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From Interlochen's archives: Percy Grainger 1942 piano recital

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Interlochen Center for the Arts
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Percy Grainger (left) works with a piano student at Interlochen in the summer of 1942

Eighty years ago this summer, one of the most famous living composers gave a solo piano recital at Interlochen's National Music Camp.

By 1942, Percy Aldridge Grainger was internationally renowned as a concert pianist, composer and folk song collector.

He had close personal and professional relationships with older composers including Edvard Grieg. In fact, Grieg considered Grainger one of the foremost performers and interpreters of his compositions.

Grainger served on the faculty at Interlochen's National Music Camp five different summers between 1930 and 1944.

He taught piano and music composition, and he also conducted ensembles.

Interlochen Arts Academy and Camp faculty members are encouraged to present their work in recitals, and Grainger was no exception eighty years ago.

On July 9, 1942, he gave a solo piano recital in the Interlochen Bowl.

The printed recital program, reproduced below, lists only music by Johann Sebastian Bach and Robert Schumann.

Percy Grainger 1942 piano recital program from Interlochen
A copy of the program from Percy Grainger's July 9, 1942 piano recital in the Interlochen Bowl

The program lists Schumann's "Symphonic Studies," although the piece is better known today as the "Symphonic Etudes."

Percy Grainger performs Robert Schumann's Symphonic Etudes (excerpt)
Presented in the Interlochen Bowl and broadcast on NBC on July 9, 1942

During the recital, however, Grainger performed several more pieces that he announced from the stage.

These included his own arrangement of "Danny Boy" (also known as the Londonderry Air as well as a collection of folk songs by his friend and mentor Edvard Grieg.

Percy Grainger performs his own arrangement of "Danny Boy"
Presented in the Interlochen Bowl and broadcast on NBC on July 9, 1942

This recital was broadcast on NBC and recorded on a 12-inch transcription disk.

The NBC radio announcer introduces the broadcast of Percy Grainger's faculty piano recital
Presented in the Interlochen Bowl and broadcast on NBC on July 9, 1942

The transcription disks were recently digitized for preservation thanks to the generous support of the Hamer D. and Phyllis C. Shafer Foundation.

Interlochen Public Radio's audio fellow Stefan Wiebe remastered the digitized archival recordings.