Self-Portrait of Percy Grainger

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Malcolm Gillies, David Pear, Mark Carroll
Oxford University Press, Jun 29, 2006 - Music - 330 pages
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Shortly before his death, Percy Grainger (1882-1961) lodged over twenty unpublished sketches in his Australian Museum. Self-Portrait of Percy Grainger draws exclusively from these sketches, revealing for the first time an illuminating portrait of the composer's life. With such titles as "The Aldridge-Grainger-Strom Saga," "Thunks," "Ere-I-Forget," "The Love-Life of Helen and Paris," and "Anecdotes," these manuscripts were intended as precursors to Grainger's autobiography, My Wretched Tone-Life, which he only commenced in his final years. Expertly shaping these sketches, the editors have created a "self-portrait" along the lines that Grainger himself had intended. The volume first introduces Grainger's forebears, parents, friends, wife, and himself before moving on to his views on composition, performance, and the musical world. In these sketches, Grainger addresses such topics as racial and national identity, the meaning of work, physical culture, language reform, sexual practice, and artistic patronage. Grainger also probes the nature of musical genius, discussing a broad range of composers including Igor Stravinsky, Thomas Beecham, Frederick Delius, Edvard Grieg, Charles Stanford, Cyril Scott, Fritz Kreisler, Donald Tovey, Ferruccio Busoni, and Balfour Gardiner. Among the works of his own that Grainger most featured are his The Warriors --Music for an Imaginary Ballet, Colonial Song, the Lincolnshire Posy series of band pieces, his greatest "hit" Country Gardens, and his many settings of English folk-music. Written in Grainger's own self-created "Nordic English" as well as translated from Danish, the language of his most intimate confessions, Self-Portrait of Percy Grainger sheds light on some of the most revealing details of the composer's life. The sketches trace Grainger's changing self-perception, from the romantically tinged, even lustful, views of his forties and fifties, through a period of wistfulness in his sixties, to the bitterness and self-loathing of his old age. The volume also includes several of Grainger's own drawings as well as both public and private photographs. A fascinating and revealing collection of vignettes, this extraordinary book will appeal to instructors, students, and enthusiasts in musicology, music history, cultural studies, and Australian, British, and American history.

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About the author (2006)

Malcolm Gillies is a vice-president of The Australian National University and a leading figure in Australian higher education and research. As a musicologist, he has written extensively on twentieth-century music, including major studies of Béla Bartók and Percy Grainger. Since 1997 he has been the editor of the series Studies in Musical Genesis and Structure, published by Oxford University Press. David Pear is a senior lecturer at Monash University (Australia) and a fellow of the Humanities Research Centre in Canberra. He holds a PhD from The University of Queensland, and other qualifications in theology, education, and music. Pear has been a co-editor of letter, reminiscence, and autobiographical volumes of Grainger's writings, and has worked extensively in the Grainger Museum (Melbourne). Mark Carroll is a senior lecturer in Music at the Elder School of Music, University of Adelaide (Australia), from which he holds his doctoral degree. For several decades he has worked as a professional classical and popular musician. His recent publications include Music and Ideology in Cold War Europe (2003), and a co-edited volume of Grainger essays. Carroll is also a researcher for The Australian Ballet.

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