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George Percy Aldridge Grainger

George Percy Aldridge Grainger

Country of origin: Australia
Birthday: July 8, 1882
Date of death: February 20, 1961

Upcoming Performances

Shepherd's Hey
June 21, 2024 | Haye-on-Wye (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) , The Castle
Lincolnshire Posy
Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
Orchestra: Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
July 7, 2024 | Munich (Germany) , Showpalast München

About George Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger was born on 8 July 1882 in Brighton, Victoria (Australia), to the renowned architect John H. Grainger. His musical talent showed when he was only a young boy. Aged twelve, he went on his first concert tour as a pianist. In 1895, he travelled to Europe where he studied piano and composition at the Dr. Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt for four years.

Between 1901 and 1914 he lived in London, where he gradually gained fame as a composer and piano virtuoso. His co-operation with Schott started in 1911, when the increasing recognition of his works manifested itself through performances in London Queen's Hall and the Aeolien Hall, for instance. In these days his friendship with the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg developed. Grieg's devotion to the music of his country inspired Grainger to occupy himself with English folk music. With a phonograph he collected numerous examples of English folk music, which he later linked into his own compositions. Also, in these days, his close friendships with composers like Frederic Delius, Cyril Scott or with personalities of English music life like Herman Sanby and Balfour Gardiner developed.

In 1914, Grainger and his mother moved to the United States, where he lived until his death. Although he always saw and called himself an Australian, he became an American citizen and, for a short time, a member of the US Army Bands.

After the First World War Grainger continued his concert tours and lectures, which also led him back to Australia from time to time. In the 1930's he laid the foundation stone of the Grainger Museum at Melbourne University. In 1928, he married the Swedish artist Ella Viola Strom. Grainger also increasingly dedicated himself to the research and the publication of medieval music and the music of foreign cultures. Towards the end of his life, he worked on methods of carrying out "free music", i.e. music without any restrictions of time or determined intervals. Together with scientist Burnett Cross he developed the so-called "Free Music Machines", which were the predecessors of modern electronic synthesizers.

Percy Alridge Grainger died on 20 February 1961 in New York and was buried in his family's grave in Adelaide, South Australia.

The International Percy Grainger Society



Born on 8 July 1882 in Brighton, near Melbourne
Moves to Melbourne. Starts taking daily piano lessons
His family leaves the family after a voyage to London
Studies piano with Louis Pabst
Briefly attends school (his only formal schooling). Gives first public piano recital
Moves to Europe to continue studies in piano and composition at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt

Begins his Kipling 'Jungle Book' Cycle composed 'as a protest against civilization'

Starts to compose the five works (completed in 1901, later revised) eventually published in 1950 as Youthful Suite; begins to teach piano in Frankfurt
Moves to London, where he soon starts performing
Completes Youthful Rapture (originally A Lot of Rot) and Love Verses from 'The Song of Solomon'; commences Marching Song of Democracy, inspired by Whitman
First studies the music of Debussy.
Arranges Irish Tune from County Derry for unaccompanied mixed chorus; completes initial setting of Hill Song No. 1
Meets and plays before Ferruccio Busoni, in London, who offers to teach him without charge.  Subsequently studies with Busoni in Berlin.
Hears Lucy Broadwood's lecture about collecting folksongs, which rekindles his earlier interest in folk music; joins the Folk-Song Society and begins collecting Lincolnshire folk tunes.
Meets Edvard Grief, initiating a close friendship.
First uses phonograph to record folksongs.
Meets Delius in London.
Sets Molly on the Shore for string quartet
Meets Debussy, whom he finds 'a little spitting wild animal'
His controversial 100-page article 'Collecting with the Phonograph' appears in the Journal of the Folk-Song Society; makes the first gramphone recordings of short passages by Grieg, Liszt and Stanford.
Comes in contact with Polynesian music, in New Zealand, and claims the South Seas as a potential 'second Scandinavia' for him musically.
Completes Father and Daughter setting of Faroe Islands music.
Meets Richard Strauss in London, who programmes some of Grainger's pieces in Germany in 1911.
Comes to know Elgar, Beecham and Rodin.
Changes his professional name to Percy Aldridge Grainger.
Completes initial setting of Shepherd's Hey.
Schott (London) starts to publish his compositions.
English Dance is premièred in London by Beecham; visits an ethnographic museum in Leiden, Holland, where his interest in south-east Asian percussion instruments is aroused. Completes Handel in the Strand.
Conducts Shepherd’s Hey and Irish Tune at a Promenade concert in London.
Moves from London to Kent, then to USA amid accusations of cowardice and failure to face up to his patriotic duty.
Première of In a Nutshell orchestral suite.
Completes The Warriors: Music to an Imaginary Ballet, dedicated to Delius.
His father dies in Melbourne.
Joins US army as a military musician.
Becomes an American citizen.
Completes Country Gardens, based on a Morris Dance tune collected by Cecil Sharp.
Completes Children’s March: Over the Hills and Far Away, for band.
Discharged from the US Army
First attempts at ‘elastic scoring’ with an arrangement of Irish Tune.
Undertakes long concert tours of the American Far West.
>Moves to 7 Cromwell Place, White Plains, New York (now The Grainger Library)
Rescores a number of his early works.
Mother commits suicide in New York; many sensational press reports follow. 
Première of The Bride’s Tragedyat Evanston Festival.
Travels to Scandinavia to collect Danish folk music.
Marries Ella
Première of To a Nordic Princess.
Completes initial setting of his Danish Folk-Music Suite.
Writes Preface to Spoon River, outlining his views on ‘elastic scoring’ and orchestration in general.
Takes first steps towards building a museum at the University of Melbourne.
Takes a teaching post at New York University.
Learns of the death of Delius, a long time friend. 
Premiere of experimental Free Music No. 1
Writes Lincolnshire Posy.
Appears in concert before President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House.
Official opening of the Grainger Museum in Melbourne.
Completes ‘The Duke of Marlborough’ Fanfare, subtitled ‘British War Mood Grows’, and The Immovable Do. 
Begins glossary of his ‘Nordic English’.
Move temporarily to Springfield, Missouri, as a war-time base.
Travels widely giving many concerts for the Red Cross and troops (to 1945).
Première of his Kipling ‘Jungle Book’ Cycle (incomplete).
Completes orchestral version of The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart.
Comes to know the scientist Burnett Cross, with whom he soon starts to work on his ‘Free Music’ experiments.
Collaborates with Stokowski in Hollywood Bowl performance of Grieg piano concerto, In a Nutshell suite and Suite on Danish Folk Songs.
Première of Youthful Suite.
Last formal concert tour in America.
Performs Danish Folk Music Suite at a Promenade Concert in London.
Awarded St Olav medal for services to Norwegian music by the King of Norway.
Returns to work at his museum in Melbourne, returning to the United States in June 1956.
Health starts to decline.
Meets Benjamin Britten in the UK and Stockhausen in New York.
Undertakes final work on ‘Free Music’ machines.
Dies in White Plains, NY. Buried in Adelaide.



Set Descending Direction
  • Shepherd's Hey
    June 21, 2024 | Haye-on-Wye (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) , The Castle
    Performance of arrangement by Robertson for brass quartet.
  • Lincolnshire Posy
    Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
    Orchestra: Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
    July 7, 2024 | Munich (Germany) , Showpalast München
  • The Young Pianist's Solo Album
    October 7, 2024 | Queenstown (New Zealand) , Te Atamira
    Performance of Walking Tune, Spoon River and Shepherd’s Hey only.
  • Molly on the Shore
    October 12, 2024 | Wanaka (New Zealand) , Rippon
    Exact soloists N.N.
  • Molly on the Shore
    Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
    December 11, 2024 | Liverpool (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) , The Tung Auditorium
  • Set Descending Direction