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Percy Grainger (1882 - 1961)


Londonderry Air

Percy Grainger was born near Melbourne, Australia. He was a child prodigy, making his first public appearance at the age of ten. He studied in Britain and Germany, but eventually settled in the USA. He became an American citizen, and was married to a Swedish poetess in a ceremony at the Hollywood Bowl before an audience of 20,000 people for whose delectation and delight he conducted a bridal march he had composed for the occasion. He founded a museum in Melbourne, Australia, modestly calling it The "Grainger Museum". He bequeathed to the museum his own skeleton "for preservation and possible display".

A close friend of Grieg and Delius, he was much influenced by folk music. His works rarely set real folk tunes, just sound as if they do, even in the titles (Shepherds' Hey, Molly on the Shore, etc.). His Irish tune from County Derry, a real folk tune, of course dates from 1927.

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