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The Wider Implications of Percy Grainger’s ‘Free Music’

  • Sun, March 03, 2024
  • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • 7 Cromwell Place, White Plains, NY 10601

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Come view our new exhibit! Discover how the Percy Grainger Home and Studio functioned as a creative workshop! The exhibition, Tone, Rhythm, Pitch: Exploring Percy Grainger’s Free Music, continues to showcase Grainger’s work in Free Music and demonstrates, through objects, images and text, how the White Plains home was an active creative work space.

A Closer Look at Grainger's 'Free Music' 

Percy Grainger was one of the few creative voices of the 20th Century to stress the importance of the future of music, placing it even above the present. He saw the future as ideally being one of freedom and flexibility. He equated this freedom in music with the pursuit of a type of spiritual freedom in which all of humanity would at last be able to express itself in a peace-loving, democratic, harmonious-with-nature way.

As a young man Grainger gained the courage to risk his reputation as a pianist and popular composer of light-hearted pleasant works to write daring harmonies with complex irregular rhythms. In middle age he took up the cause of lesser-known composers and encouraged the appreciation of music from all cultures and all times. And as the years advanced, he devoted himself more and more to the development of his ‘Free Music’ ideals and their implementation in the physical world through the development of the Cross-Grainger Free Music Machines.

It’s not just Grainger’s beautiful melodies, touching harmonies, innovative rhythms and exquisite orchestrations that are at last coming to the fore, but also his equally iconoclastic ideas about the spiritual uses of music and the measuring of freedom in music to freedom in our lives. It is not just the sound of Grainger’s ‘Free Music’ that matters but the concept behind that sound.

Percy Grainger Home & Studio

Percy Grainger occupied the house at 7 Cromwell Place from 1921 until his death in 1961, using it as his home base for his world tours, practice studio and laboratory for his avant-garde musical compositions and experimental music machines. After Percy Grainger’s death in 1961, his widow Ella continued to live in the house until her passing in 1979. This historic house, built in 1893, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in April of 1993.

The event is free and open to the public. Due to space limitations, registration is encouraged. Join Teresa to explore some of these concepts and wider implications of the Free Music sounds.

Teresa Balough, who is an adjunct professor of music history at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been studying the life and work of Percy Grainger for many years, since the publication of her A Complete Catalogue of the Works of Percy Grainger in 1975. She is the author of The Life and Work of Percy Aldridge Grainger: Till Life Become Fire (2023), co-editor of Distant Dreams: the Free Music Correspondence of Burnett Cross and Percy Grainger 1944–1960 (2020) and has published three other books and numerous essays, articles and monographs on Grainger.

The Percy Grainger Society's events are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

7 Cromwell Place, White Plains, NY 10601

info@percygrainger.org

Tel: (914) 281-1610

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The Percy Grainger Society's programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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