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.
"The tune was collected by Miss J. [Jane] Ross, of New Town, Limavady Co. Derry (Ireland) and printed in The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland (Dublin, 1855) on page 57 of which collection the following remarks by George Petrie go before the tune, which is headed: 'Name unknown':
For the following beautiful air I have to express my very grateful acknowledgement to Miss J. Ross, of New Town, Limavady, in the County of Londonderry--a lady who has made a large collection of the popular unpublished melodies of the county , which she has very kindly placed at my disposal, and which has added very considerably to the stock of tunes which I had previously acquired from that still very Irish county. I say still very Irish, for though it has been planted for more than two cent uries by English and Scottish settlers, the old Irish race still forms the great majority of its peasant inhabitants; and there are few, if any counties in which, with less foreign admixture, the ancient melodies of the country have been so extensively pr eserved. The name of the tune unfortunately was not ascertained by Miss Ross, who sent it to me with the simple remark that it was 'very old', in the correctness of which statement I have no hesitation in expressing my perfect concurrence."
[Edition for 2 female voices, 4 males voices and piano (for practice only) publ. by Schott & Co., 1912. (Ed.)]
British Folk-Music Settings Nr. 5
Grainger: "Set Oct., 1902.
"Instructions to the chorus: Where bigger and smaller notes appear at the same time, in different parts, the bigger notes should be sung greatly to the fore, much louder than the smaller notes.
"The smaller notes should always be sung accompanyingly, merely forming a quite soft background to the bigger notes.
"Passages marked 'open' should be sung on 'ah' or other suitable vowel. Passages marked 'hum' should be sung with closed lips."
[Vocal and harmonium score (also conductor's compressed score) publ. by G. Schirmer, 1930. (Ed.)]
British Folk-Music Settings Nr. 29
Grainger: "Set May 16-23, 1920, New York City. For the origin of this tune see the earler settings of it in this series: [British Folk-Music Settings] Nos. 5, 6, 15, 20. The present setting has nothing in common with the earlier ones as regards harmony, form, etc.
Small combination: 4 women's single voices or women's small chorus (Men's small unison chorus ad lib.,), harmonium (or pipe-organ) and 3 single wind or string instruments [e.g. euphonium (or trombone or other instruments), bass-clarinet (or 'cello or other instruments), contra-sarrusophone (or double-bass or other instruments].
Large combination: women's large chorus (men's unison chorus ad lib.), pipe-organ and symphony orchestra (or military band).
"N.B. Where very long phrases, without breathing breaks, are found in the vocal parts, no uniformity of breathing is intended. Each singer should breathe in a different place, as far as possible, so that the total effect may be that of an unbro ken line with no suggestion of any pauses for breath-taking. Where breathing breaks are given, however, as in the case of the shorter phrases, they should be closely followed."
British Folk-Music Settings No. 6
Composer headnote: "Slowish, but not dragged, and wayward in time."
"Irish Tune from County Derry was originally... of unknown title. The many sets of words to which it has become better known [including 'Danny Boy'] are all more recent additions. Grainger's simple setting penetrates both heart and soul of this most magnificent of Irish melodies."--Leslie Howard (Piano 1).
"Like Molly on the Shore, the Irish Tune from County Derry was taken from the Complete Petrie Collection of the Music of Ireland edited by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. It is the most famous of all Irish melodies and in this beau tiful setting Grainger outdoes himself in terms of detail of phrasing and harmonic refinement. The printed score looks extraordinary: the tune, which is frequently embedded in the middle of the texture, is printed in bigger notes than the harmony notes an d the pedalling is notated with such care that it almost takes on a life of its own."--John Pickard (Piano 3).
"Irish Tune from County Derry was arranged and scored for the military band in 1916."--James Westbrook.
"Difficulty: medium advanced.
"This is undoubtedly Grainger's best-known and most-played work for band, and is also one of the most difficult to perform well, demanding considerable tonal and musical maturity and a fine sense of balance and blend; while the horn parts re quire both flexibility and power. Regardless of these reservations, all bands should have the experience of knowing and playing this music, which remains a model of superb scoring, harmonic genius and powerful emotional expression."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).
Joseph Kreines transcr. for band, 1980
"Unlike the other settings which Grainger made of this tune [e.g. for women's voices, harmonium and three instrumental parts (elastic scoring), and men's voices ad lib, 1920], all of which have the same basic harmonization in common, [his versi on for band] is an entirely different approach to the melody--highly chromatic and contrapuntal, with considerable dissonance and unusual harmonic progressions. The resultant mood is rather strained and anguished, though not without a proud and noble c haracter. It concludes with an intense and powerful climax. [My] transcription requires good baritone and horns and beauty, richness and control from the woodwinds--especially clarinets and saxophones."--Joseph Kreines (Unknown).
Danish Folk-Music Settings No. 3[Note: version for elastic scoring also given as Danish Folk-Music Settings No. 9; that for 2 pianos/6 hands as Danish Folk-Music Settings No. 8. (Ed.)]
Grainger: "Jutish Medley of Danish folk-songs gathered in Jutland by Evald Tang Kristensen and Percy Aldridge Grainger in 1922 and 1927. Honor-tokened to Evald Tang Kristensen in deep worth-prize-ment and fond friendship. Set for piano, October-November, 1927, using earlier room-music sketches.
"The tunes used in the Jutish Medley are as follows:
"CHOOSING THE BRIDE (Ungersvendens Brudevalg). Sung by Mrs. Anna Munch (maiden name: Anna Nielsen Bech), of Fræer Mark, Skjørping, Jutland, Denmark, on October 8, 1927. Gathered by Evald Tang Kristensen, Statsskovrider Poul Lorenzen and Percy Aldridge Grainger. [See Mus. Exam. 10A, below.]
"THE DRAGOON'S FAREWELL (Dragonens Hjaerte-sorg). Sung by Mrs. Anna Munch (as above), Oct. 8, 1927. Gathered by E. T. Kristensen, Statsskovrider P. Lorenzen and P. A. Grainger. [See Mus. Exam. 10B.]
"HUSBAND AND WIFE (Manden og Konen) (a quarreling-duet). Sung by Jens Christian Jensen, of Albaek, Herning, Jutland, on August 16, 1922. Gathered by E. T. Kristensen, Konservator H. P. Hansen and P. A. Grainger. [See Mus. Exam. 10C.]
"THE SHOEMAKER FROM JERUSALEM (Jerusalema Skomager) (a religious song). Sung by Mrs. Evald Tang Kristensen (maiden name: Kirsten Marie Jensen Hus), of Mølholm, Vejle, Jutland, on August 27, 1922. Gathered by E. T. Kristensen and P. A. Grainger. [See Mus. Exam. 10D.]
"LORD PETER'S STABLE-BOY (Herr Peders Stalddreng). Sung by Copper-smith Michael Poulsen, of Vejle, Jutland, on August 17, 1922. Gathered by E. T. Kristensen and P. A. Grainger. [See Mus. Exam. 10E.]
"In 1905 I met Hjalmar Thuren (whose masterly work Folkesangen paa Faerørne, Copenhagen, 1908, showed forth to the outer world, for the first time, the great richness and manifoldness of the folk-music of the Faeroe Islanders) and asked him to what printed score I should turn to get to know Danish folk-song in its full selfhood. He answered: 'Evald Tang Kristensen seems to me the folk-song gatherer who best has known how to keep alive, in his notings-down, those rhythmic unregularnesses, personal oddnesses and old-time modal folk-scales that mean so much in the songs of the Danish country-folk. He was the only one in the [eighteen] sixties--when a great wealth of folk-song could still be harvested from the unlettered folk in this land--who was brave enough and sharp enough of hearing to note down the old songs as they really were sung to him by the old singers without "watering" them to suit the right-deemings of art-musicians.'
"Whereupon I studied Evald Tang Kristensen's folk-song books Jydske Folkeviser og Toner (Copenhagen, 1871), Gamle jydske Folkeviser (Copenhagen, 1876), Hundrede gamle jydske Folkeviser (Copenhagen, 1889), Gamle Viser i Folkemunde (Copenhagen, 1891) and Et Hundrede gamle danske Skjaemteviser (Aarhus, 1901), and soon came to rate their writer as the greatest genius known to me amongst folk-song gatherers anywhere in the world. None other seemed to me to have delved as d eep as he to the very roots of folk-music--to have held as dear as he its every shade of feeling from wistful purity to rankest coarseness; none other seemed to have foreseen as clearly as he how endlessly much even the last leavings of this dying art were to mean to later ages, none as untiring as he in his truly giant-like powers of work of every kind, none as unyieldingly truthful at all times as he.
"When Evald Tang Kristensen and I fared together thru Jutland in 1922, 1925 and 1927 to gather the sparse aftermath of folk-music that still might be culled in some few spots (and above all to study by means of the phonograph the singing-wonts of the true folk-singers) the phonograph (which does not lie!) made two facts stand out very clearly: firstly, how very true to nature Evald Tang Kristensen's notings-down had been from the very start; secondly, how uncalled-for and knowledge-less had been the b elittlings of his musical notings-down by those Danish folk-song 'connoisseurs' of the seventies who dubbed as `wrongly noted' those very traits in his melodies that were most strikingly typical of the middle ages and of the Danish country-side, and hence of rarest worth. Again and again I have heard tunes from our newly-taken phonograms that follow almost note for note the folk-song books before I was born--and this in spite of the fact that over fifty years lie between the two gatherings and that the singers were in no case the same!
"I feel that it is now high time that some of the very many lovely songs that Evald Tang Kristensen (who fills his 85th year today) has saved from forgottenness should be put within reach of music-lovers in forms fitted for home-music and the concert- hall.--[P. A. G.,] January 24, 1928."
Danish Folk-Music Settings No. 8
"The basic minimum for Jutish Medley, a collection of Danish folk-songs, is three pianists at two pianos. The songs in order of appearance are 'Choosing the Bride', 'The Dragoon's Farewell', 'The Shoemaker from Jerusalem' and 'Husband and Wife' (a quarrelling duet). Following the last-named tune, Grainger returns to the first and includes an ingenious combination of the two before a joyous coda."--David Stanhope (Piano 3).
"[In 1897, when Grainger was 15, Grainger's father John] sent his son a patriotic book called Deeds that won the Empire and several Kipling books. The latter captivated Percy immediately and he soon started writing choral settings of Kipling's poems, especially those of the Jungle Books. Grainger wrote of these pieces:
In these, above all The Beach of Lukannon, I developed my mature harmonic style--that is to say, harmony in unresolved discords. To the best of my knowledge, such a procedure was unknown at that time & must be considered as an Australian contribution to musical progress. So through the books my father sent me in 1897, I became what I have remained ever since, a composer whose musical output is based on patriotism & racial consciousness.
"Grainger was to occupy himself with Kipling settings on and off for the rest of his life. He was constantly adding to and revising them, so that when eleven of them were published for the first time as a cycle, in 1947, they represented a whole life of compositional activity--very much in the way the Songs of Travel did for Vaughan Williams. When Grainger published a work of his in later years, he often added a long and informative programme note. The programme notes for these settings, how ever, which take just over nineteen minutes to perform, simply state: 'My KIPLING "JUNGLE BOOK" CYCLE, begun in 1898 and finished in 1947, was composed as a protest against civilization.' The quintessence of his harmonic and polyphonic idea s can be found within the pages of these works. Though they form a major contribution to twentieth-century choral music they are rarely if ever performed today."--John Bird (Grainger).
"It was the composer Ronald Stevenson who first referred to Percy Grainger as Music's Mowgli. A totally appropriate description, for not only does Grainger's music breathe the fresh, invigorating air of the country garden but time and again the listener is confronted with the mysterious claim made on us by the wilderness. It is apt too because it speaks of the unrepressed boyishness, the bold curiosity and the no-nonsense attitudes so characteristic of this antipodean individualist. Even in his own Country Garden, Grainger pulls us firmly to earth by asking us to think of turnips and mangel-wurzels rather than the serried ranks of petunias and gladioli. His masterpiece for wind-band, Lincolnshire Posy, is, after all, a 'bunch of musical wildflowers' rather than their cultivated brethren. The Mowgli theme also remains valid in Grainger the man, for he was never happier than when pitting himself against the unyielding Australian desert, the dank Tahitian forest or the remote high hills of Scotland and Norway. Kipling's Jungle Book can be regarded as a tragedy--the tale of a wild boy forging his personality out of a wilful rejection of civilisation and a grappling with the untamed elements of the forest. Grainger's mind was a tabula rasa largely unfettered by formal schooling, yet he tackled life and his art with a burning intellectual curiosity and an iconoclastic fervour turned against anything remotely 'arty' in music. It is perfectly consistent within his own complex personality that his masterly choral settings of Kipling's Jungle Book poems should be 'composed as a protest against civilization.'"--John Bird (Rambles).
"In 1898, while a student in Frankfurt, Grainger had begun his extended Kipling Jungle Book Cycle. He referred to these pieces as being scored for 'large chamber music'. They consisted of eight to twenty-five solo performers providing instrumental backgrounds for single voices or a small chorus. The basis for this type of orchestration was later explained by Grainger in a letter to the pianist-composer, Harold Bauer.
...the music Kipling Settings which I send you separately, hoping that it may interest you as an outcome of the influence emanating from the vocal-solo numbers-with-accompaniment-of-solo-instruments in Bach's Matthew Passion, as I heard it when a boy of 12, 13, 14 in Frankfurt. These sounds (2 flutes and harpsichord and mixed chorus accompanying a solo voice) sounded so exquisite to my ears (so much more seemly than a full orchestra accompanying a single voice) that I became convinced th at larger chamber music (from 8-25 performers) was, for me, an ideal background for single voices or a small chorus. On this assumption (all rooted clearly in Bach's procedures) I began my 'Kipling Jungle Book Cycle' in 1898 and such compositions as `Love Verses from the Song of Solomon' in 1899.
"This attempt at scoring for smaller instrumental groups which would perform in smaller concert halls was vividly demonstrated on April 26th and May 3rd of 1925 when Grainger produced two evenings of 'Room Music' at the Little Theater, 238 West 44th S treet, in New York City.
"The first evening was an all-Grainger Program including English Dance (6 hands at two pianos), Hill Song No. 1 in its revision for chamber orchestra, seven settings from the Jungle Book Cycle, My Robin is to the Greenwood Gone (flute, English horn and 6 strings), and Scotch Strathspey and Reel.
"The second evening featured Franz Schreker's Kammersymphonie, Negro Folk-Song Derivatives of R. Nathaniel Dett, Memories of New Mexico by Natalie Curtis, Lost in the Hills of Edvard Grieg, and Paul Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 1.... All works were presented in their original form--a rather unique production which was enthusiastically applauded by the capacity audience."--Thomas C. Slattery.
"Grainger produced a significant part of his output for chorus. His two major sources of inspiration were folksong and the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.... As a youngster raised in Australia with little formal schooling, he was never fully at e ase in refined social circles. 'My Kipling Jungle Book Cycle,' he explained..., 'was composed as a protest against civilisation.'
Composition was a struggle for Grainger. Though white-hot inspiration often flowed in sudden bursts of activity, it was usually followed by years of intermittent tinkering with his manuscripts. Three Kipling settings all bear witness to his cons tant desire to improve and perfect: Danny Deever (1903/22/24), The Peora Hunt (1901/06/41/58), Morning Song in the Jungle (1905), the latter two incorporated in his Jungle Book Cycle, initially performed in 1942 and 'finished' in 1947."--David Tall.
Klavierstuck in E (1897)
3 Klavierstücke in A, Bb, D (1897-98)
"The Klavierstuck [piano piece] in E Major was written in 1897 as a birthday gift for Grainger's mother. Here the influences are clear--the lighter piano works of Schumann and Brahms being the main source of inspiration....
"The [other] early Klavierstücke date from 1897-98. The one in A Minor is perhaps the most interesting, with its heroic, Brahmsian main theme constantly undermined by mysterious interruptions and tonal side-steps. Sadly, the Bb Major piece is incomplete--the first page has vanished and the surviving fragment begins at what appears to be the central episode of a ternary form composition. The final D Major Klavierstuck is interesting for extramusical reasons. It is dedicated to Grainger's father--a rather shadowy figure whom Grainger's domineering mother kicked out of the house when Percy was a boy and who then lived a wayward existence dying in 1917, paralysed by the effects of long-term alcoholism and tertiary syphillis."--John Pickard (Piano 4).
[Edition published by Schott & Co., 1918. (Ed.)]
British Folk-Music Settings Nr. 18
Grainger: "For Howard Brockway, in admiration. Folk-song collected in Lincolnshire, England, in 1906. Set Feb. 8-9-10, 1918.
"[Headnote:] Gently but skittishly."
"Knight and Shepherd's Daughter is a setting of a rustic Lincolnshire song collected by Grainger himself in 1906, dedicated to [the American composer and folksong specialist] Howard Brockway, whose arrangements of American cowboy song s Grainger often played. There are two particularly beautiful variations where one is left to imagine the melody over harped chords."--Leslie Howard (Piano 1).
[Publ. by G. Schirmer, 1925. Piano I can be used without Piano II for chorus rehearsals.]
Grainger: "Scots Border Ballad. Folk-poem from Sir Walter Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. Composed Dec. 5-20, 1904 in London. Vocal and piano score as birthday-gift, in memory of my beloved mother, July 3, 1925, Chicago.
"No folk-songs or other traditional musical material are used in this composition.
"Where the arrangement for 2 pianos is used in concert performances to replace the orchestra each piano part can be doubled or trebled, especially in large halls and with a large chorus; thus 4 pianists at 4 pianos, or 6 pianists at 6 pianos, can be u sed with effect. The tonal result of doubling pianos is a greater mellowness of tone--rather than an increase in more volume. In any case the pianists (whether 2, 4 or 6) must be trained to follow the conductor's beat exactly (which piani sts are seldom able to do, at first). To ensure this the conductor should rehearse the 2 (or more) pianists separately from the chorus, as well as with the chorus."
"Like it's companion piece, the Children's March [above], this brilliant march was much ahead of its time in its demands of balance, blend, technique, and particularly tonal strength in the low reeds. Completed in 1905, it was Grainger's earlie st work for full band, but was not published until 1941. A note in the published score includes the following information: 'No folk-songs or other traditional tunes of any kind are used in the work, which is based on melodies and musical material written by Grainger in his setting for male chorus and orchestra or two pianos... of a Scottish Border Ballad text... drawn from Sir Walter Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.... In this march the composer has wished to express the devil-may-care da re-deviltry of the cattle-raiding, swashbuckling English and Scottish 'borderers' of the period (roughly the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries) so grimly yet thrillingly portrayed in the border ballads collected and published by Scott, Motherwell, Jamieson, Johnson, Buchan, Kinloch, Swinburne, and others.'"--Frank Hudson.
"Grainger's association with bands stemmed from his early days in London, when, in 1905, Grainger was able to hear one of the first performances of his compositions by the Coldstream Guards. Later Grainger was to play in bands himself, when he became a saxophonist in the Fort Dix, New Jersey, Army Band during World War II. In December 1936, Grainger received a letter from the American Bandmasters Association offering him a commission for two band works to be performed at their annual convent ion. He responded by rearranging the Lads of Wamphray and by compiling a suite of Lincolnshire folk songs that he had collected. The latter work, which he entitled Lincolnshire Posy [below], featured irregular and 'free' rhythms, and rich so norities."--Major James M. Bankhead.
"This was originally written for men's chorus and two pianos, but soon after this setting Grainger embarked on a band version (his first work for wind band). Over 30 years later, he subjected it to considerable revision and presented it (along with Lincolnshire Posy) as the product of his commission from the A.B.A. for their 1937 convention. Though it is perhaps somewhat repetitious and indulges in the frequent use of short sequential patterns, it again reveals Grainger's mastery of t he band medium and the contrapuntal textures and rhythmic vigor which are so characteristic of his style. Requires great technical fluency in all parts, and tonal maturity and control, especially in fully-scored passages."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2 ).
Grainger (Barstow CA, Feb. 21, 1946): "PROGRAM-NOTE The Faeroe Islands lie between the Shetland Islands and Iceland. The Faeroe Islanders are the descendants of those West-Norwegian sea-rovers who, in the 9th century, settled the land s 'west over sea': Iceland, the Faeroes, the Shetlands, the Orkneys, the Hebrides and the coasts and islands around Scotland and Ireland. The Faeroe Islanders are famous for their good looks, their highly becoming national costumes, their daring as cliff- scaling egg-gatherers and their passion for dancing. The language is closely akin to Icelandic (Old Norse) and folk songs of many periods abound in the islands. Until quite recently no musical instruments (not even organs and harmoniums in churches) were known on the Faeroes. So the music accompanying the dance was narrative dance-folksong--dance-tunes sung by voices instead of played on instruments. Long rimed stories about legendary and historical figures and groups--the Volsungs, the Nibelungs, S iegfried (Sjurdur), Charlemagne, Roland, Attila, Tristram, Nornagest, etc.--as well as versified excerpts from the Icelandic sagas were chanted by a single voice (foresinger) answered by symbollically significant refrains (such as the title of this num ber) sung by a chorus--in unison, without harmonies of any kind.
"In most of those European countries where folksongs still are sung, the songs have been divorced from dancing and have tended, on that account, to lose their strict rhythmic patterns. But on the Faeroes the tunes have retained their original clear-cu t rhythmic shapes thru unbroken association with the conservatively preserved steps and figures of the dances.
"Some students of folksong believe that most European folksongs were originally dance-folksongs, and that a main purpose of the folkdancing was similar to that of the dancing of the Dancing Dervishes--to promote, by means of constantly repea ted dance-motions and melodic phrases, group-frenzy of a religious, or erotic, or warlike character. Such students believe that the folk-dance draws its intoxicating appeal from the mesmeric quality dwelling in constant repetition and unbroken continuity. This orgiastic note is clearly struck in the dancing and singing habits of the Faeroe Islanders, who dance for eight hours or more at a stretch and who set their pride in having one dance follow another with the very next footfall, one dance-song follow another with the very next beat. (This attitude is mirrored in my setting of Let's dance gay in Green Meadow, which does not end with the finality usual to most modern compositions, but just stops abruptly in mid-dance, ready to be succeeded immedi ately by another dance.)
"That the Faeroe Island narrative songs often run into two hundred or more verses is another factor making for tireless keeping-on-ness.[See also Grainger's notes for Green Bushes, above. (Ed.)] It seems to me that this mesmeric frenzy should be captured in any harmonized versions of such dance-folksongs, and this is what I strive to do in my settings of them. Those who describe my dance-folksong settings as examples of 'variation-form' overlook the fact that the variation-form is rooted in type-contrasts between one variation and another and in the clearly-defined beginnings and endings of sectional forms; whereas my dance-folksong settings aim at giving an impression of large-size continuity and unbroken form-flow--with readiness on my p art to welcome whatever monotony may result from this my method.
"The Faeroe Island dance songs show the original way of dealing, musically, with 7-foot verse--turning it quite straightforwardly into 7-beat music. This differs from the habits of recent centuries, in which 7-foot-verse is transformed into 8-beat music by dwelling for 2 beats on each 7th foot of the verse. By this procedure both 7-foot and 8-foot verse are levelled into one great uniformity of 8-beat rhythm. Thus, in comparing the song tupes of the middle ages with those of more recent periods we are apt to be confronted with the following tendencies: In the middle ages, irregularity paired with continuity. In recent centuries, uniformity coupled with the intermittancy of sectional forms. The medieval dance-folksongs may be likened to those unbrok en strings of all-alike workmen's dwellings that adorn the climbing streets of many a factory town in England, while modern sectional song (whether folksong or art-song) may be compared to the semi-detachment of suburban villas."
[See also edition for piano/4 hands as Faeroe Island Dance (Let's Dance Gay in Green Meadow; 'Neath the Mould Shall Never Dancer's Tread Go), "Faeroe Island Dance-Folksong collected by Hjalmar Thuren", publ. by Faber Music Ltd. (U.S. selling agent G. Schirmer), 1967. This edition ("set for one piano twosome") is supertitled "Settings of Dance-Folksongs from the Faeroe Islands", with headnote "Fast". Faber Music adds: "The publishers are grateful to Mr. Benjamin Britten who was good enough to see the work through the press." (Ed.)]
Let's Dance Gay in Green Meadow is a setting of a dance folksong from the Faeroe Islands. Grainger is well known for his kinship with folk tunes, particularly of English derivation; he was one of the first to use a wax cylinder phonograph as h e combed the British Isles recording over 500 British folksongs.
"Grainger rebelled against the formal tradition of notating musical directions in Italian or German and began employing his own distinctive English, for example, 'jumpingly', 'roughly', 'bass much to the fore', 'don't slow off', etc. There is a note i n 'Let's Dance Gay' to the 'right side player': 'The high D with a star is not on the piano. For convenience, play this note on the wood to right of keyboard.'
"The title page informs us that 'Let's Dance Gay' was 'originally sketched for chorus, 1905, sketched for harmonium, 1932, dished up for twosome at one piano Sept. 20-21, 1943.' At the bottom of the last page one reads, 'New clean copy written out Feb . 21-23, 1946, Beacon Tavern (room 118), Barstow, California.'"--Carolyn Morgan.
Faeroe Island Dance [finished February 21, 1946] is taken from the native folk-music heritage of the Faeroe Islands of the North Atlantic Ocean. On Sundays there were two locations in the town where the local villagers danced. In one area there were the Faeroe Dances and in the other the members of the Torshavn Wind Orchestra played the Tyrolean waltz, Swedish masquerade, Rhinelander, Mazurka, and other waltzes and polkas for the village. Dancing to instrumental music in these island s dates back to the 17th century. [This piece is dedicated to the memory of Grainger's friend, the great portrait painter John Singer Sargent, who loved the Faeroe Island music.]"--James Westbrook.
"An unusual, rather
austere and primitive work in moderate tempo, this is based upon a
Danish folk-dance tune which Grainger collected in 1905. The abrupt
ending is typical of the dance-tunes themselves, which are performed
connected to one another. Hence this work is more satisfactory in
performance if it is connected to another such as Shepherd's Hey
or Molly on the Shore."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).