“Country Gardens” is the best-known work of the Australian-born American composer, arranger, and pianist Percy Grainger. Its score bears this note: "Birthday-gift, Mother, July 3, 1918." Grainger’s mother Rose was responsible for his excellent early musical training.
In 1918, Grainger arranged a folk tune given to him in 1908 by Cecil Sharp, a major figure in the folklore revival in England. Grainger titled his arrangement “Country Gardens,” and it went over so well at his recitals that Grainger decided to have it published.
It was a big hit and broke sales records. In fact, until his death in 1961, its sales generated a significant portion of Grainger’s annual income. Like other composers with a mega-hit, Grainger came to resent being known for just one tune and would say to audiences: “The typical English country garden is not often used to grow flowers. It’s more likely to be a vegetable plot. So you can think of turnips as I play it”.
In 1931, “Country Gardens” was arranged for wind band by someone other than Grainger, but around 1950, at the special request of a Detroit band director, Grainger prepared his own wind band arrangement, which likewise became a hit.
Music Played in Today's Program
Percy Grainger Country Gardens Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra;Timothy Reynish Chandos 9549
On This Day
1854 - Czech composer Leo Janácek, in Hukvaldy, Moravia
1878 - American song composer George M. Cohan, in Providence, R.I.; He mistakenly believed he was "born on the Fourth of July" as his popular song "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" states; In 1978 the centennial of his birth was honored with a U.S. postage stamp issued on this date
1879 - French composer and conductor Philippe Gaubert, in Cahors
1901 - American composer and American folksong compiler, Ruth Crawford (Seeger), in East Liverpool, Ohio; She was the second wife of the eminent American composer and ethnomusicologist, Charles Seeger (1886-1979); Charles Seeger's son by his first marriage became the famous American folksinger, Pete Seeger
1926 - American composer Meyer Kupferman, in New York City
1966 - American composer, writer, and broadcaster, Deems Taylor, age 80, in New York City; For many years he was a broadcast commentator for the national broadcasts of both the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera (Two of his operas were staged at the Met); In 1967, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) established the Deems Taylor Awards for excellence in the fields of music criticism, journalism, and broadcasting; Composers Datebook won a Deems Taylor Award in 2000
1998 - English romantic composer George Lloyd, age 85
1944 - Robert Wright & George Forest: musical "The Song of Norway" (based on the music of Norwegian composer Edward Grieg), during trial run in San Francisco; The musical opened in New York on August 21, 1944
1964 - Robert Ward: opera, "The Lady From Colorado," in Central City, Colorado;
1967 - Havergal Brian: Symphony No. 4 ("Das Siegeslied") in London; This symphony was composed in 1929
1976 - Hovhaness: Violin Concerto ("Ode to Freedom") at Wolf Trap, with André Kostelanetz conducting and Yehudi Menuhin the soloist.
1848 - American music publisher Theodore Presser is born in Pittsburgh; In 1883 he founded in Philadelphia the famous music monthly, "The Etude" (which discontinued publication in 1957), and shortly thereafter the Philadelphia-based Presser music publishing firm; He was also a co-founder of the Music Teachers National Association
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About Composers Datebook®
Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.
He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.