Percy Grainger took an interest in the folk music of England. This happened while he was living there in the early 20th Century and an overall interest in gathering and preserving folk music was at its height.
People such as
Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams, a close friend of Grainger, worried
that the countryside was disappearing due to the increase in industry and
with it went the variety of local dialects.
Country Gardens was written in the early 20th Century as a result of the work Grainger performed by collecting folk music throughout the United Kingdom. It is said that the melody is derived from a medieval source. The source was collected by Cecil J Sharp and published in "Morris Dance Tunes" by Sharp and Herbert C. Macilwaine (Novello & Co., Ltd., London). Originally, this tune was called Handkerchief Dance.
Grainger originally set this tune as a piano setting. It was written as a birthday present for his mother on July 8, 1918, and dedicated to the memory of his friend Edvard Grieg. Ironically, the original composer of the melody is not known, but Percy Grainger has received much acclaim for his rendition of this very old tune.
The following is a list of all the variations of Country Gardens. You'll note that there are many!!
Country Gardens (English Morris
Dance Tune) [BFMS22]
salon orchestra (arr. Artok)
orchestra (arr. Schmid)
piano solo (easy version)
piano solo (very easy version)
2 pianos (4 hands)
1 piano (4 hands)
2 pianos (8 hands)
accordion (arr. Diero)
descant and treble recorder and piano (arr. Bergmann)
flute, violin and cello (arr. Gray)
piano and strings (arr. King)
saxophone sextet (arr. Cawkwell)
descant and treble recorder
for 2 instruments in C
mixed chorus a cappella (arr. Tall)
male chorus a cappella (arr. Tall)
women’s chorus a cappella (arr. Tall)
2-part female chorus a cappella (arr. Tall)
chorus and orchestra (arr. McCarthy)
organ solo (arr. Keedy)
wind band (ed. Clark)
wind band (arr. Sousa)
Country Gardens (2nd version)
orchestra (Stokowski version)
wind band (ed. Brion)
wind band (ed. Kreines)
ensemble (1952 version) (ed. Ould)
2 pianos (4 hands) (arr. Smith)
piano solo (transc. Stevenson)
This list courtesy of www.bardic-music.com/pag.htm
The humble beginnings of this piece
and its cousins in the folk song genre are not evident when listening to
the music. As a result of Grainger's obsession with preserving British
folk music, we have some very wonderful music to listen to and perform!
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