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Born on 8 July 1882 in Brighton, Victoria, Australia. Studied music in Frankfurt around 1900, established himself as a piano virtuoso in England, although in later life confessed that he hated the piano as an instrument, regretted writing music for it, and that the public performances he gave terrified him. When he first started composing, he vowed to withhold his work from the public for fear his new, innovative music would be met with hostility. This was partly true as in his early career in piano composition he became known as a 'composer of keyboard trifles'. Grainger looked up to the French composers Ravel and Debussy and gave many of the first public performances of their work. He was also friends with and looked up to Faure, whose work Nell Grainger transcribed in 1925. Moved to the U.S. 1914 and became an American citizen, although he also described himself as an Austrailian. He was in the U.S. Army Bands for a brief period in which he wrote County Gardens. He taught in Chicago and New York and established the ethnomusicological center at the University of Melbourne. On 20th February 1961, he died in New York, and is now buried in the family grave at Adelaide, South Australia. He is known for his tuneful short works for orchestra, piano, and concert band.

Of his own work, Grainger has said:
'One reason why things of mine like Molly and Shepherd's Hey are as good is because there is so little gaiety and fun to them. Where other composers would have been jolly in setting such dances tunes I have been sad or furious. My dance settings are energetic rather than gay.'

And on his use of harmony:
'My efforts even in those young days, were to wrench the listener's heart with my chords. It is a subtle matter, and is not achieved by mere discordance. . . It is the contrast between the sweet and the harsh. . . that is heart-rending. . . And the worth of my music will never be guessed, or its value to mankind felt, until the approach to my music is consciously undertaken as a pilgrimage to sorrows.'

Grainger's Works
(there are more than 100, so this is just a sampling)
Country Gardens
Irish Tune from County Derry
Molly on the Shore
Shepherd's Daughter
Shepherd's Hey
To a Nordic Princess
Walking Tune
Sailor's Song
Eastern Intermezzo
Mock Morris
Lincolnshire Posy
Children March: Over the Hills and Far Away
Spoon River
Handel in the Strand
Early One Morning
Green Bushes
Ye Banks and Braes
Tribute to Foster
English Folk Songs

On a personal note, I love Grainger about as much as I love my own father. Irish Tune never fails to move me to tears, as for four years in high school we played it at our final concert. When I was drum major, the ballad in the show was Shenandoah. Grainger was an amazingly talented man.


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