Celebrating Grainger 2011 Kings Place, York Way, London, 17th-19th February
Percy Grainger once declared his aim in life was to “follow my lusts and compose now and then on the side.” He succeeded in the first aim, engaging in lifelong sado-masochistic sex usually with Nordic girls (Grainger was an unabashed racist who regretted the tainting of English stock with Norman blood.) But his composing was more than a sideshow and is far more substantial than an acquaintance with “Country Gardens”—the extent of most people’s knowledge—might suggest.
Grainger was one of the 20th century’s great radicals, who belongs in the company of Varèse and Busoni. He wanted to cast off the rigidities of western music to create something wild and untrammelled. In that quest he called on many things: folk music, micro-tones and chance procedures that foreshadow John Cage. In his old age he even invented electronic instruments. To mark the 50th anniversary of Grainger’s death, Kings Place is mounting a three-day festival of his music. It includes a rare performance of his spellbinding abstract ballet The Warriors, as well as song recitals, choral concerts and his tremendous wind-band pieces including “Lincolnshire Posy.”