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   Grainger: Conflict and Musical Resolve Robert Scarff MUSC-312 Music History II Dr. Zavlunov April 19 th , 2018   Abstract While he is commonly remembered as a simple composer who did not struggle to get through life, Grainger experienced numerous hardships that continued to affect his physical and mental well-being. The infrequency with which Percy Grainger’s piece  The Power of Rome and The Christian Heart is performed today reflects a lack of appreciation for it and its construction. The purpose of this paper is to establish the numerous instances of conflict in Grainger’s life that would lead him to write The Power of Rome and The Christian Heart and to uncover how he was able to realize this frustration at the height of his compositional ability. I hope to show that, even though Grainger insisted the piece was not autobiographical, through music’s construction and methods of thematic development that The Power of Rome and The Christian Heart   does represent his own life’s misfortunes.  1 Grainger: Conflict and Musical Resolve Because of his unconventional up-bringing, pacifist outlook, and progressive conceptualizations of music, Percy Grainger frequently found himself embattled with the culture that surrounded him. This turmoil compelled Grainger to write his final work for wind band, The  Power of Rome and The Christian Heart  , which is an expression of Grainger’s unyielding  feelings of philosophical isolation. 1882-1914 On July 8 th , 1882 George Percy Grainger was born to John Harry Grainger and Rosa Annie Aldridge. Because of his difficult delivery, Rose became overtly protective over Percy. 1   John and Rose’s relationship was far from ideal. They consistently butted heads until John finally left but not before contracting syphilis and passing it to Rose. From fear of spreading the disease to Percy, Rose hired a maid, Annie, who would give him physical attention through his early childhood. The need for a maid and the disintegration of Rose and John ’s  relationship caused a massive financial and emotional strain on Rose and Percy. Percy took nearly no part in formal education; after being bullied heavily for three months in 1894, Rose decided to homeschool him. 2  This would later stunt Percy Grainger socially because at the time he could not maintain friendships with children that were his age. In 1895, Grainger and his mother departed for Frankfurt, Germany where he will study  piano with James Kwast and composition with Ivan Knorr at the Hoch Conservatorium. It was at this time Grainger began conceptualizing “free music” - music that was beatless and devoid of 1  John Bird,  Percy Grainger (London: Faber and Faber, 1982), 7. 2  Ibid., 20.  2 any scalar or harmonic influen ce. Knorr became increasingly critical of Grainger’s ideas and their relationship fell apart. 3  While in Frankfurt, Percy was able to make friendships with names such as Roger Quilter, Cyril Scott, and Balfour Gardiner. 4  Grainger would fail to make friendships these precious later in life. In addition to being over protective, Rose managed much of Percy’s romantic life. For example, Rose wanted Percy to engage Kwast’s daughter Mimi in a relationship. However, neither cared for each and, instead, Percy helped Mimi into another relationship. 5  Due to her health setbacks, the turn of the century brought a shift in the role of primary  provider from Rose to Percy. Grainger was to pursue a performance career at this time because it was more lucrative than being a composer. He states, “my mother had become an invalid, constantly threatened with paralysis, and from then on my main anxiety was to be able to earn enough as a concert pianist.” 6  He expands on this saying, “With this in mind, I vowed not to  publish the main body of my compositions until I was forty; for I feared the radical nature of much of my music would stir up animosities against me that would undermine my earning power as a pianist.” 7  Grainger, aware that his music may cause him denunciation, exhibited restraint by limiting his compositional output. Grainger moved to London and made a remarkably successful debut in 1901. It was here that Percy met Ada Crossley. As a fellow musician and Australian, Crossley introduced Percy to the local inner circles. Percy began to loathe performing for the social elite. He writes, “the years 3  Penelope Thwaites, ed., The New Percy Grainger Companion (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2016), 16. 4  Bird,  Percy Grainger  , 38. 5  Thwaites, ed., The New Percy Grainger Companion , 31. 6  Percy Grainger and Kay Dreyfus, The Farthest North of Humanness: Letters of Percy Grainger, 1901-14, (Melbourne: Macmillan, 1985), 21. 7  Bird,  Percy Grainger  , 47.
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