Percy Grainger America
Percy Grainger's Early Years in the House
Percy Grainger, and his mother, Rose, moved into 7 Cromwell Place in White Plains, New York in early May, 1921. At the time, the house was in a tree-filled neighborhood of gracious homes, and visitors entered after passing a generously shaded veranda. The idyllic home and lifestyle Grainger envisioned was short-lived as his mother fell to her death in New York City, an apparent suicide, in 1922. For several years, Percy avoided his home in White Plains as he traveled and performed around the world.
In 1926, returning from Australia, he met Ella Viola Brandaleus Strom. On August 9, 1928, he and Ella married on the stage of the Hollywood Bowl in California. They returned to White Plains and set up 7 Cromwell Place as their home base until Percy’s death thirty-five years later, in February 1961.
After Percy’s death, Ella continued to live in the house. Helping musicians locate performing material was a frequent demand, as was the hosting of scholarly research and an ever-increasing number of people, mainly musicians, who wanted to tour the house because of its historic significance. Ella tackled and began organizing the piles of Grainger papers, recordings, and memorabilia that surrounded her.
One of Ella’s early efforts to preserve Percy's legacy resulted in a New York State Regent’s charter for the “Percy Grainger Library Society,” granted provisionally in 1964, and permanently on September 26, 1969. The house was soon placed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. Reflecting its broadening focus and membership, the organization later changed its name to the International Percy Grainger Society.
In 1970, after a Grainger festival in London, biographers were starting to show interest. John Bird completed an extensive biography entitled Percy Grainger in 1982, revised 1989. Other biographies include:
Percy Grainger: The Inveterate Innovator (1974) by Thomas C. Slattery
The Farthest North of Humanness: Letters 1901-1914 by Percy Grainger (1985) by Kay Dreyfus
The New Percy Grainger Companion (2010) edited by Penelope Thwaites.
In addition, a Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger was compiled by Thomas P. Lewis in 1990.
International Percy Grainger Society Today
In June 2016, 7 Cromwell Place was toured by the newly created White Plains Historical Commission and designated a local landmark.
The steadfast IPGS board still holds its annual meeting each spring and various volunteers continue the work of maintaining the house and supporting Grainger’s musical legacy. To join in this work, become a member here.