The Kennedy Center

Handel in the Strand

About the Work

George Grainger Composer: George Percy Grainger
© Richard Freed

Percy Grainger's impact on the music of his time has yet to be fully evaluated. He was passionately and restlessly active as a composer, pianist, folk-song collector, writer, editor and teacher. Trained in England, befriended by the likes of Delius and Grieg (who regarded Grainger as an outstanding interpreter of his famous Piano Concerto), he became a U.S. citizen in 1914, served in uniform in World War I, and in 1928 he was married during a concert of his works at the Hollywood Bowl. In the Kindler years, Grainger performed with the National Symphony Orchestra more frequently than any other soloist—more than a dozen times—and at least one of his works, the Youthful Suite, was given its premiere here, in 1946.

The music by which Grainger is most frequently represented comes from his several "British Folk Music" collections, but many of his original works are imbued with the character and of folk music, the present piece definitely among them. Handel in the Strand, designated a clog dance (to be performed with or without actual dancing),is typical, too, in having been redone in various instrumental versions over a period of decades. Grainger composed it in 1911, "for piano and two or more strings, or for massed pianos and string orchestra." He arranged a version for piano solo in 1930, an orchestral one (with solo piano) in 1932, one for piano duet in 1947, and still later he made a final arrangement which he recorded, as pianist, with his old friend Leopold Stokowski conducting a specially assembled orchestra in New York in 1950. The version Leonard Slatkin has chosen, however, is one which the British conductor Sir Henry J. Wood arranged for his Promenade Concerts in London in 19

Grainger provided a brief note on the piece in which he stated:

My title was originally Clog Dance. But my dear friend William Gair Rathbone (to whom the piece is dedicated) suggested the title Handel in the Strand, because the music seemed to reflect both Handel and English musical comedy (the "Strand" is the home of London musical comedy). [At various points] I have made use of matter from some variations of mine on Handel's "Harmonious Blacksmith" tune.