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Grainger, Percy

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Percy Grainger was born in was born in Australia in 1882 and died in the USA in 1961, having become an American citizen.  Encouraged by his doting mother, he became a virtuoso pianist at a young age, and in 1895 he and his mother set out for Europe to further his musical career.  Whilst studying the piano, he became interested in folk song and set about exploring folk music, firstly of Scandanavia and then from 1904 onwards, in England.  He was one of the first song collectors to make use of the phonograph to make sound recordings of singers, from which he was able to study and analyse the music in great detail.  He made important recordings of source singers in Lincolnshire, including the impressive Joseph Taylor of Brigg.

His contacts with high society lead to an invitation to visit Gloucestershire where Eliza Wedgwood and her friend Sheila Rathbone were becoming interested in researching and collecting local songs.  He made 3 visits to Gloucestershire in 1907, 1908 and 1909, noting some 60 songs from source singers, mainly from the workhouse at Winchcombe.  Some of the recordings and manuscripts survive.  Although Grainger made some extensive transcriptions of some of the songs, he did not publish any.  On his death, the material came to the Library of Congress in Washington DC.