A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger
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|Table of Contents to Source Guide|
|1. Biographical/Artistic Vignettes|
|4. Program Notes|
4. PROGRAM NOTES, continued
NOTE: THIS ONLINE VERSION IS CURRENTLY "TEXT ONLY." MUSICAL EXAMPLES REFERRED TO IN THE TEXT HAVE TO BE SCANNED SEPARATELY AND WILL BE ADDED AT A FUTURE DATE.
Grainger: "I consider Hill-Song no. 1 by far the best of all my compositions. But the difficulties of conducting its highly irregular rhythms are almost prohibitive. At the time of composing Hill-Song no. 1 (1901-2, aged 19-20) wildness and fierceness were the qualities in life and nature that I prized the most and wished to express in music. These elements were paramount in my favorite literature--the Icelandic sagas. I was in love with the double reeds (oboe, English horn, etc.) as the wildest and fiercest of musical tone-types. In 1900 I had heard a very harsh-toned rustic oboe (piffero) in Italy, some extremely nasal Egyptian double-reeds at the Paris Exhibition and bagpipes in the Scottish Highlands. I wished to weave these snarling, nasal sounds (which I had heard only in single-line melody) into a polyphonic texture as complex as Bach's, as democratic as Australia (by 'democratic', in a musical sense, I mean a practice of music in which each voice that makes up the harmonic weft en joys equal importance and independence--as contrasted with 'undemocratic' music consisting of a dominating melody supported by subservient harmony). In this way I wished to give musical vent to feelings aroused by the soul-shaking hill-scapes I had rec ently seen on a three days tramp, in Western Argyleshire. I was not in favour of programme-music. I had no wish to portray tonally any actual scenes or even to record musically any impressions of nature. What I wanted to convey in my Hill-song was the nature of the hills themselves--as if the hills themselves were telling of themselves through my music, rather than that I, an onlooker, were recording my 'impressions' of the hills. (In this respect, my purpose in Hill-Song no. 1 differed radically from Delius's in his Song of the High Hills. I asked him whether he, in that noblest of nature music, had aimed at letting the hills speak for themselves, as it were, or whether, instead, hi s aim had been to record in music the impressions received by a man in viewing the face of nature. He said that the latter had been his intention. When Delius and I first met, in 1907, we felt a very close compositional affinity. Our chordal writing seeme d to both of us almost identical in type. And this was not unnatural; for although up to then we had seen nothing of each other's work, our melodic and harmonic inheritances came from much the same sources: Bach, Wagner, Grieg and folk-music. It was Deliu s who arranged for the first public performances of my larger compositions. His favorites among my works were my first and second Hill-Songs, which I played to him in 1907. He had always been devoted to the mountains of Norway. So it was no surprise to me to see that pinnacle of his muse, The Song of the High Hills, emerge around 1911.)
"The musical idiom of Hill-Song no. 1 derives much of its character from certain compositional experiments I had undertaken in 1898, 1899 and 1900 and from certain nationalistic attitudes that were natural to me as an Australian. As chief among these may be mentioned:
"From my Australian standpoint I naturally wanted to make my music as island-like (British, Irish, Icelandic, Scandinavian) as possible, & as unlike the music of the European continent as I could. Since I thought that close intervals (diatonic or chro matic) were characteristic of the European continent, while 'gapped scales' (3-tone, 4-tone, 5-tone, 6-tone scales) were typical of Britain & the other North Sea islands, I strove to make my melodic intervals as wide as possible. Wishing to avoid half-tones (chromatic) as much as I could I embarked around 1898 on a study of the possibilities of whole-tone melody & harmony. In Hill-Song No. 1 the melodic results of these whole-tone studies may be seen in the C natural in bar 26 (Mus. Exam. 6A), in the D na tural in bar 43 (Mus. Exam. 6B), in the top voice of bars 116-119 (Mus. Exam. 6C), & in countless other places.
The harmonic influence of these whole-tone studies is evident in bars 83-85 (Mus. Exam. 6D), bars 273-276 (Mus. Exam. 6E), bars 322-324 (Mus. Exam. 6F, following page), bars 343-346 (Mus. Exam. 6G) and throughout the whole work.
The continual use of the 'flat seventh' (B flat in C major), as seen in bars 269-272 (Mus. Exam. 6H), is another result of this predilection for wide intervals. (Here was an influence presumably drawn from Grieg; for I did not encounter English folksinger s--whose art abounds, of course, in flat sevenths--until two years later.)
"Studies in the rhythms of prose speech that I undertook in 1899 led to such irregular barrings as those in bars 69-74 of Love Verses from 'The Song of Solomon' (Mus. Exam. 6I), composed 1899-1900, which (as far as I know) was the first use of such ir regular rhythms in modern times, though of course Claude Le Jeune (1528-1602), in his 'non-metrical' pieces, used rhythms quite as irregular.
"(The 'innoculation' of the European continent with my irregular rhythms is easily traceable. Cyril Scott, with my enthusiastic permission, adopted my irregular rhythms in his Piano Sonata, op. 66, written in 1908. This finest of all modern piano sona tas was widely played in Central Europe by Alfred Hoehn soon after its appearance. By 1913 these irregular rhythms appear in Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' & other modernistic music of that period.)
"The rhythmic irregularities launched in Love Verses from 'The Song of Solomon' were carried to much greater lengths in Hill-Song No. 1.
"My Australian ideal of a many-voiced texture in which all, or most, of the tone-strands (voices, parts) enjoy an equality of prominence & importance led to such passages as bars 51-60 (Mus. Exam. 6J) & bars 347-350 (Mus. Exam. 6K).
"Around 1898 I adopted the practice of adding mild discords to triads & regarding the combinations thus arrived at as full concords--concords with which it would be suitable to close a composition or a section of a phrase. Thus in 1898 I ended 'Rus tic Dance' (2nd movement of my 'Youthful Suite') with the chords F,C,A,D,F (Mus. Exam. 6L) & in 1901 ended 'Willow Willow' with the chord E,B,G,D (Mus. Exam. 6M).
Hill-Song No. 1 also closes with the last-named chord (Mus. Exam. 6N).
In bar 328 (Mus. Exam. 6O) is seen the addition of the second of the scale to a minor triad.
Typical results of the adding of mild discords to triads may be seen in [Mus. Exam. 6P]. (Debussy ended the first act of 'Pelleas' with the chord F sharp, C sharp, A sharp, D sharp, G sharp. But 'Pelleas' did not reach my ears or those of the musical public until 1902. I saw the score of 'Pelleas' during the summer of 1902, when Hill-Song No. 1 was virtually completed. However there are a few bars in Hill-Song No. 1 that were composed after my contact with 'Pelleas' & I think they show the influence of De bussy [bars 134-137, Mus. Exam. 6T].)
"As a form of 'harmonic melodiousness'--in which all the component notes of the harmony move to the same degree in the same direction (as contrasted with normal harmonic procedures in which some, at least, of the component parts of the harmony move in contrary motion to the melody)--I introduced into my music, well before the turn of the century, passages of triads in conjunct motion. One of the earliest instances is in 'Eastern Intermezzo' (4th movement of my 'Youthful Suite') composed around 1 898 (Mus. Exam. 6Q).
Instances in my Hill-Song No. 1 are bars 197-298 (Mus. Exam. 6R) and bars 328-329 (Mus. Exam.6S).
"No thematic or melodious material is repeated in Hill-Song No. 1, except immediate repetition within a phrase, as in the case of bars 393-397. I view the repetition of themes as a redundancy--as if a speaker should continually repeat himself. I al so consider the repetition of themes undemocratic--as if the themes were singled out for special consideration & the rest of the musical material deemed 'unfit for quotation'.
"As music does not stand complete at any one moment (as architecture does), but unfolds itself in time--like a ribbon rolled out on the floor--I consider a flowing unfoldment of musical form to be part of the very nature of music itself. Therefore, in such a work as Hill-Song No. 1, I eschew all architectural up-buildment & try to avoid arbitrary treatments of musical ideas & the stressing of sectional divisions. My aim is to let each phrase grow naturally out of what foreran it & to keep the mu sic continually at a white heat of melodic & harmonic inventiveness--never slowed up by cerebral afterthoughts or formulas. In other words I want the music, from first to last, to be all theme and never thematic treatment.
"Under the influence of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos & the chamber music arias & recitatives in Bach's Passions I developed the idea of 'large chamber music' around 1898. This included comparatively small combinations for voice & instruments such as ' Willow Willow' for voice, guitar & 4 strings (sketched 1901) & larger scorings such as Hill-Song No. 1 for as many as 24 single instruments--none of the instruments to be played 'massed' as the strings are in the symphonic orchestra & even in the chamb er orchestra. The earliest of my pieces for large chamber-music were thus written 10 years before Vaughan William's 'On Wenlock Edge', 9 or 10 years before the Chamber Symphonies of Schönberg & Shreker, 14 years before Schönberg's 'Pierrot Lunaire' & 22 years before Stravinsky's 'Story of a Soldier'.
"The balance of tone in the Hill-Song No. 1 score is totally different to the balance of tone in an orchestral score. In the orchestra the strongest families are the strings & the brass. In Hill-Song No. 1 the double-reeds & saxophones constitute the strongest group, the brass the next strongest & the strings & harmonium the weakest. This over-weight of nasal & reedy tone-color in Hill-Song No. 1 makes for intensity of tone rather than for volume of tone. This carries out the main intention of the com position: to sound wild & fierce rather than grand or forceful. The original (1902) scoring of Hill-Song No. 1 was for 2 small flutes, 6 oboes, 6 English horns, 6 bassoons & double bassoon. The present scoring (for small flute, flute, 6 double reeds, 2 sa xophones, 3 brass, percussion, harmonium, piano & 6 strings) was undertaken in 1921-22, the non-double-reed instruments being introduced to provide a foil to the double-reed tone. To ensure a wide range of tone-strength differentiation I applied to large chamber music what I would call Wagner's 'organ registration type of scoring'. That is to say: where waxing and waning tone-strengths are called for in one and the same tone-strand ('voice' or 'part') they are attained not merely by changing dynamics in t he instruments playing the total tone-strand, but also by adding extra instruments to the tone-strand where a loudening of the tone [is] desired [and] by withdrawing the extra instruments where a softening of tone is intended.
"To the best of my knowledge, all of the procedures enumerated above were complete innovations at the time that Hill-Song No. 1 was conceived and scored." (1949)
"Grainger regarded his two Hill Songs as being among his 'most perfect' works. They certainly contain some of his most original writing, particularly in their rhythmic complexity. Hill Song No. 1 first appeared in 1902, scored for the ra ther startling combination of two piccolos, six oboes, six English horns, six bassoons and one double-bassoon. No less surprising were the rapid changes of time-signature, including such markings as 1-1/2 (over) 4 and 2-1/2 (over) 4. Grainger re-scored th e work for a more conventional wind group in 1921, arranging a two-piano version the same year. Meanwhile, he had written Hill Song No. 2 in 1907, also for wind band, using in part material from Hill Song No. 1."--David Stanhope (Pian o 2).
"Hill-Song no. 1 was composed for 24 solo instruments. The piano transcription presented in this recording [Altarus AIR-2-9040, 1985] was made in the early 1960s. [Performances have included those by] John Ogdon in London, on an Australian tour and in the 1966 Aldeburgh Festival's 'Tribute to Grainger' concert."--Ronald Stevenson [SS].
"This work for 'large room-music' wind ensemble with cymbal dates from 1907. A note by the composer on the version for two pianos (four hands) provides information on the origin of this work:
Hill-song II is the result of a wish to represent the fast, energetic elements of Hill-song I as a single-type whole, without contrasting types of a slower, more dreamy nature. To this end the bulk of the fast, energetic elements of Hill-song I (composed in 1901 and 1902) were used together with about the same extent of new material of a like character composed in London in April 1907..."--John Hopkins (Orchestral 2).
"This fresh-sounding, imaginatively constructed work was conceived for 23 solo wind and brass players, but optional extra parts are provided for full-band use. It demands great flexibility, fluency and sense of color on the part of all players, and th oughtful musicianship for the conductor. Though now regarded as a classic standard-repertory piece for winds, it is currently  out of print. Hopefully, this situation will be remedied soon."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).
"The sweep of the piece, the manner in which it lives up to its marking of 'Fierce and keen, at fast walking speed', attest to Grainger's success in his musical ambition [to 'keep the musical inventivity throughout at the white heat of thema tic creation and to spread it evenly over the entire length of the piece and over its minor textural details alike']. In his book The Wind Band, Richard Franko Goldman nominates the two Hill Songs and Lads of Wamphray as the first maj or 20th century pieces for band; but, because of the delay in their publication (35 years in the case of the march), the two famous suites by Holst became the earliest established standards of the band repertory."--Frank Hudson.
"The second Hill Song has not the 'Slowly Flowing and Very Wayward' sections of the first, but both start 'In Fast Walking Measure' and share a slow, dreamlike ending. As to their musical worth, perhaps the following anecdote from John Bird's s plendid biography Percy Grainger is enlightening; it concerns Grainger's one-time piano teacher Ferrucio Busoni, whom Grainger described as 'a terribly jealous man': 'In 1907 they met and disucssed the Autralian's Hill Song No. 2. Busoni pla yed one part of the two-piano arrangement and later Grainger remarked that he read it from sight and that his reading of it was marvelous. After they had played it through, Busoni said in a rather sad and unwilling voice, 'That is a fine piece. I must adm it it. That is a fine piece.'"--David Stanhope (Piano 2).
Settings of Songs and Tunes from William Chappell's Old English Popular Music 4
Grainger: "The root-form of this tone-work is for Elastic Scoring (2 instruments up to massed orchestra, with or without voice or voices). All other versions (for piano duet, piano solo, and so on) are off-shoots from the root-form.
"Set for men's chorus and orchestra, May 1904 (Reworked, Aug., 1929). Set for piano (based on above-mentioned choral setting), 1928-1929."
Composer headnote: "Fairly fast."
"The Hunter in his Career was set for men's chorus and orchestra in 1904 and this virtuoso piano arrangement was made in 1928-29."--John Pickard (Piano 3).
"[Pianist Leslie] Howard feels that pianists have much to gain by playing Grainger, owing to Grainger's thorough understanding of the medium. `He had such a colossal command of the keyboard that he notated his piano music much better than a lot of com posers did,' Howard says. `For example, sometimes he'll write a chord and he'll ask for a different dynamic level for each note in it. Many good pianists do that instinctively, but many who just see forte play all the notes the same without realizi ng that not all notes are equal. Grainger actually makes you think a lot about piano playing because he notates his music so carefully. You can recognize a page of Percy a hundred yards away just because of the intricacies of the notation.'
"A typical Grainger piece will have all sorts of unusual notation. The Hunter in His Career, for example--written originally for chorus and orchestra--begins with the instruction: `top voice well to the fore'.
"`He indicates different dynamics for different voices right at the beginning,' points out Howard, `and you must use the middle pedal before you get to the end of the first line.
"`He uses small and large notes--the smaller notes are softer than the larger ones, so there are two dynamics in one hand.
"`And he makes use of `bunched' notes. Bartók also used this idea. He wants you to play a note with all the fingers bunched together, to produce a loud and individual sound quality.
"`And instead of a crescendo poco a poco, he indicates louden lots bit by bit!'
"This all adds up to an extremely interesting and challenging body of work."--Charles Passy.
British Folk-Music Settings Nr. 8
Grainger: "Folk-song from Lincolnshire and Somerset. Tune and words taken down from the singing of Mr. Fred Atkinson, of Redbourne, Kirton, Lindsey, Lincs, 3.9.1905. Yule 1905.[Revised version--for women's voices, high and low men's voices, and piano version of brass band accompaniment--publ. 1912 by Schott & Co. (Ed.)]
"I collected the following tune [Mus. Exam. 8A--next page, top] from Mr. Fred Atkinson. Mr. Atkinson is a fine rhythmic singer, and has a ringing tenor voice.
"Mr. Cecil J. Sharp has very kindly allowed me to make free use [from bar 92 in my score] of the following version [Mus. Exam. 8B, next page] of the same tune collected by him (at Ile Bruers, in 1904) from the singing of Mr. William Spearing. See Journal of the Folksong Society Nr. 6, p. 9. For other versions of the tune and words see: 'Folk Songs from Somerset, 2nd series, pp. 4 and 64; Journal of the Folksong Society, vol. 1, p. 92, vol. 2, p. 10. Scott's Musical Museum, 1792, Nr. 397. Songs of the West, Nr. 73. The words are also found on broadsides printed by H. Such, London, & Bebbington, Manchester."
Grainger: "For my merry wife. Tone-wrought for Organ, or Mixed Chorus (with or without Organ or other instruments), or Full Orchestra, or Strings, or Wind Band, or various Wind Groups. Begun 1st 1/2 of 1933. Ended Oct. 24, 1939. Dished-up fo r piano by the tone-wright (July 9-10, 1940).
"Program-note. The Immovable Do (composed 1933-1939) draws its title from one of the 2 kinds of Tonic Sol-fa musical notation, one with 'movable Do' ('Do' corresponding to the tonic or key-note of whatever key the music is couched in, from mome nt to moment--thus the note designated by 'Do' varies with modulation) and the other with an 'immovable Do', in which Do always designates the note C. In my composition--not based on folksong or any popular tune--the 'immovable Do' is a high dron e on C which is sounded throughout the entire piece. Although the choral score was not worked out until May, 1940, my conception of the composition, from the first (first half of 1933), was for organ (or harmonium) or voices, or both together (with possib le association of string or wind groups, or orchestra, or band)."
Composer headnote: "Stridingly." Added note to piano score: "In the original version (organ, orchestra, band, etc.) [the] drone is heard throughout the whole piece. If a second player is at hand let him play the drone throughout the [piano ver sion of] the whole piece as follows, beginning with bar 2: EX 1
He should play this drone an octave higher when it collides with the Piano Solo part (bars 18-39, 46-90, 98-120)."
Grainger: "Begun 1st 1/2 of 1933; ended Oct. 24, 1939. Choral score worked out, May 12-17, 1940.
"For mixed chorus unaccompanied, or with organ or harmonium, or with 9 strings or string orchestra, or with full orchestra, or with clarinet choir or saxophone choir, or with other wind choirs, or with wind band.[Edition for 3 women's voices, 2 men' s voices and organ ("Pipe or Electric Organ, or Reed Organ, or Harmonium. If played on Reed Organ or Harmonium, the 'Pedal' part should be played by a second player") published by G. Schirmer, 1940. (Ed.)]
"TO CONDUCTORS. It is important that all phrasing is made to sound, by the singers, as it appears in the vocal score. There should never be an impression of any break (silence, gap) within any slurred passage. Gaps (breathing breaks) occurring at regular intervals (every 2 bars, or every 4 bars) should be especially avoided. In long slurred passages (such as bars 6 to 14 in the Women's First Highs; such as bars 14 to 20 in the Men's Second Lows) it may be desirable to use individual breath-taking (with half the voices taking breath at spots not likely to be naturally chosen by most of the other singers--such as the 2nd & 4th quarters of the bar) rather than massed breath-taking. Should individual breath-taking not prove practicable, then each vocal couple (standing next to each other, two & two, in the chorus) should adopt contrasting breathing habits: the first singer taking breath somewhere around the beginning of the 2nd or 4th bar of 4-bar phrases, the second singer taking breath somewhere around the beginning of the 1st or 2rd bar of 4-bar phrases. But individual breath-taking (above described) is preferable, if it works. Each singer may deviate from the details of the wordless syllables, as long as their general character and ef fect are maintained. This choral version may be used together with any or all of the other editions of this piece: Organ or Harmonium, 9 strings or String Orchestra, Small or Full Orchestra, Clarinet Choir, Saxophone Choir, Wood-Wind Choir, Band. The comp osition is naturally fitted to be used on occasions (such as high school & competition festivals) when many different organizations are massed together."
"While many of [Grainger's] compositions are based on folksong--of which he was himself a zealous collector--many of his musical ideas are original, including the theme of this ebullient short piece. Grainger got the idea from a leaking harmoniu m which sounded a high C throughout whatever he played on it. He first had the idea in 1933, and gradually developed the piece over the next six years, and it was published in 1942. The title is a punning reference to the two forms of tonic sol-fa nomencl ature. Do is usually the key-note, but it can also refer just to the note C. As a high C sounds throughout this must be the long-est held pedal note in all music."--Lewis Foreman.
"The Immovable 'Do' sprang from a chance occurrence one morning in 1933 when seated at his harmonium he discovered that the mechanics of the high C had broken and caused it to cipher through whatever part he played. Turning the fault to good use, he decided to improvise around the note and very soon had created this engaging and unusual work."--John Bird (Shore).
"It was written between 1933 and 1939. The full orchestra version was completed in April 1940. The programme note by the composer [notes that]:... 'From the very start (in 1933) I conceived the number for any or all of the following mediums singly or combined: for organ (or reed organ), for mixed chorus, for woodwind or wind groups, for full orchestra, for string orchestra or 9 single strings. It seemed natural for me to plan it simultaneously for these different mediums, seeing that such mu sic hinges upon intervallic appeal rather than upon effects of tone-color.'"--John Hopkins (Orchestral 3).
"Another example of what Grainger called 'elastic scoring', this work is playable by many different combinations of instruments through the use of an ingenious system of cross-cueing. The dedication is also characteristic: 'For my merry wife '."--Frank Hudson.
(scored Nov-Dec 1939)
"Difficulty: medium advanced.
"Grainger's ingenuity of harmonic invention and command of sonority are nowhere more effectively displayed than in this work. Using the note C (Do) sounding throughout the piece in the treble instruments, Grainger presents an attractive, flowing melod ic line, with rich, lush chords and numerous countermelodies, rising to several imposing climaxes. Technically not difficult, but requires a group with good intonation and tonal focus."--Joseph Kreines (GJS IV/2).
"The Immovable Do (or the Cyphering C) is one of Grainger's most amusing whimsies. It began life when Grainger discovered that a high C was cyphering through every time he played his harmonium. SO, with typical presence of mind, he set about co mposing a `ramble' around a pedal C which can be played throughout the piece. However, the work (completed in 1939) stands on its own terms and is [in the Nimbus recording of complete piano music, vol. 1] presented without the offending note."--John Pickard (Piano 1).
1. Arrival Platform Humlet
2. Gay but wistful (Tune in a popular London style)
4. "The Gum-suckers" March
Grainger: "Suite for orchestra, piano and Deagan percussion instruments.
"No folk-songs or any other popular tunes are used in any of the numbers of this Suite. The piano is not treated as a virtuoso solo instrument, but merely as a somewhat outstanding item of the general orchestral make-up. 4 novel Deagan percussion instruments (marvelously perfected examples of American inventive ingenuity in the field of musical instrument-making) are grouped together with the usual xylophone, glockenspiel and celesta. Their names are:
Deagan steel Marimba or Marimbaphone [or Hawkes' Resonaphone] (a sort of bass clockenspiel);
Deagan wooden Marimbaphone or Marimba-Xylophone (a sort of bass xylophone);
Deagan Swiss Staff Bells (similar to `Swiss hand bells' in tone); and
Deagan Nabimba (a 5-octave instrument combining some of the characteristics of South-American Marimbas with a strongly-marked clarinet and bass-clarinet quality).
"No. 1. ARRIVAL PLATFORM HUMLET. Awaiting the arrival of belated train bringing one's sweetheart from foreign parts; great fun! The sort of thing one hums to oneself as an accompaniment to one's tramping feet as one happily, excitedly, paces up and down the arrival platform. The final swirl does not depict the incoming of the expected train. The humlet is not 'program' music in any sense. It is marching music composed in an exultant mood in a railway station, but does not portray the station itself, its contents, or any event.
"There are next to no chords in this composition, it being conceived almost exclusively in 'single line' (unaccompanied unison or octaves).
"There are likewise no 'themes' (in the sense of often-repeated outstanding motives), as the movement from start to finish is just an unbroken stretch of constantly varied melody, with very few repetitions of any of its phrases.
"The following quotations show some of the various types of tune met with in the piece [see five excerpts given as Mus. Exam. 9A, page 178 opposite].
"The 'Arrival Platform Humlet' was begun in Liverpool Street and Victoria railway Stations (London) on February 2, 1908; was continued in 1908, 1910 and 1912 (England, Norway, etc.), and scored during the summer of 1916 in New York City.
"No. 2. 'GAY BUT WISTFUL'. Tune in a popular London style. For my dear friend Edward J. de Coppet.
"An attempt to write an air with a 'Music Hall' flavor embodying the London blend of gaiety with wistfulness so familiar in the performances of George Grossmith, Jr., and other vaudeville artists. The 'Gay but wistful' tune consists of two strains, li ke the 'solo' and 'chorus' of music-hall ditties.
"The 'solo' section begins as [Mus. Exam. 9B, above] while the 'chorus' part runs [Mus. Exam. 9C].
"The musical material, composed in London, dates from about 1912, and was worked out and scored during the winter of 1915/16 in New York City and in railway trains.
"No. 3. PASTORAL. For my dear comrade in art and thought Cyril Scott.
"The Pastoral is based chiefly on the following phrases [Mus. Exam. 9D--see next page].
"The passage [given as Mus. Exam. 9E] from the climax of the Pastoral (about halfway through) is typical of the free harmonic habits of this movement.
"The tune marked (a) was composed at Binfield, Surrey, England, probably about 1907. Apart from this all the contents of the Pastoral date from 1915 and 1916 (New York City, Ypsilanti, Mich., Rochester, N.Y., etc.). The whole thing was put together an d scored during the spring and summer of 1916 (New York City).
"No. 4. 'THE GUM-SUCKERS' MARCH. For Henry and Abbie Finck, with love.
"`Gum-suckers' is a nick-name for Australians hailing from the state of Victoria, the home state of the composer. The leaves of the 'gum' (Eucalyptus) trees are very refreshing to suck in the parching summer weather.
"The first theme, composed at Hill Hall, Epping, England (probably around about 1911), is as follows [Mus. Exam. 9F, below].
"The second theme [Mus. Exam. 9G] is taken from the composer's own Up-country Song (an attempt to write a melody typical of Australia as Stephen Foster's songs are typical of America), which dates from about 1905. The same melody is also used i n the same composer's Australian piece entitled Colonial Song.
"Other tunes and ideas in the March date from between 1905 and 1907, of which the following may be cited [Mus. Exam. 9H--next page].
"The 'Gum-suckers' March abounds in 'double-chording'--that is, unrelated chord-groups passing freely above, below, and through each other, without regard to the harmonic clash resulting therefrom. [For example, see Mus. Exam. 9I, next page.]
"Towards the end of the movement is heard a many-voiced climax in which clattering rhythms on the percussion instruments and gliding chromatic chords on the bass are pitted against the long notes of the 'Australian' second theme, a melodic counter-the me and a melodic bass. [Mus. Exam. 9J.]
"The March was worked out in the summer of 1914 (at Evergood Cottage, Goudhurst, Kent, England), and scored late the same year in New York City.
"N.B. FOR CONDUCTORS. To get the greatest possible effect, 7 or 8 percussion-players are needed to play the glockenspiel, xylophone, wooden marimba, steel marimba, staff bells, and nabimba parts. Nevertheless, the Suite can be effectivel y performed without the staff bells and nabimba, and by changing the players about (see orchestral score and percussion band parts), ONLY 4 PLAYERS are needed for the following instruments: glockenspiel, xylophone, wooden marimba, steel marimba.
"Orchestras wishing to perform the Suite can rent the steel marimba, wooden marimba and staff bells from C. H. Ditson & Co., 8 E. 34th St., New York City."
"In a Nutshell is an entirely original orchestral composition drawing upon many different sources for its inspiration, yet which as a suite maintains a remarkable unity of spirit. 'Arrival Platform Humlet' (A 'humlet' being a small 'hum') was b egun at Liverpool Street and Victoria Railway Stations (London) on February 2, 1908 and like the other movements is scored for full orchestra, one or two pianos and four Deagen percussion instruments grouped with the usual xylophone, glockenspiel and cele sta....
"'Gay but wistful' is his attempt to write 'an air with a 'Music Hall' flavour.... The harmonies of 'Pastoral' are treated in a delightfully free manner and underpin a dream-like melody of exceptional beauty.
"Like Schumann, Grainger was fond of cross-quoting themes in different compositions and '<|>'The Gum-suckers' March' uses a tune from his own Up-country Song. It also abounds in instances where unrelated chord-groups pass freely above, below an d through each other regardless of the harmonic clash resulting therefrom."--John Bird (Shore).
"The use of 4 special Deagan percussion instruments is referred to in detail in the opening pages of the full score. The instruments were Steel Marimbaphone, Wooden Marimbaphone, Swiss Staff Bells and Nabimba. Alas these instruments are not generally available for performances today and percussion instruments of similar tone and range [are generally] substituted."--John Hopkins (Orchestral 3).
"This is one of Grainger's most delightful yet unusual works, combining jaunty vigor, warm lyricism and spicily dissonant, bitonal passages. [The piano/wind band version] was intended for publication but was never issued, though Grainger himself playe d the piano part with many bands throughout the country. A revision of the parts and a full score are in preparation . It requires a technically advanced and proficient pianist with a band to match."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).
"Grainger originally conceived this work for orchestra, with important parts for piano and mallet percussion. The work is lively, spirited and exhuberant, spiced with bitonal passages that provide effective contrasts with the jaunty march-tu ne and the flowing lyric melodies."--Joseph Kreines (Unknown).
"Although the four movements together form a satisfying shape it should be emphasised that this is in no sense a sonata or a symphony (Grainger was oppposed to such forms)--each movement is autonomous.... [The first] movement, almost entirely in ba re octaves, is marked `with healthy and somewhat fierce "go"'. Gay but wistful is described as `a tune in a popular London style.' No explanation is given of the title Pastoral, which is quite significant given that the music is among the most profound that Grainger ever wrote. Pastoral stands apart from the general jollity of the suite. It is a brooding and intense meditation on the opening folk-like tune which gradually beuilds to an extended, anguished and harshly disso nant climax before returning to stillness. The final bars are punctuated by soft notes deep in the bass, played directly onto the piano strings with a marimba mallet--a haunting conclusion to the piece which perhaps probes Grainger's psyche more deeply than any other and about which he had so little to say. 'The Gum Suckers' March immediately dispels all dark thoughts."--John Pickard (Piano 1).
"The suite In a Nutshell was put together in 1916 for a music festival held in Norfolk, Connecticut [as the result of a $500 commission]. The important solo part of the original orchestral version is preserved in the arrangement for two pianos, the second piano taking most of the orchestral material. Perhaps the four contrasting movements give as complete a picture of Grainger as is possible in a single composition, for many of his characteristic moods are present. Here is fierce energy, nostalgia, wild idyllic beauty and hectic gaiety.
"The first movement, 'Arrival Platform Humlet' [dating from 1908], has few chords, the free, unbroken melodic line being almost entirely at the unison or in octaves.
"'Gay but wistful'--'an attempt to write an air with a "Music Hall" flavour'--has an easily recognisable solo and chorus.
"The third movement... is one of Grainger's fascinating rambles in unusual harmony and rhythmical freedom. Although very 'wayward' (a number of sections are, in fact, unsynchronised) the music reaches an intense climax about half-way through, a passag e that not only depicts the majesty of an enormous landscape, but its starkness and mystery. The closing pages (which largely dispense with bar-lines) perhaps suggest a countryside in twilight and a moment of wistfulness enters the dying stillness; howeve r, the last notes (played on the bass strings with a woollen marimba mallet) are quite cold and ominous.
"The suite ends with an affectionate romp; the march plunges into its main theme, a tune that gives Grainger ample scope for high-kicking off-beats. After a skittish middle section, the march resumes at an impish pianissimo, eventually reaching a blaz ing finale full of violent harmonic clashes and good humour.[A touch of longing for his home-country can be discerned when he quotes his own Australian Up-Country Song during the march. This movement was dedicated to 'Henry and Abbie Finck with l ove'. Henry T. Finck was the music critic of the New York Evening Post and he wrote very enthusiastically about Grainger's performances. Finck was not just a music critic. He also wrote on subjects such as primitive love, foods and diet. --John Hopkins (Orchestral 3).]"--David Stanhope (Piano 2).
Grainger: "N.B. All big stretches can be harped (played arpeggio) at will."
"In its youthful optimistic vigor, the march (1905-14) suggests the Percy who would hike from one concert to another. In spite of its simple, direct tone, the main theme's construction has a very un-march-like sophistication. It evolves by c ontinuous motivic transformation and contains no exact repeitions of phrase.
"When a critic complained that the march was vulgar, the composer's mother replied unabashedly, 'But there is always something vulgar about Percy. If it wasn't vulgar, it wouldn't be Percy.' (Percy used to say 'The world is dying of good taste.') The dicthotomy between his intellect and his 'vulgarity' explains Percy's anomalous reputation. The general public is not aware of the sophisticated musicianship of his music, while the cerebral tastemakers are not generally attracted to pieces with such titles as 'The Gum-Suckers'."--Joseph Smith.
Grainger: "Using tune from Darkie Comic Opera In Dahomey by Will Marion Cook and tunes from Arthur Pryor's A coon band contest Dished up [for piano solo] by Percy Grainger. For W. G. Rathbone. For you have always been so good to it."
"In Dahomey is surprisingly neglected in view of its breathtaking impact. Written between 1903 and 1909, it reflects Grainger's interest in black American music... a wonderfully jazzy romp which would have surely established instant p opularity were it not so horrendously difficult to play."--John Pickard (Piano 1).
"The cakewalk was the first American dance to become the rage of Europe. The two events most instrumental in igniting this craze were the first European tour of Sousa's band (1900) and the English run of In Dahomey, a Black musical comedy starring Williams and Walker. Percy relished both events, started to improvise in the ragtime style, and in 1903 began his composition, likewise titled In Dahomey (finished 1909). This piece is based on a song from the show (music by Will Mari on Cook, a distinguished Black composer-conductor of the day) and themes from a cakewalk by Athur Pryor (then trombone soloist with Sousa), and is doubtless a memento both of Williams and Walker's flamboyant cakewalking and of Pryor's preposterously virtuosic playing.
"Contemporary accounts enthusiastically describe Williams and Walker's ability to dance in character--Bert Williams with cultivated awk-wardness, and George Walker with elegant, self-congratulatory foppishness. Percy's piece alternates delicate imp ressionism with indelicate bumpiness: the interpretive indications range from 'smoothy' to 'clumsy and wildly'. Pryor's trombone is evoked even more explicitly. One of the quoted melodies features a prominent trombone 'lick'--a zigzagging slide. Its tr anslation into a pianistic equivalent causes In Dahomey to be a glorification of glissandi--on the black keys, on the white keys, in contrary motion, with the nail, with the fist. Inevitably, this tune and the Cook melody are combined, resulting in a page of nearly Ivesian dissonance. Percy captures the instrumental colors of the period, as banjo, brass band, and trombone solo are conjured up. Encountering Dahomey for the first time is like entering a time machine."--Joseph Smith.
[Published by Henmar Press/C. F. Peters Corp., 1987. (Ed.)]
"Grainger's In Dahomey is a concert rag. It belongs to the masterpieces of ragtime, together with those of Eubie Blake and Scott Joplin. An even better comparison might be with the Creole rag-composer Louis Chauvin, Joplin's friend; because Cha uvin mingled black and white heredity, just as Grainger mixes Cook's black music and Pryor's white in a process of acculturation. It has waited unpublished for 78 years--more than a lifetime. But its lifetime is Methuselan (and remember that thi s seventh in descent from Adam bore the name of the 'man of the javelin', a javelin thrown into the future). Grainger's rag is published at a time when the efforts of such advocates as Joshua Rifkin and William Bolcom have done much to secure ragtime full musical citizenship alongside the masterpieces of European piano literature.
"Two manuscripts (the only available, perhaps the only extant) were consulted:
"(a) Grainger's original, kindly supplied by Mrs. D. Hammond of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire (UK), into whose possession it came through the family of the composition's dedicatee, Grainger's friend W. G. Rathbone. It is written in blue-black ink with so me passages, which may be omitted by the performer, written in red ink. In the present edition, these optional cuts are indicated by alphabetical letters in bold type, A-AA etc. Grainger's ms paper bears the imprint of S. Marshall & Sons, Adelaide, No . 1. Measures 31 to 33 are written on a different paper and glued as a palimpsest, obliterating an earlier version.
"(b) a photocopy of an anonymous copyist's script, kindly supplied by Dr. Kay Dreyfus, Archivist and Curator of the Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne. Dr. Dreyfus conjectures that the hand may be that of the composer's mother, Rose Grainger. Th ough the script does have features in common with other examples of Mrs. Grainger's calligraphy, the editor thinks it is most probably in another hand (see the tabulated comparison-charts printed as appendix, following music).
"Three inspirational sources gave rise to Grainger's In Dahomey, two of them musical, the other ethnographic.
"1. In Dahomey: a Negro Musical Comedy / book by Jesse A. Shipp / lyrics by Paul Lawrence Dunbar and others / music by Will Marion Cook / produced at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London (UK) May 16, 1903 (an all-Black cast) / copyright 1902 by W. M . Cook, New York / vocal score published by Keith Prowse & Co. Ltd., London 1903.
"2. A Coon Band Contest: jazz fox-trot by Arthur Pryor / copyright [N.Y.?] 1899, by Arthur Pryor / piano score published by Emil Ascher, N.Y. 1918. (The subtitle 'jazz fox-trot' was added to the edition of 1918 and is stylistically an anachronism relative to the edition of 1899.)
"3. The Imperial International Exhibition, London (UK) 1909. This featured a reconstructed Dahomey village with adobe huts and wrestling demonstrations by Black Africans in tribal costume. Grainger purchased a postcard from this exhibition. Dahomey (French Dahomé), formerly an independent kingdom, was a French colony in 1909 in West Africa.
"The editor is indebted to Mr. Don Gillespie [of C. F. Peters Corp.] for supplying photocopies of title-pages and specimen pages of printed music of the published piano score of the first two sources listed above.
"W. M. Cook (1869-1944) was a Washington-born ragtime composer, son of a Black professor of law at Howard University. He studied violin at Oberlin Conservatory and later with Joachim in Berlin and Dvor k at the National Conservatory, N.Y. He trained a n all-Black band in New York in 1905 and the American Syncopated Orchestra which toured the States and Europe. He composed an operetta Clorinda or The Origin of the Cakewalk (Broadway 1898) and an opera St. Louis 'ooman (cf. John Tasker Howard: Our American Music, 3rd Ed., Thomas Y. Crowell, 1946).
"Arthur Pryor (1870-1942) was a White American musician born in St. Joseph, Mo. He founded his concert band in 1903 when he relinquished his position as first trombone and assistant conductor of Sousa's band. He recorded A Coon Band Contest in N.Y. October 17, 1905 (Victor 4069).
"Grainger's In Dahomey quotes (opening measures and elsewhere) the chorus of Cook's Brown Skin Baby Mine (words by W. M. Cook and Cecil Mack):
She ain't no violet,
She ain't no red, red rose...
But 'mongst de flowers fair
Kaint none compare
Wid brown skin baby mine.
"Pryor's A Coon Band Contest is quoted by Grainger, beginning in measure 34.
"The syncopation basic to ragtime (as it is to all Black music) originated, according to Natalie Curtis-Burlin (cf. Negro Folk-Songs, Hampton series, books I-IV, Schirmer, N.Y., 1918-19) in the black slave's heroic attempts to learn the alien English language. Natalie Curtis-Burlin instances the accentuation of 'Go Down, Moses'. (Curtis-Burlin was a friend of Grainger and, like him, a fellow-student under Busoni.)
"Grainger's subtitle to In Dahomey: a 'cakewalk smasher', invokes the dance of black American 19th century origin, popularized in imitations in 'black' minstrel shows, vaudeville and burlesque, especially in 'walk around' finales. It originated in parodies of white slave-owners' genteel manners and dances. The name may derive from the prize of a cake given to the best slave dancers. Even before the 'Nineties, 'cakewalk contests' were organized at public entertainments in northern areas of the U .S.A. Its improvised choreography featured arm-in-arm strutting and prancing with bowing fore and aft, high kicks and salutes to spectators. Its most celebrated imitation in piano recital literature is Debussy's Golliwogg's Cakewalk from his Children's Corner Suite (1906-08). The cakewalk tempo (like all ragtime) was very moderate. Listen to Grainger's recording of the Debussy (a collector's disc: matrix and take number 81323-3; catalog number [USA] 3002-D; subsequent US numbers 2001-M and 1 83-M; recorded October 31, 1923). Grainger's tempo is exemplary and suggests a preference for the most moderate tempo of In Dahomey. Grainger's Debussy is also characterized by rhythmic 'commas'. His In Dahomey extends these commas to semi-colons. Are they related to elisions in Black speech (as in W. M. Cook's opera title St. Louis 'ooman)?
"As to the other word in the subtitle--'smasher'--it is justified by the catacylsm of virtuosity in the piece. This is at its most frenetic in the innovations of fist and back-of-hand glissandi--pre-echoes of Grainger's 'Free-Music'.
"What of Grainger's other connections and affinities with Black musicians? There were many: his collaborations with R. Nathaniel Dett, Duke Ellington and J. Lawrence Cook. The Black composer who had most in common with Grainger was surely Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1739-1799), born on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe of a French father and black slave mother. He studied violin with Gossec but plied rapier as deftly as bow. Sprinter, bareback equestrian, skater, swimmer, crack pistol-shot, as well as symphonist and quartetist, here indeed was a brother of Grainger across the centuries!
"Dr. Key Dreyfus communicates this amusing comment from Grainger's letter to his Danish sweetheart Karen Holten, from N.D.L.S.S. Seydlitz, June 1, 1909:
I have completed writing out In Dahomey, with the exception of 2 notes which I will write in Colombo harbor so that I can sign the piece on English-owned earth. (Ceylon belongs to us, you see.) I won't sign anything on a German ship. In the worst case I write 'At Sea'.
"He added the two notes in Aden harbor on June 12, 1909.
"Editorial fingering of left-hand arpeggi follows Grainger's advice as given in his master lesson on Grieg's Norwegian Bridal Procession (Theodore Presser, N. Y., 1920); the point being to relieve hand tension by dividing a wide-spanning arpegg io into smaller hand positions.
"Grainger's multiple ossias (alternative, variorum readings) render many different versions of the piece possible: a democratic principle, allowing performer's choice. This procedure was also practised by Boulez and others with a delay of somet hing like a half-century. But these ossias create legibility problems and do not economize on paper. The editor has accordingly had recourse to Liszt's practice of notating two hands on one stave (as in the opening measures).
"P.S. The Editor extends grateful acknowledgement to his music setter, Mr. Barry Peter Ould, who assisted indispensibly with research in securing perusal of Grainger's original MS, a treasure not even held in the trove of the Grainger Mu seum, University of Melbourne."--Ronald Stevenson [Dahomey].
"The transcription of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford's Four Irish Dances is a piano arrangement of Stanford's orchestral suite which is itself based on actual Irish folk tunes. The tunes were taken from the `Petrie collection of ancien t Irish music' (which Stanford had edited and which also yielded such famous tunes as Molly on the Shore and Londonderry Air). Stanford's suite treats the melodies with the same freedom that Grainger applied to his own arrangements and, in h is piano version, Grainger spices them up further with his own brand of pianistic pyrotechnics.
"The first dance, A March-Jig, is based on two melodies: 'Maguire's Kick' (a marching tune used by the Irish rebels in 1798) and a county of Leitrim Jig-tune. Despite an 'Allegro Moderato' marking, the second dance is indeed a Slow Dance. Here a tune called 'Madame Cole' (which Grainger points out is 'reminiscent rather of the art music of the 17th century than of the Irish countryside') is used as the basis of an elegant Bourée. The delicate Leprechaun's Dance is based on two tunes, simply entitled 'Jig' and 'Hop Jig' and Grainger prefaces the score with a brief dissertation on the Leprechaun '...tiny man fairies who wear tall hats and knee britches. The man that can catch one of them becomes fabulously rich, it is asserted. But they are hard to catch... Quite recently a Leprechaun was reported seen in Ireland, and a man was even said to have put his hat over him. But on the removal of the hat the fairy was found to have vanished.'
"The final dance, A Reel, uses a Cork reel with the alarming
title 'Take her out and air her'. This constitutes the virtuosis outer
sections which enclose a gentler central section based on a tune called
'The cutting of the hay'."--John Pickard (Piano 4).