George Percy Grainger

An Australian-born composer, pianist, saxophone expert and a concert band performer, who was well known early in the 20th century, he worked under the stage name of Percy Aldridge Grainger. He was an only child. His father was John Harry Grainger, a successful architect. His mother was Rosa Annie Aldridge, domineering and possessive, she groomed her son for almost 40 years, as she was a great influence in his life. At age 11 his parents separated, his father was an alcoholic. Early in his parents marriage his mother contracted syphilis from her husband thus ending their marriage and over time the illness may have contributed toward making her go insane. She would committed suicide after rumors were leaked about an inappropriate relationship. His father would eventually die in 1917 of syphilis. A child prodigy, he made his first concert tour aged twelve. In 1895, he went to Germany to further his training as a pianist and composer to with study at Hochs Conservatory in Frankfurt. He was a student of Lewis Pabst and James Kwast. He was a trained pianist known especially for his athletic performances of music of Grieg. He was a vegetarian, a runner and a fitness fanatic. He began his concert career in 1901 and was a protege of the Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg. In 1914, Grainger moved to the United States of America where he would live for the rest of his life. In 1918 he became an American citizen and entered the Army. He served in the US Army Band during World War I and would participate in their Army music school and went on to join ASCAP in 1924. In November 1926, Grainger met the Swedish artist and poet Ella Viola Strom, it was love at first sight. In 1928 they married, their wedding was staged into a spectacular event held at the Hollywood Bowl following a concert before an audience of 20,000. He established the Grainger Museum in Melbourne, Australia and donated many of his own musical pieces. Near the end of his life he worked on producing "free music" machines first generation electronic synthesizers with the help of scientist-physicist Burnett Cross. Grainger died in White Plains, New York in 1961 after suffering from abdominal and prostate cancer.