Lincolnshire Posy
by Percy Grainger


Percy Grainger (1882 -1961) was a picturesque nationalist who tried to retain something of the original flavor of British folk songs and their singers by strict observance of peculiarities of performance, such as varying beat lengths and the use of “primitive” techniques such as parallelism. Born the son of an architect in Brighton, Victoria, Australia, Percy Grainger was a precocious pianist, and the proceeds of a series of concerts, given at the age of twelve, enabled him to go and study at Frankfurt for six years, after which he began his European career as a concert pianist, settling in London in 1901. He came to the U. S. in 1915 and enlisted as an army bandsman at the outbreak of World War I. He became a United States citizen in 1919. It was during his stay in England that he became passionately involved in collecting and arranging folk songs and country dances.

Publisher: Ludwig Music

Year of publication: 1939 revised 1987

Grade: 6

Type of composition: folk songs…program music

Style: 6 movements consisting of contrasting styles

Programming suggestions: Conceived and scored for wind band early in 1937, this bunch of “musical wildflowers” (hence the title Lincolnshire Posy) is based on folk songs collected in Lincolnshire, England. Each of the movements is intended to be a kind of musical portrait of the singer who sang its underlying melody. The composition begins with Lisbon Bay, a sailor’s song in a brisk meter with plenty of “lilt.” Horkstow Grange, the second movement, is named for a pleasantly situated eighteenth-century farm house that stands beside the B-204 road to South Ferriby. Subtitled The Miser and his Man – a local Tragedy, the tune is a requiem for an oppressive overseer and his “man”, who couldn’t take the abuse any longer and used a club on the miser. Next, The Brisk Young Sailor is a simple tune that tells of one “who returned to wed his True Love.” Lord Melbourne is a war song with the lyrics “I am a noble Englishman, Lord Melbourne is my name. I never lost any battle, but won great victory.” The set is completed with The Lost Lady Found, a “Dance Song” that tells the story of a woman stolen by gypsies. Her uncle is suspected of doing away with her in order to acquire her estate. Her sweetheart, searching everywhere, eventually finds her in Dublin. Returning home, the pair arrives in time to prevent the uncle’s hanging for the alleged crime. The town rejoices.

Solo instruments: trumpet, piccolo, flugelhorn, alto clarinet, soprano sax or alto, Bb baritone, oboe, alto sax.

Anecdotal notes: The first movement, Dublin Bay (later changed by Grainger to Lisbon), is a sailor’s song in a brisk 6/8 meter with “plenty of lilt.” The song is presented three times with changing accompaniment. The second song, Horkstow Grange, presents another simple melody, reharmonized in each of its recurrences. True to the rendition of the folk singer, the accents shift constantly throughout as the number of quarter notes in the measure changes from four to five to three to six and back again. The third song, Rufford Park Poachers, is the longest and most complex of the settings. The opening duo (piccolo and clarinet) presents an assymetrical melody which is followed exactly two eighth-notes later by another duo of Eb clarinet and bass clarinet. The blurring of the line, the four-octave spread of the canons, and the subsequent ominous brass figures which fade in and out of the background textures represent glimpses of the dangerous poachers in their boats weaving in and out of the pre-dawn mist. The fourth song, The Brisk Young Sailor, is a simple jaunty chanty, during which one can well imagine the confident young lad striding up the road to meet his sweetheart. The fifth song, Lord Melbourne, begins in free time, “heavy and fierce.” The conductor is instructed to vary the length of the beats as folk singers do. The final song, The Lost Lady Found, completes the set with a conventional setting in straight 3/4 time and with usual patterns of accompaniment. Non-traditional use of musical terms, louden=crescendo. Odd meters and no meters at all in certain movements. Program notes suggest try to imitate folk singing. Meters such as 2 ½ / 4 may prove difficult. Some rhythms are noted in an odd manner. Soprano sax and alto clarinet have solo parts which may have to rewritten in not available. Numerous dynamic changes will prove a challenge for younger ensembles. Will require many hours to polish many areas.

Discography: Lincolnshire Posy. Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, Frederick Fennell conductor. KOCD-2818… Eastman Wind Ensemble Live in Osaka Donald Hunsberger, conductor. ASIN: B0000027IY

Recording of "Lisbon Bay"

Recording of "The Brisk Young Sailor"

Recording of "The Lost Lady Found"

Recording of "Rufford Park Poachers"

Recording of "Lord Melbourne"

Recording of "Horkstow Granage"