Unaccountably, Percy Grainger has remained on the margins of both American music history and twentieth-century modernism. This volume reveals the well-known composer of popular gems to be a self-described ’hyper-modernist’ who composed works of uncompromising dissonance, challenged the conventions of folk song collection and adaptation, re-visioned the modern orchestra, experimented with ’ego-less’ composition and designed electronic machines intended to supersede human application. Grainger was far from being a self-sufficient maverick working in isolation. Through contact with innovators such as Ferrucio Busoni, Léon Theremin and Henry Cowell; promotion of the music of modern French and Spanish schools; appreciation of vernacular, jazz and folk musics; as well as with the study and transcription of non-Western music; he contested received ideas and proposed many radical new approaches. By reappraising Grainger’s social and historical connectedness and exploring the variety of aspects of modernity seen in his activities in the British, American and Australian contexts, the authors create a profile of a composer, propagandist and visionary whose modernist aesthetic paralleled that of the most advanced composers of his day, and, in some cases, anticipated their practical experiments.
Grainger the Modernist
'[The editors] reveal aspects of Grainger's art never before considered, or at least not widely known. Grainger's interests were wildly varied. Here we find him immersed in early British folk songs and the music and culture of Polynesia. Forays into modernist French and Spanish music are explored. Other interests include minstrelsy, ragtime, improvisatory music, and electronic music.' American Record Guide 'The book discusses the negative reception to some of Percy's dissonant music and also delves into his relationship with Henry Cowell whose jailing for indecent acts was a scandal. Collectively, the authors identify the aspects of Grainger's life showing him to be a modernist equal to the most avant garde composers of his day.' The Delian