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Now that the Guestbook section has had time to age, more obscure composers are getting some attention. I don't view Grainger as obscure in popularity, as perhaps in style or personality. Many of you may know him as that crazy soprano sax player (the Australian one, not the one whose albums fill the department store shelves adjacent to the potpourri and scented candles).

My knowledge of Grainger stems from my experience in HS band. Probably the best (and most accessible) piece I ever recall playing was Country Gardens. There are a host of others that are great fun to hear: Youthful Suite, Shepherd's Hey, Molly on the Shore...just to name a few. If you know of others, share those. Or, maybe your experiences performing any of them. :p
 

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I love the music of Grainger. He has written big works - 'The Warriors', experimental works - the pieces for four theremins, and miniatures - the many wonderful songs. I think he is still underestimated as a composer, and I wish people were familiar with more of his music. Many of the pieces he arranged have become popularised, and the popular versions are invariably inferior to the original, sometimes strikingly. 'Country Gardens' is a good example, where Grainger's original arrangement for piano is fast and aggressive. And the 'Irish Tune from County Derry' is amazing - we are all familiar with 'Danny Boy' as a rather hackneyed piece of popular culture, but Grainger's original version of this piece can still bring tears to the eyes.
 

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Look at this abysmal appreciation thread! My Australian partner has pestered me to become more familiar with Grainger lately, and I'm glad he has. Perhaps you lovely folks could share some of your favourites?

I haven't listened to much, but I'm a fan of this, especially because of the fun orchestration (brought out best in the Rattle/CBSO recording):


And this is the absolute greatest thing you could ever listen to while out and about walking around:

 

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Grainger studied Grieg's piano concerto first with James Kwast in 1901 and then with Grieg in Troldhaugen in 1907. The intention was that they would perform it together at the UK's Leeds Festival in that year. Unfortunately Grieg's demise circumvented things somewhat. But Grainger carried on and played the concerto after which the famous critic Ernest Newman said he considered it the greatest performance that he had heard. Grainger went on to perform it with,among other, Bodansky, Arthur Damrosch, Ossip Gabrilowitsh, Mengelberg, Richter, Siloti, Stokowski and Henry Wood.
He made a piano roll including the orchestral parts for the Aeolian Co's Duo Art reproducing piano which was issued in 1921. Later the orchestral parts were painstakingly removed and the Australian Broadcasting Commission recorded the concerto with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under John Hopkins, this was released by RCA in 1978. it is a big and virtuosic performance , Grainger does certain things which I suppose are looked upon as old fashioned now. But I often wonder who says so as Grieg apparently thought it was pretty good. On the other side of this LP you have Grainger favourites conducted by Stokowski with Grainger, piano, recorded in 1950. I have found that piano rolls when played through a Vorsetzer, which is a robot with fingers and pedals and allows for all nuances give a true picture ot the original artist . But the machines must have been properly maintained and checked out by experts.
 

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When I visited Melbourne during the summer, I had the privilege of going to the music library at Melbourne University and looking first-hand at some of Grainger's hand-written notes. A lot of it consisted of records of his piano students, and there was one that was particularly amusing - unfortunately, I can't remember the exact words, but he was commenting on some girl with a stereotypically Southern U.S. name, calling her a "wonder child" in the most scathingly sarcastic way!
 

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Re: Children's March :
And this is the absolute greatest thing you could ever listen to while out and about walking around:
Oh, that is delightful! So much that I just purchased it with some other pieces on a Mercury Living Presence recording. Definitely goes in the 'walking music' playlist. Also great for doing housework. ;)
 

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Percy Grainger’s hit “Country Gardens” was a Mother’s Day gift, with the score dated this day, July 3, 1918. Well, we won’t go into Percy’s relationship with his mother… The piece made up a substantial part of Grainger’s income until his death in 1961, though he was a bit resentful of its popularity.

"The typical English country garden is not often used to grow flowers. It's more likely to be a vegetable plot. So you can think of turnips as I play it".
 

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I am Australian but had always (when much younger) been dubious of Grainger, what with "Country Gardens" and all (What a snob!). But then when I joined the Australian Wind Orchestra and we did both "Lincolnshire Posy" and "Marching Song of Democracy" I was immediately won over. His arranging style is fascinating and utterly unique. Listen carefully to "Lord Melbourne" posted above by Gordontrek (thanks!) and you may hear what I mean. The Simon Rattle album mentioned by Polednice is also an excellent place to start and Rattle seems to genuinely relish Grainger's 'weirdness'. Grainger's Debussy and Ravel arrangements on that album are wonderful, too.

Probably my two favourite Grainger pieces are the "Horkstow Grange" from "Lincolnshire Posy" and the folk song "Shallow Brown", as 'dished up' for baritone, winds, harmonium and guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles.

Grainger's use of English in his scores is noteworthy. He referred to making arrangements as 'dishing up' (as in serving). In his music he used terms like 'clingingly' for sostenuto or 'to the fore' instead of solo or en dehors. His reasons for doing so unfortunately nod toward the less pleasant side of his beliefs.

Train Nature Yellow Font Vehicle
Plant Vertebrate Ecoregion Botany Natural environment
 

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Back in the days when I ran regularly, Grainger's Handel in The Strand was a useful piece to hum in order to get a good rhythm going.
More seriously, I think he is under-rated as an innovator. His many folk song arrangements are distinctive and use unexpected instrumentation to good effect. If you can find a recording, Hill Song no.2 is worth a listen. And Peter Pears singing Grainger's setting of Brigg Fair was never better.
 

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I am Australian but had always (when much younger) been dubious of Grainger, what with "Country Gardens" and all (What a snob!). But then when I joined the Australian Wind Orchestra and we did both "Lincolnshire Posy" and "Marching Song of Democracy" I was immediately won over. His arranging style is fascinating and utterly unique. Listen carefully to "Lord Melbourne" posted above by Gordontrek (thanks!) and you may hear what I mean.
You're quite welcome- I too was taken aback by the sheer brilliance of his arranging styles. Much of Lincolnshire Posy is meant to imitate a bunch people singing in a drunken swoon- and it really works. End of the third movement, for example.
For those that might not be aware, much of the Lord Melbourne movement of Lincolnshire has no time signature or barlines. The brass chords at the start, for example, are marked in "free time," meaning there is no meter, and the conductor cues in each chord individually. It's meant to imitate surly people haphazardly belting out the song in a pub somewhere.
Check these out....Grainger made these recordings of his friends singing the tunes he later used for Lincolnshire. Some of them are completely sloshed!
 

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In some other threads there has been some discussion on whether or not Granger was an Australian composer. Some consider him an American since he spent most of his life as an American citizen. Others consider him British because of his association with the English folksong movement.

Based on everything I have read it appears to me that he is Australian.

I found the following lecture where a British musicologist make the case that he is an Australian composer:
 
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