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  • 09/23/2021 11:20 AM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)


    Following is an excerpt from “The Power of Place: The Percy Grainger Home and Studio” by Susan Edwards Colson, recently published in The Grainger Journal, Volume 17, Number 1. Print and digital copies of the journal are distributed free of charge to members of the Percy Grainger Society. Non-members may purchase individual print copies via our distributor, Lulu.com. Please consider joining as a member!

    Percy Grainger made news in 1921 [1]when bought he a house in White Plains.  He, and his mother, Rose, had arrived at Boston harbor, via the ship Laconia, on September 14, 1914. They left London in haste, putting their furnishings in storage.  After arriving they immediately traveled south by train to New York City, becoming residents of one New York City rental or the next for the seven more years. During this time, Percy first established himself as a pianist extraordinaire, followed with a brief tour as a bandsman in the US army.  But they could not accommodate their London belongings, and truly settle in, until they had the space and permanency of a home.

    After seven years, they certainly understood that the greater New York area offered an overwhelming choice of residences and lifestyles. There is the island of Manhattan itself, in the 1920’s as today, the hub of a thriving music and art scene, as well as four (huge) surrounding boroughs that comprise New York City proper.  There was suburban Long Island to the east, suburban Westchester County to the north, and the entire state of New Jersey to the west; with Connecticut to the Northeast. What to do?

    The Grainger’s chose White Plains, the county seat and near geographical center of Westchester County. White Plains offered quiet county living (including the physical space between houses to play piano twenty-four hours-per-day, if necessary, impossible in the city) punctuated with train service leading smoothly south to Manhattan in under thirty minutes. There were also easy train connections within a day to Cincinnati and Chicago.  Dallas? Los Angeles? Calgary?  A day or two more perhaps, but easily done.

    Grainger’s manager, Antonia Sawyer, herself a Westchester (Scarsdale) resident, was influential in this choice.  In 1931, Grainger was interviewed for a local newspaper column, “Our Famous Neighbors.” [2] When asked why he chose White Plains as his home he explained:

    When our musical instruments and furniture came over from London in 1921, White Plains was suggested to my mother by Antonia Sawyer (his manager) as a good place for the storage of musical instruments of which there are an endless array.  For instance, two harmoniums, about ten guitars, two metal marimbas, one wooden marimba, one staff bells, and several oriental and African instruments.

    Any suitable house had to be large, private, quiet, and well-located for travel.  Then, the selected house at 7 Cromwell Place, had to be organized. The shipment came over in early summer 1921, and Rose and Percy set about arranging it.  Rose sorted and labeled the keys.  Percy set up the music room.  Both of them enjoyed the large front porch, feeding the squirrels while having tea.

    When asked why the smallest room in the eleven-room house was chosen as the music room, Grainger replied “I like my music loud and close.” [3] As various house photos have shown over the years, this preference for “loud and close” was consistently observed in the music room, the first room to the left when a visitor arrives, with various pianos and an-ever-present harmonium showing up in photos over the years. The front bedrooms, with Rose in the larger, and Percy in the smaller, were selected and furnished in the style of the day.  Again, plenty of storage was necessary, the Grainger’s rapidly filled drawer after drawer. The basement and the third floor were for overflow storage. There were filled, with more added over the years.

    Early 20th Century White Plains 

    During the 1920s the city of White Plains was quickly transitioning into a desirable satellite suburb of New York City.  The New York, Westchester & Boston Railroad,[4] completed in the early years of the twentieth century, made New York City an easy commute from the leafy Westchester.  Following WWI, a group of community-spirted women organized a house-by-house canvas [5] to locate those who served in WWI (Percy Grainger had served as a bandsman).  Each name was entered onto a card file, in the White Plains City Archives. WWI veterans were honored with a monument installed that features an artillery rifle, bearing a simple dedication to soldiers, sailors and marines on its north face.

    White Plains is near the midpoint of Westchester County, both geographically and culturally. To the south, high rises and warehouses abound, resembling the Bronx.  Heading north, the land spreads gently out into small towns and estates.  Beyond White Plains, Westchester County was blossoming in the 1920s and 30s.  D. W. Griffith built and operated a movie studio complex on Orienta Point in nearby Mamaroneck.  [6] Mary Pickford, as well as Lillian and Dorothy Gish, were filmed there.  The Lawrence Family Theatre, a summer stock theater, opened on the Moses Taylor Estate in Mount Kisco. Tallulah Bankhead, Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullivan appeared in production there. 

    The Grainger House does not appear in 1900 Map of White Plains.  By 1910, residents were Charles and Mable Prigge, along with their three children, Charles, Jr., Jean, and Alan.  There was also a servant, Annie Pahockus.  With four bedrooms on the second floor, and three (for servants and storage) on the third floor, this configuration would be perfect for a family of five, plus the servant(s) necessary to manage a 2,600 square foot house. 

    Cromwell Place/Chester Avenue, only one block long, had nine parcels. There were three buildings among the five parcels on the Cromwell side:  A private residence at the corner of Cromwell/Boston-New York Post Road occupied the first three. Then, the Grainger home resided on on parcels 2 and 1A.  Parcel 1 was the formerly the grounds for the annex to the Keeley Institutes for Inebriates[7]. The Institute was founded in 1879, with a branch in rural White Plains.  Those seeking Dr. Leslie Keeley’s Gold Cure (a potion containing “a double chloride of gold containing old salts, alcohol, and morphine cannabis, suspended in colored water) included alcohol users plus “opium inebriates” and “morphine fiends.” Their original White Plains locations had overflowed capacity and so the institute added an annex on Cromwell Place.  The annex was closing by the time Percy and Rose arrived, but the large parcel of land it included allowed Percy to purchase an additional side lot.  The Grainger Home today has a large side yard resulting from this early parceling.

    Home Sweet Home, 7 Cromwell Place, 1921-79

    The house was Percy’s home base for more than half his life.  While he performed in many concerts and made many trips, he always returned to 7 Cromwell Place.  In 1930, Ella’s daughter, Elsie Fairfax, arrived at Percy’s urging[8].  In residence for many months in the early 1930’s, Elsie was a stenographer at Bush and Heartfield (an insurance agency) in White Plains. Her correspondence from that time remains in a suitcase in her room.  

    In the 1950s, as his health deteriorated, Percy began to stay closer to home. This allowed him to focus his considerable, but declining, energy on his free music machines.  He was gone early in 1961, and Ella Grainger was a widow.

    Ella Grainger has the distinction of residing at 7 Cromwell Place longer than anyone else.  She arrived in 1928 and died in 1979, making a record of fifty-one years.  During the 1960s, she was a member of the Victorian Society, and she hosted gathering of Society members.  There were many private visitors, and a few concerts. One such visitor was Dorothy Payne, a former student of Percy’s from the Chicago Music School, and a long-time friend.  After Ella’s death, the house slowly disintegrated into frightful condition.  For nearly forty years, it was only the occasional, hearty visitor who ventured into the musty, overfilled rooms.

    [1] The Daily Pantagraph, Bloomington, Indiana, June 9, 1921 edition, p 8

    [2] Keir, Alissa, “Our Famous Neighbors: Percy Grainger of White Plains” The Port Chester Daily Item, February 26, 1931, p. 3 

    [3] Keir, “Our Famous Neighbors” p. 3

    [4] Himmelfarb, Ben and Massena, Elaine, White Plains In the Twentieth Century, Arcadis Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina, 2019, p 32

    [5] Himmelfarb, Ben and Massena, Elaine, White Plains, p 31

    [6]Westchester County, New York, History 1920-1983: Westchester Comes of Age, 2021, www.westchestergov.com, 2021

    [7]  Larson, Erik, (2003). The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, Crown Publishing Company, a division of Penguin Random House, New York, New York, 2003

    [8] Grainger, Percy, Letter to Elsie Bristow, December 25, 1929. White Plains, New York. As reproduced in Simon, Robert, Percy Grainger, The Pictorial Biography, 1983, p. 71

  • 07/30/2021 9:23 AM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)

    By Bill Garlette

      • The first thing to remember is that Grainger had no use for the standard formal style of the four musically predominate European countries at the time– Germany, Austria, France, and Italy. He felt that the hegemony that these countries imposed on the music world was unfair. This is part of the reason that he never wrote in symphonic or sonata form preferring to let his music unfold for itself and follow its creative path wherever it led. This then resulted in using what he called the Democracy of Music or a Democracy of Lines. The concept of theme and variation or development didn’t apply. The main ideas of a composition were not the exclusive domain of only the ‘first parts.’ This ‘Democracy’ resulted in the theme or tune being shared throughout the ensemble. All of this doesn’t mean there isn’t structure to his music or no ‘melodies’ are employed. Quite the contrary. Tunes are prevalent and embraced. They just don’t reside in the first parts.


        “Grainger (Dec. 2, 1929): "TO CONDUCTORS and to those forming, or in charge of, amateur orchestras, high school, college and music school orchestra and chamber-music bodies.

        "ELASTIC SCORING. My 'elastic scoring' grows naturally out of two roots:

        1. That my music tells its story mainly by means of intervals and the liveliness of the part-writing, rather than by means of tone-color, and is therefore well fitted to be played by almost any small, large or medium-sized combination of instruments, provided a proper balance of tone is kept.

        2. That I wish to play my part in the radical experimentation with orchestral and chamber-music blends that seems bound to happen as a result of the ever wider spreading democratization of all forms of music.

        "As long as a really satisfactory balance of tone is preserved (so that the voices that make up the musical texture are clearly heard, one against the other, in the intended proportions) I do not care whether one of my 'elastically scored' pieces is played by 4 or 40 or 400 players, or any number in between; whether trumpet parts are played on trumpets or soprano saxophones, French horn parts played on French horns or E flat altos or alto saxophones, trombone parts played on trombones or tenor saxophones or C Melody saxophones; whether string parts are played by the instruments prescribed or by mandolins, mandolas, ukeleles[sic],, guitars, banjos, balalakas[sic],, etc.; whether harmonium parts are played on harmoniums (reed-organs) or pipe-organs; whether wood-wind instruments take part or whether a harmonium (reed-organ) or 2nd piano part is substituted for them. I do not even care whether the players are skilful[sic],  or unskilful[sic],, as long as they play well enough to sound the right intervals and keep the afore-said tonal balance--and as long as they play badly enough to still enjoy playing ('Where no pleasure is, there is no profit taken'--Shakespeare).”

        "This 'elastic scoring' is naturally fitted to musical conditions in small and out-of-the-way communities and to the needs of amateur orchestras and school, high school, college and music school orchestras everywhere, in that it can accommodate almost any combination of players on almost any instruments. It is intended to encourage music-lovers of all kinds to play together in groups, large or small, and to promote a more hospitable attitude towards inexperienced music-makers. It is intended to play its part in weaning music students away from too much useless[sic], goalless, soulless, selfish, inartistic soloistic technical study, intended to coax them into happier, richer musical fields--for music should be essentially an art of self-forgetful, soul- expanding communistic cooperation in harmony and many-voicedness.” 1)


        Elastic Scoring was a natural result of Grainger’s life-long philosophy of Democracy in Music (1931).


        “‘A chance for all to shine in a starry whole.’ Some such thought as this underlies, I suppose, our working conception of democracy. Democracy seems to our mind’s eye not merely a comfortable system of ensuring personal independence & safety to each man, but also an adventure in which the oneness & harmonious togetherness of all human souls is lovingly celebrated – for it is obvious that democracies are just as patriotic & humanitarian as they are freedom-loving.” 2)


        The next crucial item was Grainger’s strong belief of being completely clear as to what his intention was with each part, each line. This requires conductors and performers alike to attend to every performance directive, every dynamic indication, and all note markings to truly render his works the way he intended. It is imperative that the lower dynamics and decrescendo be strictly adhered to.


        Next item on the list refers to the first. Always look for who has the ‘tune’ and ensure that part is ‘to the fore.’ Next is to embrace that movement in music is life so look for the ‘faster notes’ and let them shine for their moment. After all, Grainger loved Bach and Bach lived during the age of ornamentation – bring out those quick notes.


        Now we come to what was very unconventional for his time but quite common in ours – mixed meters and composite meters. Grainger’s favorite works for wind ensemble were his Hill-Songs. Hill-Song No. 1 is rarely played because of its instrumentation and rhythmic complexity. Hill-Song No. 2 was a realization by Grainger that the instrumentation needed to be more in keeping with the wind ensemble or Small-Room music set-up of the time. Even in its reduction, Hill-Song No. 2 has 88 metrical changes in the span of a 5-minute work and employs meter markings such as 11/2/4. He had choice words for those who recoiled at these metrical time signatures or his approach to ‘Free Music’ as in the Fifth Movement, Lord Melbourne, of Lincolnshire Posy.


        To Bandleaders

        Bandleaders need not be afraid of the two types of irregular rhythm met with in the “Lincolnshire Posy”: those conveyed by changing time signatures in “Rufford Park Poachers,” and those (mark “Free Time”) left to the band leader’s volition in “Lord Melbourne”.” Both these types lie well within the powers of any normal high school band. The only players that are likely to balk at those rhythms are seasoned professional bandsmen, who think more of their beer than of their music.” 3)


        Then we have Grainger’s ‘Blue-eyed English.’ A cleansing of the Old English/Anglo-Saxon of Latin, Greek and other foreign languages that infected the original. 4)


        There are numerous methods of approaching and rehearsing Grainger’s music. Many articles discuss conducting techniques and how to accomplish balance, technically difficult passages, and metrical complexities but not the foundations of the Composer’s Intent. This is where we must look at Grainger’s music in totality and his remarkable insights into music, music performance, and social philosophies. This is where we unlock the real secrets of Percy Aldridge Grainger!




      • 1)    A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger by Thomas P. Lewis, ISBN 10: 0912483563 ISBN 13: 9780912483566, Publisher: Pro Am Music Resources, 1990, APPENDIX 1: ADDITIONAL COMMENTS ON INSTRUMENTATION, ETC. p. 272-277 http://www.minervaclassics.com/grainger/progno11.htm
      • 2)    Malcolm Gillies and Bruce Clunies Ross, Grainger on Music, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 217.
      • 3)    To Bandleaders contained in Lincolnshire Posy score.
      • 4)    Percy Grainger Journal, Vol. 10 No. 2, Winter 1991, Author, Leroy Osmon, Percy Grainger’s Blue-Eyed English – A Catalogue of Terms, 10 – 26. http://anyflip.com/wkyv/btaq

  • 05/21/2021 3:58 PM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)
    • By Bill Garlette

    • The Global pandemic of 2019-2021 created a unique situation for musicians and music educators. Because of the highly contagious nature of the SARS-CoV-2/COVID 19, what is called ‘social distancing’ was enacted as one of the preventative measures. This, in essence, dictated that people should be separated by at least six feet (ten feet for performing musicians) from each other. Subsequently, rehearsal and performance space that had been adequate for 50, 60, 100 musicians were now reduced to half that number or less. No longer could instrument sections of 10-16 members be allowed. In some instances ensembles were reduced to one per section and many times mixed ensembles with some instrument types being absent altogether.

    • This led composers to start writing for what is now call ‘Flex-Bands’ or ‘Flex-Ensembles.’ The interesting thing is a prominent, 20th century composer, Percy Grainger, had already employed this technique over 100 years ago – Elastic Scoring is what he called it. This was all part of Grainger’s philosophy of Democracy in Music. Providing music in such a manner that all different types of ensembles from a few players to 100s could perform the same work with success. What better way to tell the story than through Grainger’s own words:

      My “elastic scoring” grows naturally out of two roots:
      1. That my music tells its story mainly by means of intervals and the liveliness of the part-writing, rather than by means of tone-color, and is therefore well fitted to be played by almost any small, large or medium-sized combination of instruments, provided a proper balance of tone is kept.
      2. That I wish to play my part in the radical experimentation with orchestral and chamber-music blends that seems bound to happen as a result of the ever wider spreading democratization of all forms of music.
      As long as a really satisfactory balance of tone is preserved (so that the voices that make up the musical texture are clearly heard, one against the other, in the intended proportions) I do not care whether one of my “elastically scored” pieces is played by 4 or 40 or 400 players, or any number in between; whether trumpet parts are played on trumpets or soprano saxophones, French horn parts played on French horns or E flat altos or alto saxophones, trombone parts played on trombones or tenor saxophones or C Melody saxophones; whether string parts are played by the instrument prescribed or by mandolins, mandolas, ukuleles, guitars, banjos, balalaikas, etc.; whether harmonium parts are played on harmoniums (reed-organs) or pipe-organs; whether wood-wind instruments take part or whether a harmonium (reed-organ) or 2nd piano part is substituted for them. I do not even care whether the players are skillful or unskillful, as long as they play well enough to sound the right intervals and keep the afore-said tonal balance – and as long as they play badly enough to still enjoy playing (“Where no pleasure is, there is no profit taken” – Shakespeare). 
      This “elastic scoring” is naturally fitted to musical conditions in small and out-of-the-way communities and to the needs of amateur orchestras and school, high school, college and music school orchestras everywhere, in that it can accommodate almost any combination of players on almost any instruments. It is intended to encourage music-loves of all kinds to play together in groups, large or small, and to promote a more hospitable attitude towards inexperienced music-makers. It is intended to play its part in weaning music students away from too much useless, goalless, soulless, selfish, inartistic soloistic technical study, intended to coax them into happier, richer musical fields – for music should be essentially an art of self-forgetful, soul-expanding communistic cooperation in harmony and many-voicedness. (1)

      Elastic Scoring was a natural result of Grainger’s life-long philosophy of Democracy in Music (1931)

      “A chance for all to shine in a starry whole.’ Some such thought as this underlies, I suppose, our working conception of democracy. Democracy seems to our mind’s eye not merely a comfortable system of ensuring personal independence & safety to each man, but also an adventure in which the oneness & harmonious togetherness of all human souls is lovingly celebrated – for it is obvious that democracies are just as patriotic & humanitarian as they are freedom-loving.”

      “Such a banner seems fair enough for any upward-yearning soul. And, in fact, this ideal, as applied to life, art & thought, has spurred on many a genius, such as Walt Whitman, Tennyson, Martin Luther, Bach, Grieg, Edgar Lee Masters, etc.”

      “Yet, in spite of the master-minds that have championed democracy, & in spite of the fact that the measure of a country’s democraticness is almost exactly the measure of its prominence in freedom, science, power & prosperity, we hardly ever meet an individual (even in those lands most nearly democratic)who whole-heartedly believes in the practical wisdom of democracy; nearly always the individual is held back from a happy embrace of democratic doctrine by the sway exerted over his nature by old-time influences that make for superstition, personal greed, leisure-worship, celebrity-hunting, slavishness & lack of selfhood. As a result, so many of those who would give lip-service to democracy where the large issues of world affairs are at stake are unwilling to practice democracy in the small & immediate affairs of their everyday life. As a result of this weakness & blindness in so many individuals we may truly say that democracy (like Christianity, like socialism like many another noble idea) has never yet been given ‘a fair chance.’ Yet its cause goes marching on.”

               “It is not the same as the cause of the best, the deepest, the grandest, the loveliest art music? Its cause, also, goes marching on with quiet but steady invincibility, although retarded by the blindness & smallmindedness of some many individuals – amongst whom, it always seems to me, there is too large a percentage of highly-trained professional musicians. These individuals seem to forget that art music is an essentially democratic art, an art that mingles souls while it mingles sounds, an art in its self-forgetful collectivism transcends individualism, an art of fusion and cooperation, an art that feeds on soul-ecstasy but starves on mere cerebral cleverness. In the highest forms of art music, as in democracy, ‘the starry whole’ (the radiant glory of art itself, of collective humanity itself) counts for at least as much as ‘the chance for all to shine.’ Technically, this means that the various melodic lines, that make up the harmonic texture, must enjoy, at various moments, equal opportunities to be independent, prominent & volitional; but that the splendor & beauty of the composite whole is the goal that none may lose from mind.” (2) 

    1.    Percy Grainger, December 2, 1929 (from the Preface to Spoon River, AFMS2, 1930) Found in The New Percy Grainger Companion, ed. Penelope Thwaites (The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK), 2010, Appendix I.

    2. Malcolm Gillies and Bruce Clunies Ross, Grainger on Music, Oxford University Press, 1999, p 217 - 222.

  • 03/15/2021 9:26 AM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)

    Photo of Grainger, Program booklet for the 1916 Worcester Music Festival.

    Percy Grainger appeared eight times in Worcester, Massachusetts. His first performance, to great reviews and media attention, was as soloist in the Grieg Piano Concerto at the 59th Worcester Music Festival in 1916; he also performed four original solo arrangements as part of the formal program. He returned in 1917 (the 60th Festival) armed with a World Premiere.  His appearance here in 1919 was outside the Festival on tour with the New York Philharmonic under Joseph Stransky in the Steinert concert series, but still at the acoustically remarkable Mechanics Hall; he played the Tchaikovsky Concerto.

    On October 25, 1929, just days before the stock market crash, he played a solo recital at Clark University’s Clark Auditorium; he quickly returned in the Festivals of 1930 (71st,) 1931 (72nd,) and 1942 (83rd.) His eighth and final appearance was in a joint recital with violinist Leona Flood and her accompanist Pablo Miquel in Clark University’s Fine Arts concert series in 1945.

    Two major Grainger works were given their world-premiere at the Festival: “Marching Song of Democracy” (60th Festival, 1917) and “Tribute to Foster” (72nd Festival, 1930.)

    As the popularity of the Festival grew exponentially, Mechanics Hall’s 1,600 seats could not accommodate the crowds. Built in 1857 (the Worcester Chorus and the annual Festival were established in 1858) it was a popular and much-used jewel in the civic crown of a city that was a major economic powerhouse. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it was and is acoustically favorable to speakers and musicians alike. It had also become a little care-worn over the years, mentioned in some of Grainger’s later press, and the Festival moved to the new War Memorial Auditorium in 1933, only returning to a beautifully restored and modernized Mechanics Hall after 1977.

    I have included these early Worcester Daily Telegram articles to give a sense of the reception he was receiving as a fresh face on the concert scene, not only musically but personally. These took the form not only of concert reviews but Festival interviews and previews, “Women’s Interest” and “Entertainment News” articles, breathless information on arrivals and departures, hotels, extra-musical activities and what Grainger and his mother Rose wore at various events.

    Not surprisingly tickets to the open morning rehearsals, where audience and performers were more casual, were as in demand as the concerts, especially among younger members of the audience, many of them aspiring musicians. The press saw the rehearsals as an opportunity for personal insight, as fascinating for review as the more formal events. The performers, of course, were in performance.

    Please click here for the continuation of Percy Grainger in Worcester: Two World-Premières.

    - Eric Culver

    Photo of Mechanics Hall interior, early 20th c., from Raymond Morin, The Worcester Music Festival 1858-1976

  • 02/18/2021 9:30 AM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)

    By Marissa Kyser, May 2019


    As a man who obsessed over the meticulous documentation of his life, it is strange that little is known about Percy Grainger during the time he spent living in Springfield, Missouri. Though it is acknowledged that the world-famous composer moved to this area around the time of World War II, there is a lack of compiled evidence that detail his whereabouts and residence. Many researchers have contributed to understanding Grainger’s life in New York, Europe, and Australia, but most fail to describe this brief period of his life in Springfield, let alone recognize that he lived there at all. The purpose of this study is to fill this gap in the timeline of Percy Grainger’s life.

    Percy and Ella Grainger moved to Springfield, Missouri in November 1940 and returned to their home in White Plains, New York in October 1943. Percy sought after the safety of his wife and career with the relocation to Springfield out of precaution, rather than cowardice. To display his support during the war, he took part in countless events that would benefit the war effort, such as fundraisers for the Red Cross, War Bond Rallies, and other charity concerts.

    Though Percy frequently spent his time traveling for his performances, the time spent at the Wilshire Apartments can be viewed as entirely positive. As a man entering his sixtieth year of life, Grainger was very keen on taking advantage of the quiet lifestyle that Springfield provided him in comparison to his residence in White Plains. 

    "House at Springfield", photo by Percy Grainger, 1943


    Percy and Ella arrived by train in Springfield in June 1940 and promptly checked into the famous Colonial Hotel, located on Jefferson Avenue.[1] This short trip was planned for them to find for a permanent residence, their preference being an apartment that was “high up” and not on the ground floor. Just a few blocks south from their hotel, they discovered the Wilshire Apartments.[2]

    The Wilshire Apartments, located at 520 South Jefferson Avenue, were built in 1919 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. The terracotta-red brick building is three stories and contains six units available for rent. When submitted to the register through the National Park Service in 2008, significant detail was provided regarding the physical appearance and historical importance of the building:

    The Wilshire embodies the characterizing features of this property type: a flat parapeted roof, rectangular form, symmetrical fenestration, central main entrance, and Classical Revival styling. The use of contrasting stone and terra cotta detailing, pilasters, arches, keystones, dentils, and ornamental brackets help to establish the Wilshire as a notable example of the Downtown Apartment Building property type.[3]

    The building has undergone renovations since 1919; photos from the 2008 NPS application show the condition of the building prior to its most recent renovation completed in 2009. The photos from 2008 display the unit layout as it would have been in 1940. Recent photos taken ten years later (2018) depict the apartment’s layout post-renovation after being restored to reflect the “level of styling that would have been attractive to upper-middle class renters.” It was just a short walk to the public square and many local performance venues, such as the Landers Theatre, Gillioz Theater, Jewell Theater, and Electric Theater.

    The Wilshire Apartments were owned by Mrs. Carrie Dell Shelpman and managed by her son, Mr. Edward J. Shelpman at this time. Edward Shelpman’s wife, Mattie, spoke with the Graingers when they initially inquired about available space in June 1940.[4]  

     An interview with Mattie Shelpman (recorded by Mary Jacqueline Blanton in 1977) revealed that she was hesitant to rent a room to Percy, whom she described as “odd and poorly dressed,” and presented himself wearing “work clothes, heavy work shoes, knapsack and bushy, long, reddish hair…accompanied by his plainly dressed wife.”[5] Mattie was skeptical the world-famous Percy Grainger was interested in living in Springfield, Missouri and would present himself in such strange attire. To politely mask her uncertainty, she asked the Graingers to return later that afternoon when her husband would be home to assist her. Percy and Ella agreed to the appointment and left. Meanwhile, Mattie contacted the Colonial Hotel, where the Graingers were staying for the short trip, to confirm Percy’s identity with the front desk.

    Mr. and Mrs. Shelpman, reassured that they were not being deceived, met the Graingers for their afternoon appointment. Mattie recalled taking the couple up to the third floor to view Unit 6 where “they ran from room to room like excited children,” exclaiming, “We take it!”[6]

    Grainger penned a handwritten note to personally record the rental agreement (See Figure 1.1):

    Springfield, Missouri

    June 27, 1940, signed contract with E.J. Shelpman, Wilshire Apartment, 520 South Jefferson Ave., Springfield, Mo. for 6 month lease of Apartment No 6, Wilshire Apartment, 520 South Jefferson Ave. Springfield, Mo. from July 1st, 1940., at $35.00 monthly. Contract is in safe (A check for $35.00 should be sent to Mr. Shelpman, as above, to reach him before the 1st of each month).


    Figure 1.1
    Percy Grainger Personal Note, Wilshire Apartments, June 27, 1940.
    Grainger Museum Archives, Melbourne, Australia.


    Though Grainger mentions a written contract, Mattie Shelpman stated that there was no record of a signed physical document from this agreement. The Graingers paid $35.00 a month in the 1940s to rent this two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1400 square foot apartment. For reference, the current price in 2019 to rent Apartment 6 unit is $1,345.00 a month.[7] They would not move to Springfield and into the apartment until several months later in November.

    The Wilshire Apartments
    520 South Jefferson Street
    Springfield, MO

    Photo Taken: Marissa Kyser, 2019



    Whilst in Springfield, Percy composed and edited multiple works of significance including his Youthful Suite, The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart, settings from his Kipling Jungle Book cycle, The Immovable Do, and several others. He maintained his professional and personal connections via letter correspondence and continued to develop the Grainger Museum in Melbourne, Australia. His standard for performance and composition did not suffer during this time, but rather flourished.

                The Springfield years yielded four formal concerts featuring Percy Grainger on June 1, 1941, January 13, September 13, and November 12, 1942. These concerts were of high interest to the public and had consistently high attendance. Performance venues included Southwest Missouri State Teachers College (now Missouri State University), Senior High School (now Central High School), and the Shrine Mosque Theater. He performed several times with the Springfield Civic Symphony under the direction of James Robertson.

                In terms of leisure and entertainment, Percy was a frequent patron of the Springfield movie theaters. During weeks when he wasn’t away for a concert tour, he records attending multiple film showings in the same week. He would often partake in eateries located within walking distance of the apartment such as Davidson’s Cafeteria and Donovan’s Café.

    Based on multiple instances observed in their correspondence records, it can be interpreted that Percy and Ella lived happily in Springfield and only moved back to White Plains for practical reasons. As a growing city located in the Midwest, Springfield maintained average temperatures and featured beautiful Ozarks scenery, which was plausibly attractive to an older couple. Percy makes references to Springfield in letters to Ella: “How I love Springfield & our Missouri home! It smells sweet of my angel. It is a rare love-&-art nest.” [8]

     In another letter, he writes:

    What a lovely state this is! So full of half-wild, half-filled, well-bread, well-watered ample … land, & full of happy comfy farms & brawny farmers. It looked its best today. Yet I slept nearly all day. I must have been all worn out![9]


    However, as all good things must come to an end, the Graingers decided to return to their home in White Plains near the end of 1943. On September 28, 1943, Percy sent a letter written in Swedish to Ella’s mother. A translated version of this letter, explaining their seemingly sudden departure, reads as follows:   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            28 Sept, 1943

    Dear Mamma,

    Ella and I have now lived in the state of Missouri (right in the middle of the United States) for 3 years. I thought that this would be safer for Ella, during the war, to live here in Springfield, Missouri, and that is why we moved here. But now we think an air attack on the American Coast is quite unlikely and that is why we, in a couple of days, move back to White Plains, where our address always is: Percy Grainger, 7 Cromwell Place, White Plains, NY.

    It really is unfortunate that we must move from here, as we have been so happy here. But for practical reasons it seems better for us to live in White Plains.

    It is pleasant to look back over the last 3 years and on all the artistic work we have both produced during this time period. Ella has completed a bunch of beautiful portraits—one of herself, a wonderful picture, and also about 6 others of different others of different people. Ella has also (while we lived here in Springfield) finalized her second book of Poems (“A Wayward Girl”)–which has been printed here in Springfield itself—and this book as “won” itself quite a few friends.

    The war is quite far from being over. But it seems like we can assume the end is closing in, and that makes us both so happy.

    Soon comes the day when Ella and I will once again travel to Sweden and visit Mamma.

    That happy event we long for.

    We are always talking about Mamma and hope that Mamma is well and has it as well as can be under the circumstances. Both Ella and I have been wonderfully healthy this summer.

    With the dearest of greetings.

    Mamma’s respectfully,          



    After Percy Grainger returned home to White Plains, he lived there until his battle with prostate cancer caused his death on February 20, 1961. He was buried in Adelaide in March 2, 1961. It was his wish that his skeleton be preserved in the Grainger Museum for display, but this wish was not granted. At the age of 83, Ella Grainger was remarried to a gentleman named Stewart Manville in 1972. She lived in their home at 7 Cromwell Place until her death on July 17, 1979.

    Photo from Newspaper Article

    Docia Karell, “Composer Grainger And Artist Wife Come to Make Home in Springfield,” Springfield News and Leader, (Springfield, Missouri), November 10, 1940, 16.


    To read the complete contents of this research paper, please contact Marissa Kyser via email at mkbleu15@yahoo.com. Resources and documents used with permission from the Percy Grainger Museum, Melbourne, Australia.


    Blanton, Mary Jacqueline. Interviewed by Marissa Kyser. Personal Interview. Columbia, Missouri. May 1, 2019.

    Blanton, Mary Jaqueline. Percy Grainger in Missouri. Thesis. University of Missouri-Columbia. 1978.

    Emrie, Gail, and Debbie Shields. Wilshire Apartments. United States Department of the Interior National Park Service: National Register of Historic Places. 2007.

    [1] Located at 205 South Jefferson Avenue, the Colonial Hotel was considered to be the grandest hotel in Southwest Missouri at the time. Built in 1907, this hotel had many notable occupants, including Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy, and of course, Percy Grainger. The official ceremony naming Route 66 was also held at this famous hotel. The building was donated to Missouri State University in 1986 and sat vacant for several years until it was razed in 1997 due to extensive dilapidation that was too expensive to revert. Today, this plot of land is covered with a small university parking lot.

    [2] Mary Jaqueline Blanton, Percy Grainger in Missouri, (University of Missouri-Columbia, 1978), 47.

    [3] Emrie and Shields. Wilshire Apartments.

    [4] Carrie Dell Shelpman (1806-1958) and Edward J. Shelpman (1868-1936) had two children. Their son, Edward J. Shelpman (1898-1999), married Mattie Lee (1902-1987) and their daughter, Isabel Shelpman (1899-1987) married Josiah Elijah Keet (1893-1973) in 1922. The family owned the Wilshire Apartments until 1970.

    [5] Blanton, Missouri, 47.

    [6] Ibid.

    [7] The Wilshire Apartments, Web Page, Wilshire Apartments, accessed May 1, 2018.

    [8] Percy Grainger, “Percy Grainger to Ella Grainger, Sept 13, 1941,” Letter, Percy Grainger to Ella Grainger Correspondence, 2016/10, Box 7, Accessed February 14, 2019.

    [9] Percy Grainger, “Percy Grainger to Ella Grainger, July 3, 1941,” Letter, Percy Grainger to Ella Grainger Correspondence, 2016/10, Box 7, Accessed February 14, 2019.

    [10] Percy Grainger, “Percy Grainger to Ella Grainger’s Mother, September 28, 1943,” Grainger File, Grainger Home, White Plains, New York, Accessed May 11, 2019.

  • 01/06/2021 4:08 PM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)

    “Art is either plagiarism or revolution.” – Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)

    By Chalon Ragsdale. Percy Grainger’s status as an innovative genius in the area of orchestration is reinforced for me practically with each score of his I have the good fortune to study. His knowledge of the instruments is an important factor, his search for new and unique combinations of instruments is an important factor, but perhaps the most important factor in the brilliance of his orchestration is his democratic respect for each instrument’s worth and ability to contribute positively to the total fabric (Grainger might say the “weft”) of the music. Though I am constantly amazed at Grainger’s use of all the instrumental and choral resources at his disposal at any one time, as a percussionist myself, I am most keenly struck by Grainger’s brilliant use of the mallet-played percussion; what he termed the “tuneful percussion.”

    Grainger’s transformational energy found fruit in a new model of orchestration in the early years of the 20th Century, as expressed most convincingly in his large orchestral works The Warriors and Suite: In a Nutshell. Grainger continued the work of Wagner and Mahler in completing the woodwind and brass families of the orchestra; but he also created a new family of instrumental color by combining the “tuneful” percussion with harp and the various keyboard actuated instruments (piano, celesta, dulcitone, etc.)

    Thus, in The Warriors, Grainger provides a fourth complete family to add to the Woodwinds Brass and Strings.  He used 3 players on the normal orchestral percussion - Side-drum, tambourine, cymbals, bass drum, gong, and the like. But he then added as many as eight players on Xylophone; Wooden Marimba (2 players); Glockenspiel; Steel marimba or bar-piano, or dulcitone; Staff Bells (an instrument of his own invention, consisting of up to 4 octaves of handbells strung in keyboard fashion on a wooden rack and played with various mallets); Tubular Bells; Celesta; Piano(s); and Harp.

    Though The Warriors and Suite: In a Nutshell received mixed and negative reviews (many of which seem now frankly unenlightened), the appeal of Grainger’s use of orchestration was undeniable. Writing for Musical America in August 1917, Charles L. Buchanan said,

    “… Grainger’s contribution to the sheerly instrumental side of his art is obviously far and away the most important development in contemporary symphonic music. An inborn knack, a ceaseless practical intimacy with the orchestra and a utilization of a whole new army of percussion instruments […] lend his orchestra an individual timbre of an exceeding richness of texture […] and a wealth of tone color that appears to mark a new high record in the contemporary concert hall.” (Bird, p. 193; emphasis added)

    Before Grainger, composers had used percussion as “salt and pepper” in their orchestral palate. But Grainger was convinced percussion could be a satisfying “course,” combining on equal footing with the other sections of the orchestra, and Warriors and In a Nutshell proved him right.

    But Grainger also believed that the tuneful percussion and their cousins (piano, harmonium, celesta, etc.) could constitute a complete meal. And he proved his hypothesis with his brilliant setting for tuneful percussion (and their cousins) of Debussy’s Pagodes. Grainger realized that Debussy’s Pagodes was an attempt to render by means of the piano the sounds and textures that Debussy had been exposed to at the Javanese exhibit at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle (International Exposition).

    In 1934, Grainger published a series of twelve lectures under the collective title A Commonsense View of All Music. In the eleventh lecture, “Tuneful Percussion,” Grainger wrote,

    “Of late years the bell-makers of Europe and America have adapted many Asiatic and other exotic tuneful percussion instruments to our European pitch and scale requirements, with the result that we are able to decipher Oriental music from gramophone records and perform then on the Europeanized Oriental instruments whenever we want to.

    I have tried the experiment of orchestrating Debussy’s Pagodes for a complete tuneful percussion group - thus, as it were, turning back to its Oriental beginnings the Asiatic music Debussy transcribed for a Western instrument (the piano). In so doing I am merely giving it back to the sound-type from which it originally emerged.”

    Most sources point to Edgar Varese’s Ionisation (1929-1931; first performed 1933) as the first percussion ensemble. Might not Grainger’s setting of Pagodes (1928) be worth considering, at least as “among the first?”

    One of the earliest anthologies of writings by and about Grainger was A Musical Genius from Australia, published by the University of Western Australia Department of Music, compiled and with Commentary by Teresa Balough. The word “genius” has an elusive definition. Does “genius” describe a person? Or is it a quality all of us can possess in some measure? If it is a quality, perhaps it is the ability of a singular individual to look at what the rest of us are looking at, but see something different. If we accept that definition, then Percy Grainger certainly had a quality of genius, of seeing things the rest of us missed, and the “tuneful percussion,” and the world of percussion in general, are the beneficiaries of that genius.

    Click here to view a  sample of Grainger's manuscript score for his setting of Debussy’s Pagodes.

    Click here to view printed full score of Grainger's setting of Debussy's Pagodes  as published by Bardic Edition (score and performing material available on rental from Schott Music). 

    To hear a recording of Percy Grainger’s setting of Debussy’s Pagodes.


    To see a performance of “Arrival Platform Humlet,” the opening movement of Suite: In a Nutshell, conducted and with commentary by Michael Tilson-Thomas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2gMjtlYthk

    Ugo Marcelli’s 1916 caricature of Grainger’s suite In a Nutshell for tuneful percussion and orchestra, featuring (from left to right) Percy Grainger, Aldred Hertz (conductor of the San Francisco S.O.), Louis Persinger (concertmaster) and Redfern Mason, the music critic for the San Francisco Examiner.

  • 12/16/2020 12:04 PM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)

    By William Garlette, Major, US Army (Retired). As promised, this blog article is a follow-up on “Influences on Grainger’s Original Compositions for Wind Band.” Captain Arthur A. Clappé (born, July 22, 1850 – died, November 22, 1920) had a musical relationship with Percy Grainger prior to Grainger’s entrance into the US Army band in 1917 and after, when Grainger was transferred to his faculty at the Army Band Leaders Course, Military Music Department, Institute of Musical Art, Fort Jay, Governors Island, NY. Clappé’s philosophy on wind band instrumentation and approaches to composing for and teaching of wind band were comprehensive and innovative. Grainger strongly recommended to all who would be band conductors to read and follow Clappé’s sound advice.

    Clappé wrote four books: “The Band Teacher’s Assistant or Complete and Progressive Band Instructor “(1888), “Musical Essays Pertaining Particularly to Military Bands” (1893), “The Wind-Band and its Instruments” (1911) his most well-known, and the posthumously released “The Principles of Wind-Band Transcription” (1921).

    Major (Retd)) James R. Milne OMM CD, “Arthur A. Clappé”, a biography.

    “My 'opus' on A.A. was published in The Journal of the International Military Music Society - 'Band International'. It was published in two parts: Volume 32 No. 1 - April 2010 and Volume 32 No. 2 - August 2010.” -Major (Retd) James R. Milne OMM CD

    Please click below for the full article,  Arthur A. Clappé: Early Influencer on American Wind Bands: a1.Arthur A. Clappe- Early Influencer on American Wind Bands .html

    The author is indebted to Patricia Marshall and Robin Rodger, both descendants of A. A. Clappé's English family, for supplying valuable information.

  • 11/17/2020 1:14 PM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)

    The 15th Band, Coast Artillery Corps, U.S. Army, Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, 1917. Front row center, in civilian attire, is Arthur A. Clappé (faculty 1911-20), principal of the bandmaster training school on Governors Island. Rocco (Robert) Resta (Diploma ’13, Military Bandleaders Course), leader of the Fort Hamilton band, is second to the left of Clappé, holding a baton and his brother, Francis, who would later be the Bandmaster of the US Military Academy Band, is the clarinetist to the viewer’s far right. To Clappé's left is Australian composer and pianist Percy Grainger, Army bandsman at Fort Hamilton, who enlisted in 1917 and was later transferred to Governors Island. (Photo by J.J. Fisher, New York. From the collection of the Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne, Australia)

    By William Garlette, Major, US Army (Retired). Most of Percy Grainger’s music for wind band was written or started between 1900 and 1940. During those years, there were three gentlemen who had a musical impact on him: Robert ‘Rocco’ Resta, Francis Resta, and Arthur A. Clappé. All three were members of the U.S. Army Band program and they all worked directly with Grainger.

    Percy Grainger and his mother, Rose, came to the United States in 1914 in an effort to avoid military service during World War I. Additionally, the 1914-15 performance season had been cancelled in overseas due to the War. When the US entered the war in 1917, Grainger hoped to avoid ‘The Front’ by joining the 15th Coast Artillery Corps US Army Band at Fort Totten/Fort Hamilton. Bandmaster Robert ‘Rocco’ Resta, a 1913 graduate of the Army Band Leaders Course, Military Band Department, Institute of Musical Art (the forerunner of modern-day Juilliard), was his first opportunity to work directly with a professional US military band conductor. During his time with the 15th (1917-1918), he became close with Rocco and his younger brother, Francis, who was also a performing member of the band. These relationships would be life-long. 

    Grainger respected Rocco’s musicianship, writing to his mother, Rose, on June 12, 1917, “Resta is a good & graceful conductor, very Italian, full of fine contrasts.” (1)

    Later, he would write in his Round Letter of May 21, 1947, “For I have passed a mile-stone in my tone-life: Francis Resta’s forth-playment of my Hillsong 1 at West Point on April 20. Rocco Resta (Francis Resta’s brother) was my band-leader in the army, at Fort Hamilton, 1917-1918 --& I was happy there with Rocco. Francis Resta (younger brother) came to Fort Hamilton before I left there to go & teach tone-art in the ARMY MUSIC TRAINING SCHOOL at Governors Island, & he soon came on to Gov. Isl. Himself having won an army scholarship. So we were at Gov. Island together for nearly a year.” (2)

    The musical cooperation between Grainger and the Resta brothers, especially Francis, is well-documented. On many occasions after Francis Resta assumed the position of Teacher of Music/Bandmaster of the West Point Band (1934-1957), Resta performed, read through new works, and had Grainger as a soloist at the US Military Academy. 

    Grainger was reassigned to the Army Band Leaders Course, Military Band Department, Institute of Musical Art at Fort Jay, Governors Island, NY in 1918. This was mainly done because there was talk that the 15th C.A.C. Band was going to France and ‘The Front.’ It was here that he began working with Captain Arthur A. Clappé. Captain Clappé was the Principal of the Army Band Leaders School of Music from its inception in 1911 until his death in 1920. Clappé (3), along with John Phillip Sousa (4), was instrumental in getting Grainger into the 15th Coast Artillery Corps US Army Band in 1917 writing to senior Army commanders on his behalf.

    Grainger was so impressed with Captain Clappé, he wrote in the publication, Metronome Orchestra Monthly (5), an essay entitled Possibilities of the Concert Wind Band from the Standpoint of a Modern Composer (6): “Those who are interested in exploring the full latent possibilities of the modern concert wind band should consult Arthur A. Clappé's The Wind Band and its Instruments, an epoch-making work which is to the band of today what Berlioz's Treatise on Instrumentation was to the orchestra of his time – a standard work that no composer, musician, bandmaster, or bandsman should fail to know and absorb.” (7)

    He continues “…[Clappé] has furthermore demonstrated in practice the truth and practicability of his theories in the beautifully balanced ‘Institute of Musical Art’ Band that he has built up at the Army Music Training School at Governor’s Island of which he is principal. When I first heard this band, at a concert at Washington Irving High School, with its quintet of saxophones, its quartet of alto and bass clarinets, its quartet of oboes, bass oboe and bassoon, with the tone of its well-rounded brass section so proportioned and controlled so as never to (except for quite special intentional effects) obscure or over-blare the more subtly expressive sound colors of its unusually complete woodwind sections, I realized, more than ever before, the truly immense potentialities of the concert wind band as an emotional musical medium.” 

    This experience with Clappé lead him to state, “It is not so much the wind band as it already is, in the various countries, that should engage the creative attentions of contemporaneous composers of genius, as the band as it should be and will be; for it is still in a pliable state as regards its make-up as compared with the more settled form of the sound-ingredients of the symphony orchestra.” (8)

    After World War I, Grainger established himself as a composer of the highest level of prominence in the Wind Band genre composing over 30 works for the medium.

    This article makes clear that his experiences in the Army and with the various military music leaders at the time, solidified his beliefs in the importance and approaches to writing for the modern wind band.

    1 The all-round man: Selected letters of Percy Grainger, 1914–1961 Gillies, Malcolm & David Pear (eds), Oxford [England] : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1994. p. 40

    2 ibid, p. 208

    3 Drawn from James A. Milne, “Arthur A. Clappé”, an unpublished biography and a Letter from Arthur Clappé to Manuel Comulada, June 10, 1917, Grainger Museum

    4 Letter from John Philip Sousa to General White, June 6, 1917, Grainger Museum

    5 Metronome Orchestra Monthly 34/11, November 1918, p.22-3 Possibilities of the Concert Wind Band from the Standpoint of a Modern Composer

    6  http://online.anyflip.com/wkyv/laeu/mobile/index.html

    7 ibid

    8 ibid

    (To follow: a reprint, “Arthur A. Clappé”, a biography published in The Journal of the International Military Music Society - 'Band International'. Published in two parts: Volume 32 No. 1 - April 2010 and Volume 32 No. 2 - August 2010 by James A. Milne.)

  • 10/13/2020 9:51 AM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)

    Video by Matthew McGarrell 

    To view the video: https://vimeo.com/467176217/4049a70be6

    During his long career, Percy Grainger used cameras and film to record events and people in his life, to make pictures for publicity, and, as most people do, to take pictures so as to see what they will look like after they are printed. This video is intended as an introduction to Percy Grainger as a photographer.  After some commentary employing ideas in Janet Malcolm’s essay, Diana & Nikon, as a filter to view Grainger’s photographs and to link them to his work with the phonograph in collecting folksong, the video shows two groups of pictures that Grainger made on his Kodak 3A Autographic Junior camera during two extended trips: 

    05:33 Voyage to Europe (with pictures from Sweden, Denmark, and England), begun January 1929

    06:53 Voyage on the 4-masted barque, L’Avenir (Copenhagen to Australia), begun September 1933 

    The following media are seen and heard in the video:


    00:00 audio Rufford Park Poachers sung by Joseph Taylor (1908)

    01:52 audio Rufford Park Poachers sung by Joseph Taylor (1908)

    05:44 audio Horkstow Grange sung by George Gouldthorpe (1906)

    06:59 audio Lord Melbourne sung by George Wray (1908)

    08:07 audio Green Bushes sung by Joseph Leaning (1906)


    00:16 photo Janet Malcolm by Nina Subin

    00:21 photo Diana camera

    00:23 photo Nikon F camera

    00:25 book Diana & Nikon: essays on photography by Janet Malcolm ISBN: 0893817279

    00:33 photo Borderland State Park, Easton, Massachusetts by Matthew McGarrell

    00:38 photo Puddingstone, Middletown, Rhode Island by Matthew McGarrell

    00:43 photo Manville, Rhode Island by Matthew McGarrell

    00:46 photo Lincoln Woods, Rhode Island by Matthew McGarrell

    00:51 photo Close by Matthew McGarrell

    00:56 photo Warren, Rhode Island by Matthew McGarrell

    01:01 photo Mãe d'Água, Lisboa by Matthew McGarrell

    01:07 photo Mãe d'Água, Lisboa by Matthew McGarrell

    01:12 photo Porto by Matthew McGarrell

    01:17 photo R Mutt’s Fountain (Marcel Duchamp) by Giuseppe Schiavinotto

    01:19 photo Marcel Duchamp at the Walker Art Center, 1965 by Eric Sutherland

    01:22 photo Bottlerack, 1961 by Marcel Duchamp

    01:30 photo Edison Phonograph by Matthew McGarrell

    01:38 photo 7 Cromwell Place by Matthew McGarrell

    01:51 photo W88-05 Joseph Taylor, side face by Percy Grainger

    02:08 photo W88-01 George Gouldthorpe by Percy Grainger

    02:23 photo W88-03 George Gouldthorpe [and one other] by Percy Grainger

    02:40 photo W88-04 Joseph Taylor, front face by Percy Grainger

    02:55 photo W141-42 Negro church from SW by Percy Grainger

    03:01 photo W86-08 Elsie standing in front of tree trunk by Percy Grainger

    03:07 photo Springfield 05 (uncatalogued) [West’s Repair Shop] by Percy Grainger

    03:13 book Percy Grainger: the pictorial biography by Robert Simon ISBN: 0878752811

    03:34 photo W24-15 Baptist church, next to ‘Solfiero’ by Percy Grainger

    03-36 photo W64 not numbered-06 [PG and EG, walking away from camera] photographer ?

    03:38 photo W56-03 Aldridge grave plot, West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide by Percy Grainger

    03:41 photo W4-07 dressed for South Australian desert tramp, 1924 photographer ?

    03:52 photo W24-08 Killala “PG’s favorite boyhood home” by Percy Grainger

    03:57 photo W68-09 old house, N. Adelaide by Percy Grainger

    04:02 photo W68-12 Prince Alfred Hotel (Aldridge home, RG’s childhood) by Percy Grainger

    04:07 photo uncatalogued [Ella, 7 Cromwell Place] by Percy Grainger

    04:12 book Picture taking with the No. 3A Autographic Kodak Special (Eastman Kodak)

    04:47 photo No. 3A Autographic Kodak Special by Matthew McGarrell

    05:43 photo W64-01 January 1929, SS Drottningholm [Ella] by Percy Grainger

    05:47 photo W64-08 January 1929, SS Drottningholm [Percy] by Ella Grainger

    05:51 photo W64-08 January 1929, SS Drottningholm [Percy and Ella] photographer ?

    05:59 photo W64-21 Segeltorp, 1929 [Percy Grainger on skis] by Ella Grainger

    06:03 photo W64-23 Segeltorp, 1929 [Percy Grainger on skis] by Ella Grainger

    06:07 photo W64-33 Segeltorp, 1929 [Percy Grainger on skis] by Ella Grainger

    06:11 photo W64-36 Segeltorp, 1929 [Percy and Ella Grainger on skis] photographer ?

    06:19 photo W64 not numbered 05 Rørvig, Denmark by Ella Grainger

    06:23 photo W64 not numbered 03 Rørvig, Denmark [Ella and Alfhild (on horse)] by Percy Grainger

    06:27 photo W64 not numbered 11 Rørvig, Denmark [Percy, Alfhilde, Herman] by Ella Grainger

    06:31 photo W64 not numbered 10 Rørvig, Denmark [Ella and Percy] by Percy Grainger

    06:45 photo W360-07 Lilla Vrån, Pevensey Bay, England [Ella Grainger in window] by Percy Grainger

    06:48 photo W360-07 Lilla Vrån, Pevensey Bay, England by Percy Grainger

    06:58 photo W66-00b L’Avenir off South Coast of England by Williams

    07:02 photo W66-L’AV II-06 [off South Coast of England] by Percy Grainger

    07:06 photo W66-L’AV XI-01 [from small boat, L’Avenir on horizon] by Percy Grainger

    07:10 photo W66-L’AV XI 03 [from small boat, approaching starboard of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:14 photo W66-L’AV IX 03 [from small boat, approaching bow of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:18 photo W66-L’AV IX 01 [from small boat, approaching larboard of L’Avenir]

    07:22 photo W66-L’AV II 03 [from deck of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:26 photo W66-L’AV VII 04 [from deck of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:30 photo W66-L’AV IV 06 [from rigging of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:34 photo W66-L’AV IV 01 [from rigging of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:38 photo W66-L’AV IV 02 [from rigging of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:42 photo W66-L’AV IV 04 [from rigging of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:46 photo W66-L’AV III 03 [from rigging of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:50 photo W66-L’AV III 05 [from rigging of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:54 photo W66-L’AV IV 05 [from rigging of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

    07:58 photo W66-L’AV VII 02 [from deck of L’Avenir] by Ella Grainger

    08:07 photo W66-L’AV VII 01 [from deck of L’Avenir] by Ella Grainger

    08:11 photo W66-L’AV VI 05 [from deck of L’Avenir] by Ella Grainger

    08:16 photo W66-L’AV VII 03 [from deck of L’Avenir] by Ella Grainger

    08:21 photo W66-L’AV XII 03 [from deck of L’Avenir] by Ella Grainger

    08:31 photo W66-L’AV VII 05 [Captain Nils Ericsson] by Ella Grainger

    08:36 photo W66-L’AV VII 06 [Captain Nils Ericsson] by Ella Grainger

    08:41 photo uncatalogued [oil painting of Nils Ericsson by Ella Grainger] by Matthew McGarrell

    08:46 photo W66-L’AV IV 03 [from rigging of L’Avenir] by Percy Grainger

  • 09/15/2020 2:05 PM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)

    by Cora Angier Sowa

    Duke Ellington at New York University

    In 1932, Percy Grainger was teaching a course called "A General Study of the Manifold Nature of Music" at New York University. On October 25, he invited the famous jazz bandleader Duke Ellington and his orchestra to perform several compositions for his class. Under such bandleaders as Ellington (pictured above), jazz had been adapted from different kinds of African and African-American song and made into forms that were popular with a wider, i.e. white, audience. Grainger had become a big fan of jazz, which he saw (as might be expected of him) through the lens of his own rather peculiar musical views.

    The origins of jazz

    The beginnings of jazz are usually associated with New Orleans, with its brass bands marching in Mardi Gras parades and jazz funerals, and with the singing and dancing in Congo Square, a neighborhood just north of the French Quarter, where enslaved Africans, given the day off on Sunday, would set up a market (at which they could often make enough money to buy their freedom) and dance to rhythms and songs inherited from Africa, like the Bamboula, Calinda, and Juba. The area is now included within Louis Armstrong Park.

    But the origins of jazz are complicated, drawing from many sources, African, Asian, and European. In Africa, the roots go back to the songs of the griots or bards, who were the keepers of the history of the tribe, to songs to accompany work, songs for religious ceremonies, and songs of play. Percy Grainger's friend Natalie Curtis recorded many of these songs, and her work in collecting the songs of African and African-American singers was discussed in a previous blog, Natalie Curtis, Busoni, and Grainger.

    Songs of the gandy dancers

    In America, the African slaves continued the traditions of song, often improvising words to fit the circumstances. There were songs for cotton-picking (sometimes with acid remarks about the white boss when he was out of earshot). With the end of slavery, African American laborers continued the tradition of improvising songs or chants to accompany their work, on the railroad or in construction.

    The "gandy dancers" were the track workers on the railroads, in the days before mechanical cranes and steam shovels, like the men pictured in the tintype shown above. (We notice the plump white supervisor standing on the right of the picture.) In the North, the gandy dancers were generally white, many Irish or German. In the South, they were usually Black. Even after the track was laid, crews would periodically have to straighten the track, shoved out of alignment by the constant passing of the heavy trains above. A long line of men with crowbars would stand on one side of the rail, using brute force to rhythmically heave it into place, moving in unison. Spiking the rails in place also required teamwork. It was generally a two-man job, with one man on each side of the rail, striking the spike in fast alternating strokes. The work of the gandy dancers was accompanied by songs or chants, like the sea shanties of sailors. These served two functions, to help keep the rhythm of the work, and to motivate the workers. These chants usually followed a call-and-response pattern, which we find as an important component of jazz. One member of the crew, the "caller," chants a verse of some kind, answered by the others as they heave the rail, thus, giving a heave at each "huh":

    Up and down this road I go
    Skippin' and dodging a 44
    Hey man won't you line 'um...huh
    Hey won't you line 'um...huh
    Hey won't you line 'um...huh
    Hey won't you line 'um...huh

    The caller might choose different topics for the initial verse, turning to sexual jokes if the men were tired and needed encouragement (but these latter only when they were out of earshot of women and children and of the white railroad owners).

    An example of improvisation

    Improvisation to fit the circumstances was an important part of these songs, as it would be for jazz. My own father, Robert M. Angier, describes two examples from Black crews he witnessed when on a summer job with his father's civil engineering firm early in the twentieth century. He recorded them in his book Why Poetry, in the chapter called "Marching Songs."

    "... I recall a crew, in Memphis, Tennessee, who worked as a team putting together the forms for the reinforced concrete piling (which I was there to inspect) at the successive commands which, although not verse, rolled rhythmically from the lips of the gang boss. It went something like this:

    "Pick up de one side:
    Set in de cage:
    Pick up t'othah side:
    Stick in the pins:
    Shake 'im!

    "Ain't got but one eye!" piped a youth.

    "Whut ain't got but one eye?" intoned the boss.

    "Dis hyeah fawm! [form]" answered the youth. One of the lugs on the edge of the half-octagonal steel sheet had broken off, so that the linking strip could not be fastened. With a brief glance in my direction, the gang boss chanted:

    "Git a wy-ah!"[wire]

    One of the men produced a length of wire which, when looped around the remaining opposite lug and passed under the form, shaped a temporary eyelet for the other side, while all the other men stood at attention until, the loop made and the pin run through, the final command was given:

    "Cah-yeh it 'way!"

    Another group, working on "double tracking" and elevating roadbed along the Des Plaines River, near Chicago, included one fellow who, I heard him tell the foreman, wanted to "go back to Bobo, Mississippi. B-o-b-o," he spelled it out carefully, in case the foreman might not know. And later I heard him cogitating vocally, to the rhythm of spike maul or tamping bar:

    "Ah won-dah of a soot-case'll hol mah clo's!"

    "Matchbox'll hol' yuah clo's!" jibed another, and, with perfect calm, without missing a beat, the first continued his improvised chant, but changed the "lyric" (!) to read:

    "Ah won-dah of a match-box'll hol' mah clo's!"

    Fusion of African and European music traditions

    In America, African traditions of complicated, syncopated rhythms, call and response, improvisation, and rhythmic chanting rather than European-style melodic development and orchestration were fused with European musical traditions in many ways. As African slaves adopted Christianity, forms of gospel music and spirituals came into being. In popular entertainment, ragtime fused syncopated polyrhythms with the band music popularized by John Philip Sousa. Ragtime was played on pianos by "professors" in "sporting houses" (bordellos) in the Storyville section of New Orleans. ("Storyville" was the popular name given to a red-light district defined by legislation proposed by City Councilman Sidney Story, to the councilman's embarrassment.)

    Ragtime, particularly associated with the "King of Ragtime" Scott Joplin (composer of the "Maple Leaf Rag," among many other pieces), was the first African-American music to have an impact on the wider American and European public. It was popularized in polite mainstream culture by its playing by "society" dance bands. Ragtime even influenced such classical composers as Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, and Igor Stravinsky. Percy Grainger's first exposure to jazz was the ragtime that he heard in the music halls of London.

    Spanish, Afro-Cuban, and Creole influences also made their way into the development of African American music.

    The "Swing Era" and the big band sound

    If the 1920's were the Jazz Era, the 1930's the Swing Era. Jazz became more orchestral, with the addition of stringed instruments. Swing, with its swinging danceable beat, kept the percussive rhythms of the African heritage, along with the call-and-response concept of alternating melodic statement of a theme with solo riffs and variations, sometimes keeping only the chord structure of the original melody. They also introduced new instruments, such as the saxophone, an instrument scorned by classical musicians. Jazz also incorporated the use of glissandos and glides, often featuring "blue notes," or the "notes between the notes," often flatted thirds, fifths, and sevenths, and sometimes microtonal notes that were not part of the usual well-tempered scale. (Percy Grainger would later relate these microtones to his concept of Free Music.)

    As Blacks migrated north to various northern cities out of the Deep South during the Great Migration, different styles of jazz developed, such as St. Louis Jazz, Kansas City Jazz, and Chicago Jazz. Many Black musicians from New Orleans, including Louis Armstrong and his mentor, "King" Oliver, who had played in Storyville, went to Chicago. Some popular band leaders were Black, like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington, but many were white, like Paul Whiteman, styled the "King of Jazz" and Benny Goodman, the "King of Swing," who led one of the first integrated jazz groups.

    Modern developments

    In the era following the years we are discussing, the jazz heritage has influenced many forms of popular music, including soul, disco, and rock and roll, moving ever farther from its origins. Interestingly, Black musical forms have arisen that return to the rebellious roots of those original chants, namely rap and the associated hiphop culture. These compositions, like their forbears, depend not on melody but on a rhythmic patter and on trenchant commentary on events in the life of the singer and his audience. First associated with gangs in the form of "gangsta rap," these compositions also grew out of "the dozens," a game in which contestants try to outdo each other in trading insults, often involving the contestants' mothers. These could take the form of rhyming verses or single lines. (Example: "Yo momma so stupid it takes her an hour to cook Minute Rice".) Boxer Muhammad Ali frequently used such playful versified insults when speaking to reporters, simply leaving them confused. Rap, like jazz before it, has also been taken up by white musicians, with performers like white rapper Eminem, and has gone mainstream, as with popular female rapper Cardi B. Rap has also traveled abroad, to countries like South Korea, where it appears as K Pop.

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