignore all small accidentals, heeding merely the large ones."

ONE MORE DAY, MY JOHN (c.1915, 1932)--piano solo

[Original (extended) piano solo version published by Schott & Co., 1916. (Ed.)]

Sea-Chanty Settings No. 1

Grainger: "[Sea-chanty] from the fine collection of Mr. Charles Rosher, C.E., F.R.G.S., painter, author and collector of sea-chanties; noted down from his singing by Percy Aldridge Grainger in London in 1906, and here set in the form of a Pr eliminary Canter [short rambling prelude before starting off to play] for Piano. Set fall of 1915, New York City. N.B. This piece may be key-shifted (transposed) into any key so as to serve as a 'preliminary canter' before any piece in any key. All big stretches may be harped (played arpeggio) at will.

"[Headnote:] Lazy and dreamy, with a somewhat wafted far-away lilt.

"The chanty as sung by Mr.Rosher ran as follows (see Mus. Exam. 18).

"I find it hard to make up my mind as to how far such chanties are of British, American or Negro origin. Maybe various influences are blended in them. It will be seen that the tail-piece (starting bar 17) is a free addition of my own, as well as several twiddles."

"One more day, my John exists in two solo piano versions. [One] is an easy version made in 1932, whilst the second, more extended, version was made some seventeen years earlier. The latter version is in the form of a `Preliminary Cant er (short rambling prelude before starting off to play)'. At the head of the easy version Grainger points out that it is a Sea-Chanty 'sung, at sea, one day before making the home port.... Such a ditty is a late survival of "music of superstitition" that is: music employed as a spell to propitiate the hostile, malign or insuperable forces of nature--oceans, rivers, storms and the like.'"--John Pickard (Piano 3).

PARAPHRASE ON THE "WALTZ OF THE FLOWERS" (Tchaikovsky/Grainger) (1916)--piano solo

"This an exciting, flamboyant, extroverted arrangement of a perennial favorite. It suggests that Grainger was thinking of some exotic Australian flowers!"--Selma Epstein (Epstein 1).

"Although Grainger made Duo-Art piano rolls of six movements from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite in 1919 they do not appear to have survived in notated form. The earlier Paraphrase... is notable for being the first published co mposition in which Grainger incorporated directions in his own idiosyncratic English. Hence, the appearance of such indications as 'slacken slightly', 'soften bit by bit', 'louden lots'. Ironically, the paraphrase is dedicated to a Frenchman, Léon Delafosse, the pianist and composer who subsequently performed it in his native country. The element of original composition in this transcription is considerable--within the frame-work of Tchaikov-sky's familiar waltz Grainger incorporates several of his own , highly virtuosic, cadenza-like passages."--John Pickard (Piano 2).


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