Grainger plays piano

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AVAILABILITY OF SCORES AND PARTS

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE AVAILABILITY OF SCORES OR PARTS FOR A PARTICULAR PIECE BY PERCY GRAINGER, OR AN ARRANGEMENT FOR A PARTICULAR INSTRUMENT OR COMBINATION OF INSTRUMENTS, PLEASE VISIT "AVAILABILITY OF SCORES AND PARTS" BELOW. WE'RE ALWAYS WILLING TO HELP!

News of the International Percy Grainger Society

Grainger house

The Percy Grainger house, 7 Cromwell Place, White Plains, NY 10601 (photo by Pamela Tucker)


AUGUST, 2012: REPAIRS TO THE GRAINGER HOUSE ARE PROCEEDING AT A SWIFT PACE!

The International Percy Grainger Society is pleased to report that needed repair and restoration work on the Grainger House is at last being done. Our thanks go to two brothers, contractors specializing in restoring historic buildings, who are willing to do this work at a reasonable price. Already they have rebuilt/restored the kitchen stoop ($6,340) and reshingled the front porch. Below are shown "before and after" photos documenting the progress so far, as well as an estimate for future work. Much more, of course, remains to be done, on the roof, internal plumbing, etc.

We are seeking to raise funds toward completion of restoration work and for continued maintenance. Our current goal is approximately $20,000, of which the roof estimate is $11,500. Donations to the International Percy Grainger Society are tax deductible.

For information, contact Stewart Manville at 7 Cromwell Place, White Plains, NY 10601-5005, phone (914) 582-1237, or e-mail at stewartmanville@USA.com.

Renovation

Kitchen stoop before restoration.

Renovation

Kitchen stoop after restoration.

Renovation

Front porch with old shingles removed.

Renovation

Front porch with new shingles installed.

Renovation estimate

BREAKING NEWS: PERCY GRAINGER IS A CRATER ON MERCURY!

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA have approved the name "Grainger," named after Percy Grainger, for one of the craters on the planet Mercury. Other names approved include "Holst," "Ellington," and "Sousa." To see more about them, go to

  • http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/14960
  • http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/14957
  • http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/14963
  • http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/14973

Below is a picture showing Crater Grainger:

Crater Grainger on Mercury

Percy Grainger's crater on the planet Mercury.

HEAR A PERFORMANCE OF GRAINGER'S FREE MUSIC FOR THEREMIN

You can hear Thorwald Jørgensen, Marieke van der Heyden, Marcel Wierckx, and Jessica Hummel play Grainger's Free Music No.1 for Four Theremins on YouTube.

Click HERE to listen to the performance.



PICTURES FROM THE WHITE PLAINS GRAINGER CELEBRATION, FEBRUARY 20, 2011

We have a few pictures taken at the Celebration of the Life and Music of Percy Grainger, performed under the excellent direction of Vincent Lionti, violist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, held on February 20, 2011 at Grace Episcopal Church in White Plains. The group included two violins, one viola (Mr. Lionti), cello, and piano. We hope eventually to be able to bring you audio clips of some of the music that was played, which included an extraordinarily beautiful interpretation of Grainger's Free Music No. 1 as realized for strings.

Musicians at Grace
Vincent Lionti (on the right) and fellow musicians.
Stewart Manville
Stewart Manville of the International Percy Grainger Society reminiscing about Percy Grainger.
Cora Sowa
Dr. Cora Sowa of the International Percy Grainger society talking about Grainger's musical heritage.





WHAT DID PERCY GRAINGER SOUND LIKE?

PG conducts Poughkeepsie Symphony

A true original, he composed and performed as he lived, with abandon and creativity

Percy Grainger is known as much for his personal oddness as for his music, which itself encompassed much that was original and strange. In his house at 7 Cromwell Place in White Plains, New York, the visitor can experience evidence of his enthusiasms. He was a physical fitness devotee before it became fashionable to be one. He would walk between cities where he was to give piano performances, arriving at the last minute, and wheeled visitors' luggage from the White Plains railroad station to his house in a wheelbarrow. At the house, you can see the actual wooden wheelbarrow, as well as the exercise bar suspended between hallway and living room, and you can walk up the same front steps that he would hop up and down on one leg to strengthen his muscles! But the same characteristics that made Grainger eccentric in his personal life were responsible for his "out-of-the-box" thinking about music. He was one of the first to collect folk songs on several continents using the Edison cylinders. You can see an Edison machine like the one he used at the Grainger House, and an LP of some of the actual songs collected by him is available through the Grainger Society. He created an original body of work for concert band (a space previously occupied largely by Sousa), for which band leaders and teachers continue to be grateful. But Grainger considered his most important contribution to be his development of a series of Free Music Machines, which produced music inspired by natural sounds, with continuous pitch and without formal rhythm. The earliest of these were mechanical, the later were electronic, the forebears of today's synthesizers, as well as of today's microtonal music. A small model of one of these machines is at the Grainger House, while larger examples are in the Grainger Museum in Melbourne.

To the public of Grainger's day, however, he was known as a charismatic concert pianist, running down the aisle and leaping upon the stage to deliver a stirring performance. But how did he sound and look when he played? Tantalizingly, there seems to be only one publicly available video available of one short performance of his arrangement of the Irish folk tune "Maguire's Kick" on YouTube (see below). In contrast to the reverential and cautious performances his works often receive today (and in contrast to the static photographs and drawings of him), the video shows a wildly improvisational and athletic bout with the piano. In this regard we can contrast the performance by Grainger of "Country Gardens" with the prim rendition by Eugene List (both on the last selection listed below, audio only). We get a glimpse into Grainger's priorities in his 1945 essay, "English Pianism and Harold Bauer," where he described a recital by Eugene D'Albert:

D'Albert gave a piano recital soon after I got to Frankfurt, & I was enthralled by his slapdash English style... he played his own Piano Sonata with his feet & hands flying all over the place & wrong notes one or two to the dozen... When I saw D'Albert swash around over the piano with the wrong notes flying to the left & right & the whole thing a welter of recklessness, I said to myself, "That's the way I must play". I'm afraid I learnt his propensity for wrong notes all too thoroughly..."

Of course, it was only with a prodigious underlying technique that he could get away with taking such liberties!

So that you can hear (and in one case, see) what a Grainger performance was like, the list of Web addresses below encompasses all the selections that I have discovered on YouTube, including some recordings on the Aeolian Duo-Art piano rolls, for which Grainger recorded prolifically. If anyone knows of more, please let me know.

  1. Percy Grainger plays Bach Toccata & Fuga in D minor, Grainger's own arrangement (1931; audio only)
  2. Percy Grainger plays Irish Folk Song: "Maguire's Kick" (includes video of Grainger playing piano)
  3. Percy Grainger playing an extended version of "Maguire's Kick" recorded on a Duo-Art piano roll, 1916, audio only) Note: sometimes there is a problem accessing this file.
  4. Percy Grainger plays Bach Fantasy and Fugue in G minor, transcription by Franz Liszt (1931; audio only)
  5. Percy Grainger plays Tchaikovksy "Sugar plum fairy" (Duo-Art Reproducing Piano Roll #6798; audio only)
  6. Percy Grainger plays Grieg Peer Gynt "Morning Mood" (Peer Gynt Suite No.1, Op.46 No.1, Duo-Art Reproducing Piano Roll #A-57; audio only)
  7. Percy Grainger Plays "Sheep & Goat Walkin' to the Pasture" (Aeolian Duo Art roll #7083, recorded in 1927; includes video of a restored Steck Duo Art player piano built in 1920, as it performs the music)
  8. Cyril Scott and Percy Grainger play Scott's Symphonic Dance, arranged by Grainger for two pianos (recorded in 1922 on Duo-Art reproducing piano roll; includes video of performance by a ca. 1929 Chickering Duo-Art piano performing the music)
  9. Percy Grainger plays Lotus Land by Cyril Scott (in a 1929 Duo-Art reproducing piano roll recording; includes video of performance by a ca. 1929 Chickering Duo-Art piano)
  10. Percy Grainger plays "Country Gardens" (from a live performance, 1957; followed by Eugene List playing "Country Gardens" in 1961; audio only)

(- Cora Sowa)


Wheelbarrow
The famous wheelbarrow, on which Grainger wheeled his own and his guests' luggage to and from the White Plains train station. It now sits in the basement of the Grainger House.

GRAINGER HOUSE WELCOMES VISITORS, MAY, 2011,
AND A NEW GRAINGER STUDIES JOURNAL IS ANNOUNCED

On May 30, 2011 members of the Percy Grainger Society and friends met at the Grainger House to welcome Philip G. Kent, University Librarian of the University of Melbourne. Barry Ould from the Percy Grainger Society in the U.K. was also in attendance. Mr. Kent gave an illustrated talk on renovations and improvements to the newly reopened Percy Grainger Museum at the University of Melbourne. He also gave out hardcopies of the first issue of a new journal, Grainger Studies, An Interdisciplinary Journal, which is available online at www.msp.unimelb.edu.au/index.php/graingerstudies.

After the meeting, everyone went to the City Limits Diner in White Plains for an excellent lunch.

Board meeting at Grainger house
Some attendees at the Grainger House. Back row, left to right: Dana Perna, Barry Ould, Lucinda Hess, Eric Culver (Holy Cross College), Mark Grant, John Sowa, Philip Kent. Front row (seated): Rolf Stang, Stewart Manville.

Board adjourns to restaurant

After the meeting, participants adjourned to the restaurant. At the end of the meal, the waiter was kind enough to take our picture.




GRAINGER'S EXPERIMENTAL FREE MUSIC MACHINES ("TONE-TOOLS")


Free music machine model

Model of Free Music Machine at the Grainger House

Reproducing natural sounds

Percy Grainger considered his concept of "Free Music" (and the experimental machines to create it) to be "his only truly valuable and original contribution to music." (-Margaret Leng Tan, in Thomas P. Lewis, A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger).

Grainger's innovations, which seem avant-garde even today, included work with Hammond organs, piano rolls, electronic sound-producing mechanisms, and hand-built machines to create "free music" (i.e. unconstrained by traditional pitch or beat). His inspirations were the natural sounds of waves lapping aginast a boat, railroad trains, voices, even a squeaking door. These were early forms of music synthesizers. Although he developed, with physicist Burnet Cross, an electronic version of his Free Music machine, he was not interested in electronic music for its own sake, but only as a means to an end, of freeing music from what he considered the shackles of its traditional forms. Nor did he want a performance instrument for the concert hall, but a composing machine that would let him actually hear the sounds that he already heard in his head.

The full-scale Free Music machines can no longer be seen (or heard) at the Grainger House in White Plains, but a small (non-working) model of one of his machines, pictured above, can be seen by visitors to the Grainger House. The full-scale machines, which he called "Tone-Tools," now reside in the Grainger Museum in Melbourne.

Percy's work on his experimental machines, installed in his living room, can be seen in the archival photos reproduced below: (1) Percy's "Kangaroo Pouch" Free Music machine, set up in his living room, ca. 1950, (2) Burnett Cross and Percy working on the Free Music machine, 1951. (From Inez Bull, 7 Cromwell Place: A Loving Tribute to Percy Grainger.)


Free music machine: first picture Free music machine: second picture

The picture below of Percy and Ella working on one of his machines is reproduced from Thomas P. Lewis, A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger.


Free music machine with Ella

Grainger's Free Music Machine, described by Burnett Cross

The following description by Burnett Cross, of the electronic Free Music Machine developed by Grainger together with Cross, is taken from Thomas P. Lewis, A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger. The diagrams included below are those that illustrate the article. This description and other material about Grainger's variations on this idea, including a long essay by Margaret Leng Tan, is included in the "Program Notes" section of Lewis' book, which is reproduced on this Web site. Click HERE to go to the correct page (look for "Free Music").

_______________________________

"The free music machine had to be able to play any pitch within its range. It was to be free of the limitations of speaking in half tones, or quarter tones or eighth tones for that matter. Any pitch (or group of pitches within the range of the seven voices planned for the machine shown) was to be available to the composer.

"The machine had to be able to go from pitch to pitch by way of a controlled glide as well as by a leap. It was to be free of the limitations of the usual methods of progressing from pitch to pitch.

"The machine had to be able to perform complex irregular rhythms accurately, rhythms much too difficult for human beings to execute. It was to be free of the limitations of the human performer, of what Grainger called `the tyranny of the performer.' Of course dynamics were to be precisely controlled as well.

"The machine had to be workable by the composer. It was not to require a staff of resident engineers to translate the composer's language into the machine's language or to keep the machine in working order.

"This last requirement produced, I think, the most striking feature of the machine developed. Grainger had worked out a form of graph notation for Free Music for many years. The Free Music machine [we] developed `reads' this graph notation, with very little modification required. The pitch control graph and the volume control graph are painted in the appropriate bands on the five-foot wide roll of clear plastic (see Figure 1, preceding page). Black plastic ink is used. By sliding the portion just pain ted across the pitch and volume control slits, the musical result is heard at once, and any adjustments can be made at once. In fact if one paints on the plastic directly over the pitch control slit, one can hear the pitch being formed. Happily the plasti c ink used is water-soluble, so erasure is easy.

"As the pitch-control graph moves across the pitch control slit, it causes the amount of light entering the slit to vary. This light (from the spotlight above) is reflected from a curved mirror to the pitch control photocell (see Figure 2, above). The photocell controls the frequency produced by a transistor oscillator: more light raises the frequency, less light lowers it, and no light at all produces the bottom note of the oscillator range. Thus variations in pitch are obtained.

"The output of the oscillator is sent to a common type of flashlight bulb, one that has a tiny filament and a built-in lens. The bulb changes the pulsating current from the oscillator into a pulsating beam of light. This beam is directed upward throug h the volume control slit, to strike the volume control photocell. The volume control graph varies the amount of light reaching this photocell, which is connected to a preamplifier-amplifier-speaker circuit. Thus the strength of the oscillator output can be varied and control of dynamics achieved.

"Imposing on the pitch control slit a musical scale of whatever sort is desired can be done with the filter and tuning sticks. How these are mounted above the slits, on the tuning bridge, is shown in Figure 3 (above). The tuning bridge rests on the me tal guide-rails that steer the flow of the plastic sheet from roller to roller. A close-up of a filter and tuning sticks is shown in Figure 4 (next page). By sliding pieces of exposed photographic film of different densities into the filter holder, the am ount of light reaching the pitch control slit can be crudely controlled and the range placement of the oscillator roughly established, for that particular voice. Then by moving tuning sticks in or out the effective width of the slit can be varied. Thus ha lf-tone reference points (for example) of the scale can be distributed evenly along the length of the pitch control slit. The narrower the tuning sticks, or in other words the more of them there are along the slit, the finer the adjustment can be. Thanks to transistors in the oscillator and other circuits, the scale imposed is stable enough. Trying to achieve stability with a vacuum tube circuit was a maddening and unsuccessful task. The vacuum tube model turned out to be a very sensitive device for detec ting changes in the characteristics of vacuum tubes by means of changes in a musical scale.

"Since the spotlights are running on AC it might be expected that an AC hum would be the principal musical output of the arrangement, but it turns out that this is not so. Apparently the filament of the spotlight is too massive to transmit 60 cycles p er second. The power supply for the flashlight bulb, however, has to be pretty smooth DC.

"The mirror is made of a strip of copper bent by hand to the desired shape (which was easier than working out the geometry of the thing) and then chrome plated. A sharp focus on the pitch control photocell is not necessary. Both photo-cells were shiel ded with lightproof black cardboard from stray light. The transistor oscillator circuit produces a reedy and not unpleasant quality: a wide range of tone colors could be produced by manipulating the electronics of the oscillator, but Grainger was not at a ll interested in this at this stage. Command of pitch, duration and intensity were what he wanted, and quality was unimportant.

"The feeder and eater rollers, as Grainger called them, are mounted on skate wheels, which allow a roller to move from side to side to compensate for irregularities in the plastic sheeting. Since the plastic sheet is constrained by the guide rails so that its position relative to the slits will not change, it must be allowed freedom at both ends of its path. An electric motor can be arranged to turn the eater roller by means of a belt, but turning the roller by hand is easy and safe."


Free music machine diagram

Free music machine diagram

Free music machine diagram

Free music machine diagram




AVAILABILITY OF SCORES AND PARTS

Lyre

Many readers of this Web site have asked about the availability of a particular score for a particular combination of instruments for a particular one of Grainger's compositions or arrangements. We have always endeavored to answer your questions about all aspects of Grainger's life and career as fully as possible, and continue to welcome your correspondence. While we are delighted by the interest shown in bringing Grainger's music to life in performance, to avoid duplication of resources, we are now referring all requests for information about scores and parts to our sister organization, the Percy Grainger Society (U.K.), where music publisher Barry Ould (Bardic Edition Music Publications) has a fantastic collection of scores, parts, recordings, and information about their whereabouts. Bardic Edition is currently in the process of bringing into print most of Graingerís hitherto unpublished music, in association with the Grainger Society and Estate.

The Web site for Bardic Editions is http://bardic-music.com.

The Web site for the (U.K.) Percy Grainger Society is www.percygrainger.org.uk.

Barry Ould can be reached by e-mail at info@percygrainger.org.uk or at bipo@post.com.


RECOMMENDED READING ABOUT PERCY GRAINGER

Bibliography heading

We are often asked to recommend books for further reading about the life and music of Percy Grainger. Here are the most highly recommended books that are in print:

  • John Bird, Percy Grainger, Oxford University Press, 1999 (first published 1976).

  • Malcolm Gillies and David Pear, Portrait of Percy Grainger, Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2002 (Eastman Studies in Music, Eastman School of Music).

  • Robert Simon, Percy Grainger, The Pictorial Biography, Grafton, OH: Ludwig Music Publishing Company, 1983.

  • Penelope Thwaites, The New Percy Grainger Companion, Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press, 2010.

Thomas P. Lewis' Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger (1991), a compendium of catalogs to Grainger's works and various essays and reminiscences, is out of print (and the catalogs are likely to be out of date), but two of the most useful chapters, "Biographical/Artistic Vignettes" and "Program Notes," are available online on this Web site. Click here to read them.

Mike Miceli has completed a Master's thesis at Western Connecticut State University entitled "Percy Grainger and his Lincolnshire Posy." Some of his research was done at the Grainger House at 7 Cromwell Place in White Plains.

If any of our readers know of other useful books on Percy's life and work, let us know. Happy reading.


(Past) News, books, and other announcements

Archived news that previously appeared on this home page, can be found on the Past News and Announcements page.



A COLLECTION OF FALL PHOTOS FROM THE GRAINGER HOUSE

Below are some new pictures from in and around the Grainger House, taken in October, 2009 by John Sowa.

Grainger house

The front of the house on a beautiful autumn day. Some members of the Grainger Society can be seen talking at the foot of the steps (just behind the telephone pole). Dana Perna is on the left. Notice the historic marker above and to the left of Dana's head.

Grainger side yard

A view of the side yard, looking back from the front porch. Some of these trees were planted by Percy

Grainger music room

The Music Room, showing the upright piano.

Stewart plays piano

Stewart Manville playing Percy's grand piano in the Music Room.

Edison cylinder

An Edison cylinder machine of the kind used by Percy to collect folk songs.

Edison cylinder

Another view of the Edison machine, showing its mechanism.

Third floor window

A view of the side yard from the third floor. These cozy attic rooms would have been the servants' quarters in the early days of the house, before the Graingers bought it.

Wall sconce

The antique fixtures in the house are exemplified by this wall sconce. It is dual-purpose, and can be used as either a gas lamp or an electric lamp.

Bathroom window

In this grand mansion, even the bathroom has a stained glass window!

Shower head

More antique fixtures: a very old shower head in the bathroom!


STILL AVAILABLE!

ATTENTION VINYL COLLECTORS, EDISON CYLINDER ENTHUSIASTS, AND FANS OF ROOTS MUSIC!

We have received a number of inquiries about the old Edison cylinders that Percy Grainger used to record the voices of singers, whose folk songs Grainger later wove into works like "Lincolnshire Posy" and many other settings. Many of them are now in the Library of Congress. Our correspondents have asked whether these performances are available in any modern form.

We have a supply of LP records, made in 1972, of a selection of English songs recorded by Grainger in Lincolnshire in 1908, sung by Joseph Taylor and other singers. These are amazingly fine recordings, remastered from cylinders and from early discs. The liner notes are in the form of an extensive booklet, with commentary and the complete words to the songs. The price is $35, including shipping and handling, within the U.S (for mailing costs outside the U.S., please ask us.) Check or money order should be made out to the International Percy Grainger Society and sent to 7 Cromwell Place, White Plains, NY 10601.

You can order a record by writing to Mr. Stewart Manville at the above address. If you contact us by e-mail, please give us your complete mailing address (and, if you wish, a phone number where you can be contacted).

The songs on the record are as follows (some songs appear more than once, sung by different singers or in different recordings):

A side:

  1. Sprig o' thyme
  2. Died for love
  3. Brigg Fair
  4. The white hare
  5. Lord Bateman
  6. Rufford Park poachers
  7. The gypsy's wedding day
  8. Worcester City
  9. Creeping Jane
  10. Murder of Maria Martin
  11. Sprig o'thyme

B side:

  1. Bold William Taylor
  2. Lord Bateman
  3. Green bushes
  4. The Sheffield apprentice
  5. Horkstow Grange
  6. Landlord and tenant
  7. Bold Nevison
  8. Lord Melbourne
  9. Bold Robin Hood
  10. T'owd yowe wi' one horn

The cover of the record:

Unto Brigg Fair cover

A picture of the singers (with Percy Grainger, center of back row):

The Brigg Fair singers

AWARDING OF THE GRAINGER MEDALLION

Percy Grainger was adept in many aspects of music, as a performer, as a collector of folk songs, and as an inventor of music-making machines. To band leaders, teachers, and musicians, however, he is known, in his compositions and arrangements for wind ensembles, as an originator of the concert band, In his hands, the band, which was largely confined to marches in the manner of Sousa, became an instrument for serious concert music.

Each year, the International Percy Grainger Society awards the Grainger Medallion to one or more recipients who have made a contribution to band music, especially in the state of Texas. Grainger spent a great deal of time in the last decade of his life working with college, high school, and other bands in Texas, including Baylor and in the Austin area. He also conducted the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra.

The Grainger Medallion was made possible by a generous grant from music store owner Billy Everett (H&H Music of Houston). The design of the Medallion was by Dr. Cay Smith Osmon and the casting took place in Houston, Texas in a one-time production of only 50 medallions. So far, more than 30 have been awarded. It is the wish of Mr. Everett that, when possible, the Medallion be awarded in Texas, to Texas band directors. One Medallion is given out each year at the Texas Bandmasters Association state convention or at the Texas Music Educators Association state convention. (In some years, more than one has been awarded.) Others can be awarded by the International Percy Grainger Society.

The first year the Medallion was awarded to the following:

Frederic Fennell
John Bird (England)
John Hopkins (Australia)

Frederic Fennell was the legendary conductor who introduced many of Grainger's works. John Bird is Grainger's biographer. Conductor John Hopkins also recorded works of Grainger.

Texas recipients have included:

Eddie Green* (Univ. of Houston, ret.) - 1994
Richard Kole* (Del Mar College, ret.) - 1995
Harry Begian* (Univ. of Illinois, ret.) - 1996
Mark Rogers* (SMC) - 1997
Peter Warshaw* - 1998
Col. John Bourgeois, USMC (awarded at TMEA) - 1998
James Keene* (Univ. of Illinois) - 1999
Maurice McAdow - 2000
Sir Geoffrey Brand* (London, England) - 2002
Chal Ragsdale* (Univ. of Arkansas) - 2003
Tom Bennett* (Univ. of Houston) - 2003
Mark Morette* (Mark custom recordings, NY) - 2004
Jerry Junkin* (Dallas Wind Symphony/Univ. of Texas, Austin) - 2005
Paula Crider (Univ. of Texas, ret.) - 2006
Eugene Corporon (Univ. of North Texas) - 2007

* presented at the TBA.

Other recipients of the Medalllion have included the following:

Penelope Thwaites (England), who has made many recordings of Grainger's piano music, and has organized Grainger concerts and festivals (1991)
The Aldeburgh (England) Festival
David Mruzek (Colby Community College, Kansas).

The 2007 recipient of the Grainger Medallion is Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor of the Wind Symphony and Regents Professor of Music at the University of North Texas (Denton, TX). Particularly noteworthy is his CD "Composer's Collection: Percy Aldridge Grainger," with a selection of pieces by Grainger.

The above information was supplied by Leroy Osmon of the Texas Bandmasters Association and the Texas Music Educators Association, and by Stewart Manville of the International Percy Grainger Society.


PRESERVING A MUSICAL LEGACY


The International Percy Grainger Society is dedicated to preserving the musical legacy of Australian-American composer Percy Grainger, with his many innovations in composition, in the recording of folk-song, and in the creating of original musical instruments. The Society is headquartered in Grainger's long-time home in White Plains, New York. The Society keeps the Percy Grainger archives, containing Grainger's manuscripts, and owns the copyright to his compositions.

The International Percy Grainger Society was founded by his widow, the Swedish-born painter Ella Ström Grainger, who was its leading spirit until her death in 1979. A great debt for keeping up this legacy is also owed to Mr. Stewart Manville, Archivist and Curator, and to Mr. Rolf Stang, President of the Society.

The house itself, at 7 Cromwell Place in White Plains, was Grainger's last home, where he lived from 1921 (when he bought the house with his mother, Rose) until his death in 1961. From the time of his marriage, in 1928, he lived there with Ella. The house looks as it did when he lived there, with his instruments and other furnishings. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. Grainger scholars, composers, and aficionados are invited there to study Grainger's life and works. Visits can be arranged with the Archivist, Mr. Stewart Manville (see the map below).

Percy and Ella at the
Hammond organ

Percy and Ella Grainger at the Hammond organ, 1950. From Thomas P. Lewis, A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger.


How to get there:

The map below shows how to get to the Grainger House, by car or by Metro-North Railroad.

Map of White Plains

Current administration of the Society

The Society is administered by its Board of Trustees, which meets several times a year. These are the current board members:

Rolf K. Stang, President
Mark N. Grant, Vice President
Lucinda Hess, Treasurer
Dana Paul Perna, Secretary

Neely Bruce
Don Gillespie
Matthew McGarrell
Robert S. Simon
Margaret Leng Tan

Stewart Manville, Archivist
Cora Angier Sowa, Webmaster

Meetings are held in the Grainger House

Board meetings are usually held in the dining room of the Grainger house, where members sit around the big table at which Percy used to write his music. Here are some pictures taken at our meeting in the fall of 2002 (not everyone was present):

Board meeting I

(left to right) (the late) Robert Beckhard, Don Gillespie, Stewart Manville, Robert Simon, Dana Perna, Mark Grant

Board meeting II

(clockwise, from left) Stewart Manville, Robert Simon, Dana Perna, Neely Bruce, Robert Beckhard, Cora Sowa, Don Gillespie

VISITORS AT THE GRAINGER HOUSE

Many visitors take a personal tour of the Grainger House at 7 Cromwell (as opposed to the pictorial "virtual tour" offered on this Web site). In 2006, the Society was host to two large groups of musicians: The third weekend in March, some forty members of the Carroll College Wind Band from Wisconsin visited the house, and the following weekend, on March 25, we hosted sixteen music teachers from the College Band Directors' National Association, Eastern Division. Below are some pictures from the band leaders' visit:

Stewart Manville shows off an Edison cylinder recording machine of the kind used by Percy to collect folk songs:

Stewart shows Edison machine

Visiting band directors sign the guest book:

Band teachers sign book

Percy Grainger Society board members Dana Perna and Mark Grant in conversation with Columbia University Wind Ensemble director Andrew Pease:

Dana, Mark, Andrew

The visitors also saw the small model of Percy's Free Music Machine, pictured above with archival pictures of the full-scale machines.

Remembrance of Grainger fans past -- the Flonzaley Quartet

Flonzaley Quartet listens to
Grainger

The basement of the Grainger House, which contains Grainger's fireproof archives, also holds many other wondrous things. In addition to Percy's wheelbarrow, with which he wheeled his luggage to the White Plains train station, there are stacks of old concert programs, publicity materials, and other items. We recently ran across a supply of postcards, whose front side depicts the Flonzaley Quartet listening (as it tells us, we assume truthfully) with rapt attention to one of their own recordings, of Grainger's "Molly on the Shore."

The Flonzaley Quartet was founded by Edward J. de Coppet, a New York banker and patron of the arts of Swiss descent. De Coppet had a summer home, Le Flonzaley, near Lake Geneva. An amateur musician, in 1886 he formed a semi-professional chamber group with his wife and some friends. However, outside demands left insufficient time for rehearsals, and in 1903 de Coppet assembled a group of professional musicians -- Adolfo Betti, first violin, Alfred Pochon, violin, Ugo Ara, viola, and Iwan d'Archambeau, cello -- to devote their entire time and effort to playing and touring as the Flonzaley Quartet. In addition to the standard repertoire, they introduced audiences to both modern and early music, including forgotten pieces by 18th century composers such as Sammartini, Leclair, and Boyce.

The Flonzaley Quartet was one of the first quartets to make recordings. The Quartet disbanded in 1929.


HISTORIC PICTURE OF PERCY GRAINGER WITH NAVY BAND LEADERS

Band director William Aaron Tomlin was kind enough to send us images of a historic photograph in his collection of Grainger memorabilia. The original 8 x 10 photo shows Percy Grainger with US Navy Band Leader Lt. Commander Charles Bendler and his assistant Richard Townsend during World War II. The images below show both the front (entire picture and detail) and the back of the picture. The back bears Percy's name (signature?).

Grainger and band leaders

Grainger and band leaders

Grainger signature(?) on back of picture

About Our Web Site


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A house tour, Grainger information, and other news

This Web site has been designed to bring news of activities of the International Percy Grainger Society, as well as other information concerning Grainger's life and music. Since the Society is headquartered in Grainger's actual house in White Plains, an important part of the site is devoted to a pictorial tour of the house, where we hope that visitors will feel that they are welcome guests of Percy and Ella.

Other pages of this site can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate icons below or on the names on the sidebar down the left of the page. These provide information on the Grainger archives, his cataloged works, membership information, news and announcements. In our "news" category, we like to include the names of new (or newly discovered!) books on Grainger or other materials having to do with Grainger's life and work. The most recent news is put at the top of this home page. Older items are archived on our (Past) News and Announcements" page.

If you have written a book or are giving a a concert or festival that you would like to announce, please contact us.

Grainger house virtual tour

A spacious Victorian home

The Grainger house is a spacious late Victorian house (1893), literally from the "gaslight" era--the gas light fixtures are still there! To it, Percy added his own original enhancements, such as an enlarged window in the living room to let in sunshine, fireproof vaults in the basement, and an exercise bar over the living room doorway.

Artifacts, such as Percy's pianos, an Edison cylinder recorder, and the wheelbarrow in which he wheeled his music to the train station en route to his performances, can still be seen.

The basement vaults contain manuscripts and copies of the composer's works, as described below.

A virtual "guided tour" of the Grainger house is available on this Web site. The "tour" can be taken by clicking on Grainger house or on the accompanying picture.

Grainger house

The Grainger archives

Fireproof basement vaults

Percy Grainger designed special fireproof vaults in his basement to store his manuscripts. The small picture shows the opening bars of one of his compositions. Click on the name Hill Song No. 1 or on the image for information on the Grainger Archives.


A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger (biographical reminiscences, lists of works, and commentaries)

Catalogs, commentaries, and biographical essays

A volume of catalogs to Grainger's works, scores, recordings, and other materials, along with "Biographical/Artistic Vignettes" and "Program Notes" or commentaries, has been prepared by Thomas P. Lewis (1991). The "Vignettes" are a collection of essays and reminiscences, both biographical and musical, by friends, colleagues, and students. The biographical/artistic essays and the "Program notes" are perhaps the most valuable parts of the book, since discographies and locations of scores can get out of date and be superseded by more complete listings.

Originally published by Pro/Am Resources, Inc. of White Plains, NY, this volume, or at least parts of it, is being put online, piece by piece. Chapters 1 and 4 are now available to be read on this site. Click on "Biographical/Artistic Vignettes" or "Program Notes" to go directly to these chapters. Or click on A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger or on the reproduction of its cover below to see the complete Table of Contents of the book.


Membership information

All are invited to become members of the International Percy Grainger Society. Click on this invitation to membership to obtain more information.

Other Web sites

There are other Web sites devoted to the life and work of Percy Grainger. The Percy Grainger Museum in Grainger's native Melbourne, Australia maintains its own site, as do musicians and enthusiasts in the U.K. and other countries. Click to learn about some of these related Web sites.


Materials not otherwise credited on this Web site are copyrighted by the International Percy Grainger Society.

Contact Minerva Systems   The Percy Grainger Web site is maintained by Dr. Cora Angier Sowa of Minerva Systems, a member of the board of the International Percy Grainger Society. You can reach her at her Web site www.minervaclassics.com or send comments by e-mail to casowa@aol.com.

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