• Composer of the Week:   Percy Grainger

    Grainger Percy Grainger was a 20th century composer who was born in 1882.   Grainger was born in near Melbourne, Australia.   As a boy he was mostly homeschooled, as he was bullied severely when enrolled in school.  His mother directed most of his education.  He studied music, art and drama from a young age, and became a very accomplished pianist.   He also showed an interest in composition early on, writing his first piano piece at the age of 11. 

    As a young adult, Grainger moved to Frankfurt, Germany.   He became a piano teacher and performer.  There, he became friends with several British students.   By 1902, he had moved to London, England to perform and teach.  As a composer, he was also interested in “saving” British music from what he saw as negative features in other European music.   He became very interested in British and Irish folk songs (older songs that represent a nation’s culture and history).   In fact, these melodies became the major part of the compositions he wrote for concert bands over his lifetime. 

    After World War I broke out in 1914, Grainger left London for America.   It was after this move that Grainger became truly famous as a composer and pianist.  He wrote pieces for band and orchestra, but also continued to perform in up to 120 concerts per year!  He was also an unusual character with odd personal habits.  One of these included refusing to sleep in a hotel because he liked to sleep outside (he actually slept in an alley one night in New York).   He traveled around the world performing and teaching until his death in 1961.   His most famous pieces include Lincolnshire Posy, Shepherd’s Hey, Irish Tune from County Derry, Over the Hills and Far Away (Children’s March) and Molly on the Shore.   




    Map of Melbourne, Australia 

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