From Interlochen's archives: A Percy Grainger world premiere
Hear an archival recording of the 1942 world premiere of Percy Grainger's transcription of Cesar Franck's Choral no. 2, performed at Interlochen's National Music Camp.
Between 1930 and 1944, the composer, conductor and pianist Percy Grainger served on the faculty at Interlochen's National Music Camp.
During his five summers at Interlochen. he conducted the young musicians in several of his own compositions.
This included multiple world premiere performances of his new compositions.
On July 12, 1942, Grainger led the musicians of the National High School Band in the world premiere performance of a piece called Choral no. 2, which was a transcription of an organ work by Cesar Franck.
Belgian composer Cesar Franck had written three chorals for organ in 1890.
Franck died soon after completing those pieces, and it is rumored that he was putting the final touches on the piece when a priest arrived to administer last rites.
Half a century later, Grainger created a transcription for band of the second choral in Franck's collection.
That Choral no. 2 is the piece that National Music Camp students premiered in 1942. The concert featuring that world premiere was originally broadcast on WTCM.
Clarence Sawhill usually conducted the National High School Band, but he gave the baton to Grainger for this performance so that the composer could conduct his own world premiere.
Grainger's transcription of the Choral no. 2 has become a part of current wind band repertory. It has been recorded commercially by a number of wind ensembles, including the University of Houston Wind Ensemble, the Royal Norwegian Navy Band and the Michigan State University Symphonic Band.
The transcription disks were recently digitized for preservation thanks to the generous support of the Hamer D. and Phyllis C. Shafer Foundation.
Stefan Wiebe remastered the digitized archival recordings featured in this post.