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



PIANO CONCERTO--Movement 1 (Grieg); PIANO CONCERTO 2: Movement 3 (Rachmaninoff); PIANO CONCERTO--Movement 1 (Schumann); PIANO CONCERTO 1 IN B FLAT MINOR--Opening (Tchaikovsky) (1940s)--piano solo

"[Although these arrangements] abridge the originals they certainly make no attempt to alleviate their technical difficulties. The Schumann transcription is the most substantial of the four, with a playing time of around eight and a half min utes. It also manages to preserve a sense of the shape of the original--something which the Grieg transcription certainly does not. In many ways, the Grieg is the least satisfying of these concerto arrangements. It consists of the whole of the expositi on which is then brutally cut-off at what would have been the orchestra's climactic re-entry, whereupon we are abruptly transported to the movement's final couple of minutes. [See also the "big" closing scene of the Broadway musical Song of Norway, wherein Grieg's famous piano concerto is abridged to nearly show-tune length. The process is taken one step further by Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto, composed for the wartime film Suicide Squadron, which is both an abridgement (with respect to form and technique--i.e. it is a "mini-concerto" lasting less than ten minutes) and an original composition! (Ed.)] It is perhaps a matter for regret that Grainger, considered in his day to be the supreme interpreter of this concerto, did not attempt a more thorough transcription of a work he loved so much."--John Pickard (Piano 4).

"Perhaps the oddest of [Grainger's solo piano] paraphrases (or in this case 'Concert Transcriptions') are the versions Grainger made of parts of Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto (first movement) and Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto (third movement)(there also exists one of the first movement of the Grieg concerto and also of the Schumann). The transcriptions were made during the first half of the 1940s, in the middle of hectic concert tours. The Tchaikovsky transcription is listed as No. 8 of Grainger's 'Free Settings of Favorite Melodies' and consists of the three stat ements of the opening melody as they appear at the start of the concert (Orchestra, Soloist, Soloist and Orchestra).

"As if to complement this, the Rakhmaninov transcription is concerned with the final minutes of the concerto. Most pianists will be aware of the execrable 'condensed and simplified' versions of the great concertos which can be purchased in most music shops. The Grainger transcriptions are a different matter. For a start they are far from simple--retaining all the demands of the original solo part with the addition of some orchetral elements--but, more importantly, they are carefully constructed and manage to avoid apeparing to be 'bleeding chunks' ripped from their context. In fact, once the shock of hearing one's Tchaikovsky or Rakhmaninov condensed to five minutes has worn off, they can be appreciated as highly ingenious piano '‚tudes' in thei r own right."--John Pickard (Piano 2).



Version for orchestra

"In 1943 Grainger produced a work of gigantic proportions involving large wind band, organ, keyboard, tuneful percussion and optional string orchestra. The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart was sketched as early as 1918 and was directly ins pired by the thought of young men being sent against their will to their deaths in the Great War. This was linked with his fundamental belief that Nordic elements should stave off the oppressive artistic forces from Southern Europe. It is a complex score which shows his superb use of all sections of the very large forces. The wind section includes separate six part choirs for clarinets and saxophones. The brass section is enlarged by a baritone, euphonium and extra tubas. The tuneful percussion and piano have some free sections and at the close of the work Grainger quotes the second theme from 'The Power of Love' from the Danish Suite. Whilst it would be difficult to claim this as one of the most important of his original compositions, it is a sign ificant work particularly since it shows his enormous ability in handling very large forces."--John Hopkins (Orchestral 5).

"Though he was accustomed to calling for large ensembles in his music, Grainger outdid himself in his final orginal work for band, scoring for 'full military band' plus pipe or electric organ and optional string orchestra. In addition, there are important parts for harps, pianos, and 'tuneful percussion', and while these instruments are marked 'at will' (optional) in the score, the composer indicated in a note: 'The more the better.' Commissioned in 1948 by the League of Composers for Edwin Franko Goldman's 70th birthday, the work is strikingly theatrical and individual. Grainger harbored deep feelings against what he termed 'the Roman Empire conception of life (a privileged few catered to by a host of slaves),' which he felt had spread 'fro m Rome to France, from France to England, and from England to America.' He saw himself on the side of the Nordic races, oppressed by an alien and hostile culture. These ideas are reflected in his footnote to the title of the piece: 'The unfoldment of musi cal feelings started by thoughts of the agony of Individual Souls in conflict with The-Powers-That-Be--as when the Early Christians found themselves at strife with the Power of Ancient Rome.'<|>"--Frank Hudson.

Version for band

"Difficulty: advanced.

"Grainger arranged this work for organ and band (from the original version for organ and orchestra) as a result of a commission by the League of Composers. It remains one of his most controversial achievements. Grainger himself had conflicting feeling s about it, finding some passages quite eloquent and moving and others banal and commonplace. The opening passages are remarkable in their use of dissonant chromatic harmony, while the ending is a re-casting of the beautiful closing section of The Power of Love. The middle sections are less interesting, both in the musical ideas themselves and their treatment."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).


Chosen Gems for Winds

"This transcription [of Antonio de Cabezon's 16th-century composition] is one of a series which Grainger entitled 'Chosen Gems for Winds', the idea for which originated with his teaching at Interlochen Music Camp [in Michigan] from 1937-44. The work itself, originally for organ, is a beautiful synthesis of the contrapuntal texture and gracefully ornamented melody characteristic of late Renaissance music. Grainger's ingenious 'elastic scoring' (making it possible to perform with almost any co mbination of winds) provides an especially worthy medium for Cabezon's magnificant work."--Joseph Kreines (Unknown).

Notes from published score: "Antonio de Cabezon (Spanish 1510-1566) was one of the 16th Century's greatest keyboard performers and composers. Blind from infancy, born of noble parents, he became composer and organist to the court of Charles and Isabella. He later served Philip II, with whom he travelled throughout Europe.

"De Cabezon's music is richly polyphonic. Although he composed primarily for keyboard instruments, his music also possesses a haunting vocal quality. His tientos, such as the Prelude in the Dorian Mode, are instrumental fantasies built u pon the opening motive. These compositions make masterful use of fugal counterpoint, creating tensions between the motive and imitative secondary lines. The Dorian mode is a scale beginning on the second tone. In this Prelude in the Dorian Mode, th e opening motive repeats at irregular intervals thorughout the main body of the work, forming a basis for the four-part polyphony which evolves around it.

"When Grainger's band setting was created, Leopold Stokowski's orchestral Bach transcriptions were much in vogue. Unlike Stokowski's gleaming, modern sounding Bach, Grainger skillfully recalls the darker historical quality of the tiento and its vocal counterpart, the motet. The music is de Cabezon, the expressive concept and colors are entirely Grainger's. His modern wind-band setting is beautifully evocative of de Cabezon's Renaissance world.

"CONDUCTOR'S NOTE. Conductors and performers are encouraged to explore the rich combination of de Cabezon's polyphony and Grainger's expressive interpretive dynamics. This intense music encourages ensemble playing of the highest order. Grainger 's markings are brilliantly conceived for each polyphonic tone strand. In rehearsal the simple technique of repetition will allow the ensemble to listen, and then to weave and blend the interplay of their voices. The Prelude in the Dorian Mode provides one of the band repertoire's great opportunities to achieve a genuinely vocally oriented chamber-music style.

"At the coda (measure 121) the rising and falling overlapping lines challenge performers to fully sing the highest note, then immediately reduce volume and weight of tone, allowing the next voice to project easily. From measure 126 to the end, the con ductor must preside over simultaneous rallentando and diminuendo. While the rising and falling motive continues, the larger diminuendo applies to the overall volume level. In the final six bars, the long rallentando becomes rallentando molto. The next to last bar may be conducted in eight.

"PERFORMANCE OPTIONS. Percy Grainger's wind-band setting of the Prelude in the Dorian Mode was created from 1937-1941. Later, a saxophone choir version was written at Interlochen in 1943. Finally in 1952-1953, Grainger made a few minor r evisions in the band arrangement. This first published score combines all of these sources. Although the Prelude in the Dorian Mode does not use Grainger's 'elastic scoring', it is cued for performance by full wind-band, saxophone quartet (soprano/ alto, tenor, baritone), woodwind choir, brass quartet (cornet, horn, baritone, tuba), or brass band. The first four lines of the full score may be read as a condensed score in 'C'."--Keith Brion.


[Edition for high voice & piano published by G. Schirmer, 1921. (Ed.)]

British Folk-Music Settings Nr. 27

Grainger: "As sung by Mr. George Leaning (of Barton-on-Humber, North-East Lincolnshire) on August 3-4, 1906, at Brigg, N.-E. Lincolnshire, England. Set Sept. 14, 1920, New York City. Yule-gift to mother, Yule, 1920.

"[Headnote:] Slowly flowing."

"The Pretty Maid Milkin' Her Cow was noted by ear in Boston, 3.8.06, from George Leaning, and phonographed twice from the same singer the next day. Although of Lincolnshire origin, it is thought to have been taken there in some form by Irish itinerant labour. In his collection of folksong notations Grainger suggests comparison with another Irish tune, Colleen Dhas [see entry page 140, above], which he found in Grove's Dictionary of Music and set for room-music in 1904.<1 70>--David Tall (Songs).


[Edition for voices and harmonium or organ ad lib. ("8 foot tone if accompanying Women's (or Children's) voices; 16 foot tone if accompanying Men's voices; 8 & 16 foot tone if accompanying Mixed voices"), published by G. Schirmer, 1950. (Ed.)]

Grainger: "Date: Late 13th cent. Original MS: Worcester Add. 68, xiii ff. Published in Worcester Mediæval Harmony by Dom Anselm Hughes (The Plainsong & Mediæval Music Society). Here presented one minor third lower than original key.

"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 Latin original by Dom Anselm Hughes, O.S.B.

"Possible combinations of voices, etc.

for 3 single Women's (or Children's) Voices or 3-part Women's (or Children's) Chorus (S, M-S, A),

or for 3 single Men's Voices or 3-part Men's Chorus (T, Bar, Bs),

or for 6 single Mixed Voices or 6-part Mixed Chorus (S, M-S, A, T, Bar, Bs)

"Any of the above combinations of voices may be accompanied by Strings, or by Winds, or by Combined Strings and Winds. Brass, or other instruments, may reinforce Tone-strand [i.e. stave or part] C, without Tone-strands A & B being instrumentally reinf orced. (See Full Score for all Instruments.) The syllables 'Ah' and 'La' have been added to Tone-strand C by the editors. Words enclosed in square brackets have been added to Tone-strands A & B by Dom Anselm Hughes, to suggest words at places where the or iginal gives no text, unless it is desired to follow the method (which is probably more accurate from the historical point of view) of vocalising on the sound of the previous vowel. This should not be humming with closed lips, for the volume of tone is th ereby reduced and the balance spoilt; but a full tone on the open vowel. The voices may be silent here, when instruments are playing. "[Headnote:] Fast, lively, exultant."

THE RAG-TIME GIRL (c.1901)--piano solo

"The Rag-Time Girl is a product of Grainger's interest in Black American music. This miniature was discovered by [composer-pianist] Ronald Stevenson at the Grainger House, White Plains during 1976. It dates from 1901."--John Pickard (Piano 2).

RAMBLE ON LOVE (Richard Strauss) (before 1920, 1926/27)--piano solo

"[Grainger's] reaction to the music of Richard Strauss was more positive [than negative]. He praised it for its vulgarity ('Strauss is a greater, grander genius that Maurice Ravel because he [Strauss] has so amply the vulgarity that Ravel la cks'). The sumptuousness of Strauss's musical language is amply reflected in Grainger's Ramble on the last love-duet in the opera 'The Rose-Bearer' [Der Rosenkavalier]--the most elaborately wrought of all his piano transcriptions. Of this work, the composer, pianist, and Grainger expert Ronald Stevenson has written: 'It is the most fastidiously notated piano writing in the whole virtuoso literature... If the performer follows all the instructions faithfully--fingering, dynamics, phrasing, pedalling--he will not need to seek for an interpretation. The interpretation in this case is the notation.'<|>"--John Pickard (Piano 2).

RANDOM ROUND (c.1912-1915)

"From his early youth [Grainger] was sketching ideas for multistrand polyphony and one can find links between several of the works written in the first two decades of the century and the experiments which occupied his thoughts and energies in the fifties. Those sections of The Warriors which, because of the many rhythmic complexities, need two and three conductors could be compared with Grainger's extension of the normal use of player piano rolls to produce music of greater rhythmic c omplexity than one pianist could possibly perform. His Random Round 'tone wrought around 1912-1915 in Holland and tried out in England not very hopefulfillingly soon after' [Note on Ms. score of Random Round in composer's hand.] is another example of his efforts to break the strict rhythmical bonds of Western European music. Lack of knowledge and skill of improvisation and aleatoric music so hampered early performances of this work that Grainger ultimately felt the need to write it down in more conventional terms, though this obviously placed the work in shackles and removed the very freedom he wanted to achieve.

"Writing in 1915 Grainger said:

[The work] arose out of the possibility of modern musicians being capable of combining the communal improvisation of South Sea Islanders with the harmonic consciousness of our written art-music. Realizing this, I set out to embody some of the e xperience I had gleaned from familiarity with the primitive polyphony of the Rarotongan part songs in a composition entitled Random Round which was planned for a few voices, guitars, and mandolins to which could be added (if available) mandola, pia no, xylophone, celesta, glockenspiel, resonaphone or marimbaphone strings, and wind instruments. It consisted of sections (A, B, C, etc.), each of which was again divided into as many as 10 to 20 variants (A, A2, etc.), some quiet, some noisy, some simple , some complex; each bar of some variant being composed in such a manner that it would form some sort of a harmonic whole when performed together without any bar or any or all of the other variants of the same section.

The guitars formed the background for all the rest, and as soon as they got going with section A, any or all of the other players and singers could fall in, when and how they pleased, with any of their variants of section A, provided their beat s corresponded to those of the guitars. For instance, one voice might be heard singing the second measure of its A3 while another voice was engaged on the seventh measure of its A9. Before section B was to begin, a Javanese gong would be beaten, whereupon the same sort of canonical intermingling of the different variants of B would be undertaken that had just occurred with the A variants; and so on with C, D, etc. to the end.

It will be seen that a fairly large range of personal choice was allowed to everyone taking part, and the effectiveness of the whole thing would depend primarily on the natural sense for contrasts of form, color and dynamics displayed by the va rious performers, and their judgment in entering and leaving the general ensemble at suitable moments.

Thus one player, by intruding carelessly and noisily at a moment when all the rest were playing softly, would wreck that particular effect, though, on the other hand, such an act, if undertaken intentionally in order to provide dynamic variety, might be very welcome. Last summer in London some fifteen of us experimented with the Random Round and the results obtained were very instructive to me personally. Several of those taking part quickly developed the power of merging themselves into the artistic whole, and whereas at the outset the monotonous babel produced somewhat 'resembled a Dog's Home, Battersea' (as a leading critic once described Albenez's marvellous and touching piece Jerez when I introduced it to London audiences some years ago), after a little practice together the whole thing took on form, color and clarity and sounded harmonious enough, though a frequent swash of passing discords was noticeable also. I look forward to some day presenting to English and American au diences a performance of this blend of harmonic tendencies with experiences drawn from the improvised polyphony of primitive music, although of course my piece represents only the veriest beginnings of what may ultimately be evolved in the realms of concerted improvisation. [Percy Grainger, 'The Impress of Personality in Unwritten Music', The Musical Quarterly, I/3 (1915).]"--John Hopkins (Australian)/Margaret Hee-Leng Tan.

"Random Round, which Grainger describes as 'an experiment in concerted partial improvisation', is an unusual essay with strong aleatoric elements. It was conceived in 1912, when the established composers of chance music today (Cage, Boulez, Stockhausen) were not yet born."--Margaret Hee-Leng Tan.

THE RIVAL BROTHERS (1932)--piano solo

"The Rival Brothers is not a folksong [but] is based on sketches Grainger made in 1905 for a choral setting of a Faeroe Island folk-poem concerning two brothers who kill each other whilst fighting over the same girl. The setting was ' dished-up' for piano in 1932 for [his collection] The Easy Grainger."--John Pickard (Piano 3).


SAILOR'S SONG--piano solo

[Version edited by Don C. Gillespie published by Henmar Press / C. F. Peters Corp., 1982. (Ed.)]

"Sailor's Song is neither a song nor is it particularly nautical, but is a 1954 piano version of a work he conceived in San Remo [on the Italian coast approaching the border, enroute from Genoa to Monaco and Nice], for 'tuneful percussion'."--John Bird (Adni).

EDITOR'S NOTE: "According to his manuscript, Percy Grainger 'worked up' Sailor's Song November 10-13, 1954, in White Plains, New York, from sketches for a 'Bell Piece' of that title composed in 1900 in San Remo. Notated on two staves by Grainger and containing few expressive indications, the piece was composed for 'bells or other tuneful percussion', but may also be played on the piano. (A simplified version, made by Grainger, is also available from the publisher.) All that has survived from the original sketches is a single page, dated February 16, 1900, and containing a scoring for full orchestra of measures 9-18 of the present edition. Both this sketch and the 1954 manuscript are now located in the Music Collection of the Gr ainger Museum at the University of Melbourne. The first publication of Sailor's Song is made possible through the cooperation of the International Percy Grainger Society, located in the late composer's home at 7 Cromwell Place in White Plains." --Don C. Gillespie.

SANCTUS (Lyonel Power)--chorus

[Edition for three voices and harmonium or organ ad lib. published by G. Schirmer, 1950. (Ed.)]

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

Grainger: "Date: c.1437. Original MS: Old Hall Manuscript. Transcribed from the Old Hall Manuscript by Alexander Ramsbotham (here taken from the Plainsong & Mediæval Society edition by A. Ramsbotham, H. B. Collins & Dom Anselm Hughes, O.S.B.). Edited for practical music-making by Percy Aldridge Grainger.

For 3 single Mixed Voices or 3-part Mixed Chorus (A, T, Bs.)

or for 3 single Men's Voices or 3-part Men's Chorus (Male Alto or High Tenor, T, Bs.)

"Any of the above combinations of voices may be accompanied by Strings, or by Winds, or by Combined Strings and Winds. (See Full Score for all Instruments.)

"[Headnote:] Flowingly."




Version for 4 men's voices & orchestra

British Folk-Music Settings Nr. 28

Grainger: "For Room-Music 20-Some. Scotch Strathspey and Reel, inlaid with Several Irish and Scotch Tunes, and a Sea-Chanty, set for 4 men's voices and 16 instruments (4 woodwinds, baritone concertina [or harmonium], xylophone, 2 guitars [or piano] an d 8 strings). [1901-11. Orig. for band with strings, 1901-02. Edition for 4 male voices and piano (for practice only) publ. by Schott & Co. (UK), B. Schott's S”hne (Europe) and G. Schirmer (USA), 1924. (Ed.)]

"[PROGRAM-NOTES.] It is curious how many Celtic dance tunes there are that are so alike in their harmonic schemes (however diverse they may be rhythmicly and melodicly) that any number of them can be played together at the same time and mingle harmoniously. Occasionally a sea-chanty will fit in perfectly with such a group of Celtic tunes.

"If a room-full of Scotch and Irish fiddlers and pipers and any nationality of English-speaking chanty-singing deep-sea sailors could be spirited together and suddenly miraculously endowed with the gift for polyphonic improvisation enjoyed, for instan ce, by South Sea Island Polynesians what a strange merry friendly Babel of tune, harmony and rhythm might result! My setting of the strathspey mirrors the imagination of such a contingency, using 6 Scotch and Irish tunes and halves of tunes that go well w ith each other and a chanty that blends amiably with the lot. These 7 melodies are heard together in the second climax of the strathspey--bars 103-110.

"In the reel no such conglomeration of traditional tune-stuffs is undertaken, but the South Sea Island type of improvised harmonic polyphony is occasionally reflected, the reel tune occurs in augmentation on the hammer-wood (xylophone), and towards th e end of the work I have added a counter-tune of my own to the words of the sea-chanty.

"The underlying tune in the strathspey is Marquis of Huntley and in the reel The Reel of Tulloch (Thulichan), as given in the articles on 'Strathspey' and 'Reel' respectively in Grove's A Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Of the other tunes employed in the strathspey a Scotch tune was quoted to me by the painter Hugo Rumbold and the Irish tunes are Nr. 983 and Nr. 319 in The Complete Petrie Collection of Irish Music, edited by Charles Villiers Stanford (Boosey & Co.). The sea-chanty, entitled 'What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?', is a top-sail haulyards chanty from Mr. Charles Rosher's fine collection, and used by his kind permission. Its text is as follows:

1st man: What shall we do with a drunken sailor? (twice)
2nd man: Put 'im in the long-boat and let 'im lay there,
Early in the morning.
Chorus: Way oh! and up she rises, (thrice)
Early in the morning.

My setting was conceived and worked out in the years 1901-1911, was scored (on tour in Norway) during the fall of 1911, and the first performance took place on May 21st, 1912, at a concert of my room-music compositions at Aeolian Hall, London<19 7>my beloved mother playing one of the guitar parts."

"The Scotch Strathspey and Reel is a splendid example of what Grainger called 'democratic poly-phony' which he defined as 'my Australian ideal of a many-voiced texture in which all or most of the tune strands enjoy equal prominence an d importance.' In this work there are sections where as many as seven tunes are played simultaneously."--John Hopkins (Orchestral 1).

Version for piano solo (1939)

"The piano version was completed in 1939. A clue to its unusual shape lies in the subtitle: 'Inlaid with several Irish and Scotch tunes and a Sea-Chanty'. Grainger points out in his introduction to the solo piano version that 'In my original form of t his setting, for 22 performers, 6 Scotch and Irish tunes (and half-tunes) and the 'What shall we do with a drunken sailor' sea-chanty are heard together at one moment. But of course no such polyphonic congolomeration could be undertaken on the piano.'"--John Pickard (Piano 3).

Leroy Osmon arr. for band (1979)

[Edition published by TRN Music Publisher, 1982. Instrumentation: picc, 3 1st fl, 2 2nd fl, 1st ob, 1nd ob, E hn, 1st bsn, 2nd bsn, Eb cl, 3 1st Bb cl, 3 2nd Bb cl , 3 3rd Bb cl, 3 4th Bb cl (sub. for al. cl.), Eb cl, 3 Bb b cl, Eb cntrbs cl, 1st Eb a sax, 2nd Eb a sax, Bb t sax, Eb bar sax, 2 1st Bb cornet, 2 2nd Bb cornet, 2 3rd Bb cornet, 1st F hn, 2nd F hn, 3rd F hn, 4th F hn, 2 1st tbn, 2 2nd tbn, 2 3rd tbn, 2 bar t.c., 2 bar b.c., 6 tba, xyl, marim, timp, 2 snare drum/b drum. (Ed.)]

"Difficulty: advanced.

"This work is an ingenious and imaginative weaving-together of seven Scotch and Irish tunes and a sea-chanty. It begins with a strathspey (an energetic but stately dance from the Scottish highlands) and concludes with a brilliant and exci ting reel. Leroy Osmon's transcription is technically demanding for the woodwinds and requires careful attention to balance and dynamic contrasts."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).

THE SEA-WIFE--chorus

Kipling Settings Nr. 22

Grainger: "Yule-gift to Mother, Dec. 1905. Begun May 28, 1905. Ended Dec. 18, 1905. The words of this song are reprinted from 'The Seven Seas' by permission of Mrs. George Bambridge. For mixed chorus, accompanied by

(a) brass band (or the brass sections of the military band or symphony orchestra),

(b) or by 7 (or 8, or 9) single strings, or string orchestra,

(c) or by brass and strings (brass and string sections of the symphony orchestra),

(d) or by piano duet (2 pianists at one piano),

(e) or by piano 2-hands (one pianist at one piano).

"[Headnote:] Marching speed." [Edition for high/low women's voices, high and low men's voices, "bottom player" (e.g. piano) and optional "top player" publ. by Schott & Co., 1948. (Ed.)]


[Edition for voice (or voices) & piano published by G. Schirmer, 1927. (Ed.)]

Sea-Chanty Settings No. 3

"Sailor's sea-chanty, collected from the singing of John Perring (Dartmouth, England, Jan. 18. 1908) by H. E. Piggott and P. A. Grainger, and set for voice (or voices) and 13 (or more) instruments. Setting composed and scored, Aug.-Dec. 17, 1910. Scoring slightly revised 1923 and 1925.

"[Headnote:] Slowish, intense, wayward in time.

"The voice-part may be sung as follows:

(1) By 1 man's voice (singing both 'solo` and `chorus')

or (2) By 2 men's voices (1st voice sings 'solo', 2nd voice sings 'chorus')

or (3) By 1 woman's voice (singing 'solo') and 1 man's voice (singing 'chorus')

or (4) By 1 man's voice (singing 'solo') and a male unison chorus (singing 'chorus')

or (5) By a mixed unison chorus (women's voices singing 'solo', men's voices singing 'chorus').

"ORCHESTRATION. The minimum orchestration is as follows: Clarinet, bassoon, horn (or alto saxophone), euphonium (or 2nd horn, or 2nd alto saxophone), harmonium, piano and 7 strings (2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, bass).

"To the above mentioned 13 instruments may be added any or all of the following: Piccolo, flute, double-bassoon, 2 mandolins, 2 mandolas, 2 ukeleles, 4 guitars, more strings.

"PROGRAM-NOTE. John Perring (of Dartmouth, England), a remarkably gifted deep-sea sailor songster from whose singing H. E. Piggott and I collected the chanty in 1908, said that the song was supposed to be sung by a woman standing on the quay to Shallow Brown as his ship was weighing anchor. John Perring did not know why Brown was called 'Shallow'--'unless it was that he was shallow in his heart', as he added. My setting (composed in 1910) aims to convey a suggestion of wafted, wind-borne, su rging sounds heard at sea."

"In Shallow Brown, the third and last of Grainger's sea shanty settings, the piano plays a shimmering accompaniment as the unison chorus sings 'slowish, intense, wayward in time'. Playing this accompaniment used to give Grainger inten se emotional excitement!"--David Tall.

SHENANDOAH (Windlass Chanty)--arr. for chorus

Grainger: "Collected and sung by Mr. Charles Rosher, July 24th, 1906, London. Noted by Percy Grainger, July 24th, 1906, London.

"The 'Shenandoah' of this chanty refers to the American River of that name, although the actual meaning for 'Shenandoah' has become lost in later versions of this chanty. The tune appears to be of Negro origin.

"The tune given [as Mus. Exam. 19--next page] is taken from the Hectograph Collection of folk-songs collected by Grainger, of which it is No. 166. "For another variant of this tune entitled 'Shangadore', and for notes upon it see Journal of the Folk-Song Society, No. 9."


British Folk-Music Settings No. 4

Version for piano solo

Grainger (c. 1913): "English Morris Dance Tune set for piano using 4 variants, collected by Cecil J. Sharp. From the playing of the fiddler of the Bidford Morris Dancers (1906), J. Mason (Stow on the Wold), W. Hathaway (Cheltenham) and William Wells ( Bampton). Begun: 1908. Ended: December, 1913.

"Morris Dances are still danced by teams of 'Morris Men' decked out with bells and quaint ornaments to the music of the fiddle or 'the pipe and tabor' (a sort of drum and fife) in several agricultural districts in England. The tune of Shepherd's H ey (which is akin to the North English air 'Keel row') is very widely found throughout England. For variants of this and other English Morris Dance tunes see Cecil Sharp's Morris Dance Tunes (Novello & Co., Ltd., London). The word 'Hey' denotes a particular figure in Morris Dancing. For instructions in how to dance the Morris, and much other interesting information about this important but only recently investigated branch of folk-dancing, consult Cecil Sharp's The Morris Book (Novello & Co., Ltd., London).

"N.B. This setting is not suitable to dance Morris Dances to. All big stretches may be played broken (harped)."

"Grainger's Shepherd's Hey is a tricky, ingenious setting of an English Morris dance tune ['The Keel Row']. Percy adds stylistically authentic contrapuntal (he would have said 'many-stranded') lines derived from the melody itself. Per cy commented of such early pieces as Shepherd's Hey (1908-13) that 'where other composers would have been jolly setting such dance tunes I have been sad or furious. My dance settings are energetic rather than gay.' This perversely exaggerated state ment nevertheless defines their essential mood with great acuity."--Joseph Smith.

Versions for band or orchestra

"Shepherd's Hey is generally heard in either the full orchestra or military band version. Grainger said he 'dished it up' in many different ways. The version for a 'room-music twelve'some' dates from 1908-1909 and is scored for flute, clarinet, horn (at will), baritone English (chromatic) concertina, 3 fiddles, 2 middle fiddles (viola), 2 bass-fiddles ('celli) and 1 double-bass (contrabass)."--John Hopkins (Orchestral 2).

"Shepherd's Hey in the military band setting is the direct result of the months he spent as an enlisted musician in the U.S. Army during WWI, where, like Vaughan Williams in England, he became aware of the need for a quality music for military band."--Frederick Fennell (Cleveland).

"Shepherd's Hey was scored for wind band in 1918 and has emerged as an exemplary model in the art of wind orchestration. This composition probably best represents the influence Karl Klimsch (the German composer) had on the Grainger st yle of writing. Grainger related Klimsch's theory of composition as follows: 'If you have no theme or melody in your head, don't compose at all. If you have a theme or melody, start off with it right away and the moment your melodic inspiration runs out s top your piece. No prelude, no interlude, no postlude; just the pith of the music all the time.'<|>"--James Westbrook.

"Difficulty: advanced (band version).

"Another well-known little gem, requiring technical fluency and brilliance. The vivid and imaginative scoring and contrapuntal details of Grainger's treatment make this version the most interesting of all his settings of this tune."-- Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).

"Grainger's popularity as a composer has tended to revolve round a number of short extrovert scores, of which this is a typical example.... [Here] Grainger takes four variants of the tune that had been collected by Cecil Sharp [in 1906, from the playing of the fiddler of the Bidford Morris Dancers,] and sets them in his own inimitable style.

"Although Grainger has marked the score 'This setting is not suitable to dance Morris dances to' the word 'Hey' in the title in fact denotes a particular movement in morris dancing."--Lewis Foreman.

SIR EGLAMORE--chorus and orchestra

[Vocal-piano score (rev. edition) for "biggish chorus" (2 women's, 3 men's voices), "smallish chorus" (1 women's, 2 men's voices) & piano publ. by Schott & Co., 1912. (Ed.)]

British Folk-Music Settings No. 13

Grainger: "Set 1904 (ended 27.7.'04), scoring revised, 1912-13. Tune and words from Stafford Smith's Musica Antiqua. Freely set for double mixed chorus and orchestra (2 to 4 trumpets [2 clarinets may substitute for 3rd & 4th trumpets] , 4 horns, 3 to 5 trombones [euphonium may substitute for 3rd trombone, 2 bassoons may substitute for 4th and 5th trombones], tuba, kettledrums, side-drum, cymbals, violins I, violins II, violas, 'cellos, double-basses [5th & 6th horns, triangle, bass dru m, harp ad lib.])."


Version for soprano, alto, tenor and bass solos (or mixed chorus)

On April 11th 1905 Grainger heard his first folksongs "in the field" in Lincolnshire and took down his first notations, including [one of] his best-known, Brigg Fair [above]. Within a year he returned with a collection of choral folk-settin gs for the next Lincolnshire Festival, including Brigg Fair and Six Dukes Went a-Fishin'. Six Dukes was to feature in three different arrangements, described below. The first of these was soon published and became the inspiration for Delius's English Rhapsody of that name for full orchestra.

"Percy Grainger made (at least) three distinct settings of Six Dukes Went a-Fishin'. He noted five verses of the folksong by ear from George Gouldthorpe of Barrow on Humber, North Lincolnshire, on September 4th, 1905, before he first used the phonograph. He used this notation in a setting for voices, here published for the first time.[Edition by The Percy Grainger Society, David Tall, Chairman, 1980. Published in The Grainger [Society] Journal, February 1982, and reproduced below. (Ed.)] The harmonies of verses 1, 2, 5 are (very roughly speaking) an early version of those used in the same verses of the published song, verses 3 and 4 simply repeat the harmonies of verses 1 and 2. The setting was performed at the Brigg Festival on May 7th 1906. On the same day (possibly inspired by the performance) George Gouldthorpe remembered two more verses (which preceded the final verse of the given five) and these were noted by Lucy Broadwood. Later that year, Grainger returned to Brigg w ith a phonograph; on July 28th he obtained a complete recording from Mr. Gouldthorpe plus a partial performance and on August 4th he obtained a variant from Joseph Leaning.

"On November 26th 1906, Gervase Elwes performed a setting for voice and piano with the composer at the keyboard. This may have been a transcription of the earlier quartet version or a new setting; the whereabouts of the manuscript is at present [1982] unknown.

"In 1910 Grainger made a full setting of all seven verses for four voices (SATB) and flute. By this time the words are written entirely in Lincolnshire dialect (almost absent in the first version). It was performed at an All-Grainger concert at the Aeolian Hall on May 21st, 1912.

"In 1912 Grainger completed the final details of the setting for voice and piano which he published in two versions, high voice (original key) and low voice. By now he had blended minor alternatives from Joseph Leaning's performance into the melody ta ken from George Gouldthorpe and the manuscript shows the evidence of careful listening to the phonograph recordings to delineate fine details in the tune. This final version of the setting omits the two extra verses set in 1910, though the piano accompani ment includes the flute counterpoint to be found in the remaining verses.

"It is a matter of conjecture as to the precise timetable for the composition of the settings. The version for voice and piano is simply annotated 'begun 1905, ended 1912'. The missing setting sung by Elwes in 1906 could shed great light on the proble m. Did it set all seven verses? Does the piano part include extra counterpoint that gave rise to the flute part of 1910, or is the 1910 version a completely new version that gave rise to the 1912 version for voice and piano?

"What we have at present are three independent but interrelated settings, for SATB (ended 1906), for SATB and flute (ended 1910) and for voice and piano (ended 1912). Apart from the first version, published here, the second is available from the Grainger Society Archive [See Chapter 3, Locations of Scores, above. (Ed.)] and the third has been reprinted in the first Grainger Song Album published by Thames Publications [See also above. (Ed.)]

"This edition of the first version has been prepared and edited from manuscript parts in the British Library by David Tall, with the assistance of Barry Ould. All dynamics and instructions are editorial, made in the light of Grainger's later versions. As in Grainger's manuscript, the repeat differs in certain places; the notes for the second time are indicated with tails down.

"Grainger indicated only one word of dialect in this setting, giving an alternative spelling of 'body' as 'boe-dee' (which in the published version for voice and piano is to rhyme with 'gaudy'). In the original manuscript the words 'one said' are reversed in pencil to 'said one' in the lower three parts (but not in the soprano) and the word 'towers' of the last page is given as 'towels'. Grainger later learned that a 'tower' was a man on the tow-path of a canal, not a building, indicating not only a completely different meaning, but also a different pronunciation.

"The piano part (for rehearsal only) has been added by the editor."--David Tall (GSJ IV/2).

Joseph Kreines transcription for band, 1981

[Edition published by C. L. Barnhouse, 1988. (Ed.)]

"The text relates the story of six dukes on a fishing party who found the body of another duke (who had disappeared) floating in the sea. They removed it to London and buried him where he had been born. This transcription follows the setting for voice and piano which Grainger completed in 1912. The [piece] is one of Grainger's most exquisitely beautiful creations, with rich-textured harmonies and simple yet effective contrapuntal details that enhance one of the most magnificent of all folk-song melodies. The music is poignant, tender--yet full of pathos and deep feeling. It should be played in a simple, yet richly lyric manner."--Joseph Kreines (Two Grainger Melodies; Unknown).

THE SKYE BOAT SONG--chorus & piano (see also SONGS OF THE NORTH, below)

"Grainger's earliest 'folksong' arrangements were piano accompaniments for English Popular Songs in 1898, but his first mature works were from a book loaned by his friend Karl Klimsch, at the time of a walking holiday in Scotland. The Sk y Boat Song from this collection is equally at home sung as a solo or by unison choir. Its simple, spacious piano chords are the work of the true genius: the composer was eighteen years old. In the next five years he set several tunes from published so urces, including Irish Tune from County Derry [above], in its various guises for chorus, strings, or full orchestra, and There was a pig went out to dig for female voices."--David Tall.

THE SONG OF THE HIGH HILLS (Frederick Delius)--arr. for 2 pianos

"Frederick Delius (1862-1932) and Percy Grainger met in London in 1907. The middle-aged Delius presented the young composer-virtuoso with a copy of the score of his Appalachia with the request that he show the piece to Grieg. Grainger was already well-known as the protegé of the great Norwegian, and Delius had formed a deep attachment for Norway and its high hills. Scandinavian music and landscape were only two of the enthusiasms which the two men shared, and their friendship would la st until the end of Delius's life. His younger colleague, who considered him one of the three greatest composers (the other two being Bach and Duke Ellington) would continue to support his music tirelessly for another thirty years.

"Grainger's devotion to Delius and his music is epitomized in his championship of The Song of the High Hills. Delius's sketches for this work go back as far as 1887; he completed the work in 1911-12, but it was not performed until 1920. For the 1923 performances in Frankfort, Grainger rehearsed the chorus. His two-piano version of this vast orchestral conception was evidently made earlier that year as an aid in rehearsal, although the level of pianistic imagination and Grainger's careful preser vation of the coloristic aspects of the score belie such a work-a-day purpose. In 1924 Grainger introduced the work to American audiences. As a memorial to his mother, he conducted two performances for which he hired the orchestra himself; first in Bridge port, Connecticut on 28 April, and two days later in Carnegie Hall. In the same year he penned an open letter address 'To my fellow composers'; he urged more performances of the work which he called 'one of the few great works of all time.' Eric Fenby relates that he and Grainger played the two piano-version of The Song of the High Hills for Delius at Grez in June of 1929; Grainger's enthusiasm and support for this work were to continue long after the composer's death; in 1949 he referred to its 'flawlessnes in con-ception'."--Neely Bruce.

SONGS OF THE NORTH--piano solo

  1. Willie's Gane to Melville Castle
  2. Weaving Song
  3. Skye Boat Song [see footnote 144]
  4. This is no my Plaid
  5. Turn ye to me
  6. Drowned
  7. Fair Young Mary
  8. Leezie Lindsay
  9. The Women are a Gane Wud
  10. My Faithful Fond One
  11. Bonnie George Campbell
  12. O'er the Moor
  13. O gin I were where Gowrie rins
  14. Mo Nighean Dhu [See also separate entries as songs for mixed chorus, above. (Ed.)]

"In June 1900 Percy Grainger and his mother took a holiday in Scotland: their first visit. In his Remarks about his Hill-Song No. 1, [Published in A Musical Genius from Australia: Selected writings by and about Percy Grainger, compiled and with commentary by Teresa Balough, Music Monograph 4, University of Western Australia, Department of Music, 1982. [Also excerpted above, pages 167-174. (Ed.)] Grainger records his impressions of the 'soul-shaking hillscapes of Western Argyllshire.' Grainger's later surgeon (and also sculptor) the Norwegian-American Dr. Kaare K. Nygaard avers that Grainger described Scotland as his 'liberation' as an artist; meaning his response to the country's scenery. The holiday of 1900 was financed by Karl Klimsch of Frankfurt, Germany, an art-dealer and amateur composer and friend of Grainger's student years and his acknowledged mentor in composition. Grainger took with him to Scotland (borrowed from Klimsch) the two volumes of Songs of the North ( gathered together from the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland) edited by A.C. MacLeod and Harold Boulton/the music arranged by Malcolm Lawson/J.B. Cramer, London, n.d. but late 19th century. While in Scotland, under the impact of his first impressions of the country (and immediately afterward in London) he made 12 arrangementrs of Scottish folksongs for voice and piano and two for choir, using the melodies and texts from Songs of the North. His harmonization is both original and at one with the folk melodies, and makes the mediocrity of the Lawson arrangements fade in comparison.

"Much later, in White Plains, N.Y., on October 21, 1954, he selected three of the Scottish folksongs, and set them for piano solo [see below]. As will become apparent to the listener, the original settings also succeed admirable as solo piano works.

"These pieces span most of Grainger's life, from 18 to 72 years of age, and embody a 54-year distillation of his thoughts on these folksongs (a venerable maturity indeed, for even the purest malt whisky!--and this is some of the finest grain in Gra inger's harvest of folk music)."--Ronald Stevenson [SS].


[Edited by Ronald Stevenson, published by Henmar Press Inc. / C. F. Peters Corp., 1983. (Ed.)]

  1. Will ye gang to the Hielands, Leezie Lindsay?
  2. Mo Nighean Dubh
  3. O gin I were where Gadie rins (concert version)

    O gin I were where Gadie rins (simple version by Ronald Stevenson)

"Inspired by his first trip to Scotland, at 18 Grainger made vocal arrangements of some Scottish songs as a birthday present for his mother. As an old man he reset the present three for piano. He describes them on the manuscript as 'Remembe red (no doubt inaccurately) Oct. 21, 1954.' The extreme brevity and simplicity of the settings suggest that he made them more for his own satisfaction than for concert performance. The kinship with Grieg's Op. 66 is apparent in the textural purity of this group. There is no obvious 'pianism', only harmony and counterpoint selected with affectionate care."--Joseph Smith.

"1. Robert Burns contributed the first quatrain of 'Leezie Lindsay' to James Johnson's The Scots Musical Museum (Edinburgh, 1787-1803). A longer version of the verse-text appears in Robert Jamieson's Popular Ballads and Songs from Tradition (Edinburgh, 1806). The air is a Lowland variant of a Gaelic type of melody.

"2. The earliest printed source is Alexander Campbell's Albyn's Anthology, Vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1818), though the tune given by Campbell is different from that used by Grainger, which he took from Songs of the North. [See also Songs o f the North, below. (Ed.)]

"3. Ezra Pound believed that all 'folk' ballads were the creation of individual poets. Certainly, 'O gin I were where Gadie rins' was written by a traceable individual: John Imlah, an Aberdonian poet and one of the principal piano tuners to the London piano manufacturing firm of the Scottish-born John Broadwood (whose factory supplied Beethoven with a grand piano). Imlah's song was published in his Poems and Songs (London, 1841).

"The air is known as 'The Hessians' March'.

"Grainger's setting evokes a fife and drum band."--Ronald Stevenson [SS].


American Folk-Music Settings No. 1

Version for piano solo

Grainger : "American folk-dance, heard played by a fiddler at a country dance at Bradford, Illinois, in 1857, by Capt. Charles H. Robinson. Set for piano March 10, 1919, New York City, and Jan. 29-30, 1922, White Plain, N.Y. For Edgar Lee Masters, poet of pioneers.

"`The fiddle tune below [Mus. Exam. 21] was sent me by Capt. Charles H. Robinson in the summer of 1915, at my request, after he had written me in regard to Spoon River Anthology that he had heard the old fiddlers play this tune when he lived in Stark County, Illinois, in 1857.'--Edgar Lee Masters (February 11, 1922).

"[Around 1915, Captain Robinson sent his folk-tune] to Masters, who passed it on to Grainger, a personal friend. Percy dedicated his setting of this forceful, determined theme to Masters. Two years later still, in the opening poem of his seq uel, The New Spoon River, Masters imagines Robinson speaking from the grave, describing 'the tune "Spoon River", played by the nameless fiddler, heard by me as a youth in the evenings of fifty-seven' being transformed 'under the genius hand s of Percy Grainger'. Rather than adding original melodic material to the theme's mere sixteen bars, Percy's setting explores the many ways these bars can be harmonized. Percy asks that the percussive climaxes be played with 'fingers, wrist, and arm as st iff as possible'--no proponent of the 'relaxation method' he!"--Joseph Smith.

"This vigorous setting is marked to be played 'sturdily, not too fast, with "pioneer" persistency'."--John Pickard (Piano 3).

Version for orchestra

"'Spoon River' is 'elastically scored' and in his own programme note Grainger wrote: 'A Captain Charles H. Robinson heard a tune called 'Spoon River' played by a rustic fiddler at a country dance at Bradford Illinois (U.S.A.), in 1857. When Edgar L ee Masters' Spoon River Anthology appeared in 1914, Captain Robinson (then nearly 90 years old) was struck by the likeness of the two titles--that of the old tune and that of the poem-book--and he sent the 'Spoon River' tune to Masters, who p assed it on to me. The tune is very archaic in character; typically American, yet akin to certain Scottish and English dance-tune types. My setting (begun March 10, 1919; ended February 1, 1929), aims at preserving a pioneer blend of lonesome wistfulness and sturdy persistence. It bears the following dedication: 'For Edgar Lee Masters, poet of pioneers'."--John Bird (Rambles).

"For the scoring [of Spoon River] Grainger employ-ed the liberal use of what he colorfully describes as 'Tuneful Percussion' (bells, chimes, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, etc.)

"'I first came upon these fascinating instruments in profusion while on a concert tour in Holland in 1913 where I visited the Ethnomusicological Museum in Leyden. I was entranced by the percussion instruments of Indonesia, especially those that us ed the lower octaves. Hence my lavish use of these warm and mellow instruments in an endeavor to offset the harsher tones of those long-established citizens of the orchestra, the xylophone and glockenspiel.' Grainger pioneered their use, these 'tuneful percussions', not always receiving the credit that is his due."--Frederick Fennell (Country Gardens).

Glenn Cliffe Bainum arr. for wind band (1967)

"Difficulty: medium.

"An effective and delightful setting of an old American fiddle tune which has been idiomatically scored by Bainum. Technically not difficult, though it does require good articulation and rhythmic energy. A piano and several mallet instruments are needed."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).

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