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Percy Grainger - I'm seventeen come Sunday

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Published on Feb 6, 2010

Percy Grainger In Memoriam (1882 - 1961):
I'M SEVENTEEN COME SUNDAY

Percy Grainger was an Australian-born composer and pianist. He eagerly collected folk music tunes, forms, and instruments from around the world, from Ireland and Scandinavia to Bali, and incorporated them into his own works. This brilliant piece is no. 8 of his "British folk-music settings". It was dedicated to the memory of the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.

Grainger had met Grieg in London, and they became friends. In the summer of 1907 Grainger visited Grieg at his villa in Norway. The two men spent many hours discussing and rehearsing music, particularly Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor, Opus 16. Grieg quickly became a strong father figure to the younger man. He admired Percy greatly and asked if he would perform the concerto on a European tour with Grieg conducting. A few weeks before the tour was to start, however, Grieg became seriously ill and died. As a result of this brief friendship which had been so rewarding, Grainger became the leading interpreter of the A minor Concerto and performed it more frequently than any other concert pianist throughout his career.

As I rose up one May morning, one May morning so wurly,
I overtook a pretty fair maid just as the sun was dawnin',
With me rue rum ray, fother didle ay,
Wok fol air didle ido.

Her stockin's white, and her boots were bright, and her buckling shone like silver;
She had a dark and a rolling eye, and her hair hung round her shoulder,
With me...

Where are you going, my pretty fair maid? Where are you going, my honey?
She answer'd me right cheerfully, "I'm an errand for me mummy",
With me...

How old are you, my pretty fair maid? How old are you, my honey?
She answer'd me right cheerfully, "I am seventeen come Sunday",
With me...

Will you take a man, my pretty fair maid? Will you take a man, my honey?
She answer'd me right cheerfully, "I darst not for me mummy",
With me...

"Will you come down to my mummy's house, when the moon shone bright and clearly?
You'll come down, I'll let you in, and me mummy shall not hear me",
With me...

"Oh, it's now I'm with my soldier lad, his ways they are so winnin',
it's drum and fife is my delight, and a pint o' rum in the mornin',
With me rue rum ray, fother didle ay,
Wok fol air didle ido".

Grainger was a composer who felt that his most important compositions were neglected and grew to hate his own most popular pieces, a pianist of rare brilliance who hated playing the piano, a racist who had many friends of many races, a vegetarian who was not particularly fond of vegetables, a man who was completely dominated by his mother until the age of forty, a man who wanted to have his skeleton displayed in a casement for public display, a human being that left documents on his sado-masochistic sexual preferences to be scientifically studied. In short, a fascinating personality...

The Monteverdi Choir
Directed by John Eliot Gardiner

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