Percy Grainger's Timeline

Composer and pianist Percy Grainger described himself as an 'all-round man'. He had both an intense curiosity and an analytical mind, as represented in the collection he amassed for his autobiographical museum. This timeline plots some key moments in his creative development and significant events in his life.

1854

John Harry Grainger (Percy Grainger's father) born in London.

John Harry Grainger, c1879

1861

Rosa (Rose) Annie Aldridge (Percy Grainger's mother) born in Adelaide, South Australia.

Rose Grainger, c.1880

1880

Rose Aldridge marries John Harry Grainger in Adelaide.

St. Matthew's, Kensington. 1877. View of a busy street in Kensington, with St. Matthew's Church partially visible on the right. The drawing is a reproduction of a pencil sketch which has been tinted. Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia.

1882

George Percy Grainger born in Brighton, Victoria.

Percy Grainger, 1882.

1890

John Harry Grainger leaves the family home.

Foster & Martin, John Harry Grainger, Dr Henry O'Hara and Frank Gates, c1892.

1891

Grainger begins to study acting and painting with Thomas A. Sisley and drawing with Frederick McCubbin.

Rose Grainger, c.1897 by Percy Grainger. Watercolour on paper.

1894

Grainger’s first public performance as a pianist in the Masonic Hall, Melbourne.

A. & W. Bruce (printers), Melbourne Program for Grainger concert at the Melbourne Masonic Hall, 10 September 1894.

1895

Grainger leaves Australia with his mother Rose to study music at the Hoch Conservatorium, Frankfurt, Germany.

Percy Grainger, Rose Grainger and others at ‘Pension Pfaff’, Blumenstrasse, Frankfurt, c. 1895.

1901

Moves to London, where he launches his career as a virtuoso pianist.

Publicity poster for a recital by Percy Grainger at the Aeolian Hall, London, Thursday 13 June 1907

1903 - 1904

Grainger tours Australasia with contralto Ada Crossley.

Ada Crossley's farewell concert at the Exhibition Building, Melbourne, 9 January 1904.

1904

First concert tour of Denmark, with Herman Sandby.

Alfhild de Luce, Percy Grainger and Herman Sandby on tour in Denmark 1904 -1905.

Meets and begins relationship with Karen Holten.

Karen Holten.

1905

Begins to collect folksong in England, pioneering the use of the Edison Phonograph in the field.

The Edison Standard Phonograph used by Percy Grainger to record folk songs on wax cylinders.

1906

Meets composer Edvard Grieg, leading to an important friendship cut short by Grieg’s sudden death the following year. Grieg had praised Grainger’s interpretation of his Norwegian Peasant Dances and Grainger championed Grieg’s music for the rest of his life.

Edvard Grieg, Percy Grainger, Nina Grieg and Julius Röntgen. July 1907.

1908

Makes first recordings with the Gramophone Company.

Percy Grainger. 'Piano Concerto in A minor Op 16'. Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) Movement 1: Cadenza recorded 16 May 1908.

Sketches an arrangement of the Morris dancing tune Country Gardens, collected by Cecil Sharp. His hugely successful piano arrangement was published ten years later.

Piano score of Grainger's arrangement of Country Gardens.

1911

Adopts the name of Percy Aldridge Grainger, concurrently with the publication of his music by Schott & Co.

Publisher's proof copies of the Schott revised edition of Irish Tune From County Derry with Percy Grainger's corrections.

1912 - 1913

His public career as a composer and arranger begins with the series of choral and orchestral concerts organised by Henry Balfour Gardiner.

Programme for the first concert in the Balfour Gardiner Choral and Orchestral Concert series, 13 March 1912.

1913

Begins writing The warriors: Music for an imaginary ballet.

Detail of Grainger's manuscript for the full orchestral score of The Warriors, 1916.

1914

Percy and Rose emigrate to the United States of America.

Rose and Percy Grainger, New York City, c.1915. Aime Dupont, New York.

1915

Undertakes first American tour.

Warmly Yrs, Percy Grainger, Nov 1915.

1916

Collaborates in recitals with Nellie Melba in support of the Allied War Effort.

Cover of the Melba-Grainger Concert in aid of the Allied War Effort.

1917

John Harry Grainger dies.

Portrait of John Grainger, taken by Bartletto in 1901 (Bartletto).

Percy enlists in the US Army as a bandsman.

Percy Grainger, Fort Hamilton, New York, 1917. Underwood & Underwood (Photographers), New York.

1918

Grainger becomes a naturalised American citizen.

Detail of Grainger's certificate of naturalization from the United States Department of Labor.

1922

Death of Rose Grainger

Rose Grainger in her coffin, 1922. Frederick Morse, New York.

1924

Visits the Pacific Islands and Australasia.

Walks from Tailem Bend to Keith, South Australia.

Dressed for South Australian desert tramp, taken at Richmond Park, Adelaide, 1924.

1926

Meets Swedish poet and painter Ella Viola Ström on the S.S. Aorangi.

Ella Ström, 1927 (E.O. Hoppė).

1928

Percy and Ella marry on the stage of the Hollywood Bowl. Dedicates his composition To A Nordic Princess to his bride.

Percy Grainger and Ella Viola Ström on their Wedding Day, 9 August 1928.

1929

Organises the Festival of British Music at Harrogate, inviting members of the ‘Frankfurt Gang’ to participate, including Roger Quilter, Cyril Scott and Norman O’Neill.

Percy Grainger, Cyril Scott and Roger Quilter at Harrogate Festival.

Visits the National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan for the first time. Teaches at the Camp from 1937 to 1944.

Percy Grainger teaching a class at the National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan, c 1942.

1931

Attends the Haslemere Festival, organised by Arnold Dolmetsch.

Dolmetsch Family and Assistants, 24 November 1932. Fox Photos Agency.

1932

Appointed Head of Music Department, New York University.

Irving Mills, Percy Grainger and Duke Ellington, 1932. Empire

1934

Concert and lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Publicity portrait of Percy Grainger, 1926 (Ruskin Studios, Melbourne).

Establishes the Grainger Museum in the grounds of the University of Melbourne.

Percy Grainger and Frank Hansen on west end of roof scaffolding.

Establishes the Grainger Museum in the grounds of the University of Melbourne.

Percy Grainger and Frank Hansen on west end of roof scaffolding.

1937

Adapts folk songs collected in 1905–1906 into the Lincolnshire Posy suite.

Lincolnshire Posy, version for wind band. Tuned percussion part in Grainger's hand.

1938

Grainger Museum opens.

Percy Grainger outside the Museum, 13 December 1938.

1947

Kipling Jungle Book settings published as a cycle.

Grainger's copy of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.

1950

Awarded National Institute of Arts and Letters, considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States.

Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in recognition of Percy Grainger's distinguished work in the arts.

1950s

Works with physicist Burnett Cross on Free Music experiments.

Percy Aldridge Grainger. Kangaroo pouch method of synchronising and playing 8 oscillators, 1952. Watercolour and ink on paper.

1955 - 1956

Last visit to Australia. Works on Museum displays, including Legends.

British Women Composers Museum Legend. n.d., probably May 1956. Grainger may have run out of time to finish this

1960

Gives his last public concert performance.

Program for the Third Annual Dartmouth Festival of Music in which Grainger performed for the last time. April

1961

Percy Grainger dies at White Plains, New York, USA. Buried at West Terrace cemetery, Adelaide.

Close-up photograph of Percy Grainger's eyes, 1950 (Burnett Cross).

1979

Ella Grainger dies.

Ella Grainger at White Plains.