program notes by composition > H > Handel in the Strand

Handel in the Strand

Percy Aldridge Grainger

Handel in the Strand is one of Percy Grainger’s early light orchestral pieces, written in 1911. Grainger had no trouble allowing other musicians to arrange his music to suit their needs, so this piece has existed in several different versions. After its original massed piano and string orchestra setting came versions for full orchestra, piano (solo and 4 hands), organ, trombone choir, and two different settings for band (Goldman and Sousa.)

Grainger gives an amusing anecdote on its origin:

My title was originally “Clog Dance.” But my dear friend William Gair Rathbone (to whom the piece is dedicated) suggested the title “Handel in the Strand,” because the music seemed to reflect both Handel and English musical comedy [the “Strand” — a street in London — is the home of London musical comedy] — as if jovial old Handel were careering down the Strand to the strains of modern English popular music.

Percy Grainger (1882–1961) was a piano prodigy turned composer who was known for his strange personal habits, his colorful prose, and his equally unusual music. His many admirers today still recognize that he possessed “the supreme virtue of never being dull.” Born in Australia, he began studying piano at an early age. He came to the U. S. at the outbreak of World War I and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a bandsman, becoming an American citizen in 1918. He was an early experimenter with music machines and recording, and a lifelong advocate for the saxophone. He is remembered as a composer and collector of original English and other folk melodies. (Notes courtesy of Andy Pease.)

Last updated on March 6, 2020 by Palatine Concert Band