Although many of the works by Australian composer and concert pianist, Percy Grainger, were experimental and unusual, the piece with which he is most generally associated is his piano arrangement of the English folk-dance tune Country Gardens.
Following an unpopular move from England at the outbreak of WWI to America, in 1917 he enlisted as a bandsman in the US Army. During his army service he made frequent appearances as a pianist at charity concerts to help raise funds for the war cause, regularly improvising on the Handkerchief dance tune, Country Gardens (a Morris Dancing tune he’d obtained from folk music specialist, Cecil Sharp, some 10 years earlier), as an encore. Subsequent sales of sheet music of the piece quickly broke many publishing records. Whilst the piece was a huge commercial success, Grainger came to detest it and complained of his audiences that, “If I don’t play it, they won’t leave”.
The piece has been performed by everyone from Stokowski to the Muppets. Here, Country Gardens is presented in an arrangement for wind quintet in a version that draws from both Grainger’s piano versions and some of the more palatable parts of his slightly odd 1950 orchestration.
For copyright reasons this title is only available as printed sheet music