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Country Gardens (1990)

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Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger

General Info

Year: 1918 / 1990
Duration: c. 1:50
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano
Publisher: G Schirmer
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $65.00   |   Score Only (print) - $7.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Marimba
  • Orchestra Bells
  • Snare Drum
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Country Gardens is an English folk tune that Cecil Sharp collected in 1908 and passed on to Grainger, who played improvisations on it during his World War I tour as a concert pianist for the U.S. Army. According to Grainger, it is a dance version of the tune The Vicar of Bray. Once published in its original piano form, the tune brought Grainger great success. However, it was not among his favorite compositions. Later in life, despite the steady stream of income from its royalties, the fame of Country Gardens and the widespread public association of this work as being his best known piece, the work came to haunt Grainger. Mentally, it became his albatross. He came to think of his own brilliant original music as “my wretched tone art.” He once remarked, “The typical English country garden is not often used to grow flowers in; it is more likely to be a vegetable plot. So you can think of turnips as I play it.”

When asked in 1950 by Leopold Stokowski to make a new arrangement for Stokowski’s orchestra, Grainger obliged with a wildly satirical version that literally sticks out its tongue at the success of the little tune. In 1953, he rescored that arrangement for band. Reflecting his mood at the time, it is a bitingly sophisticated parody that was to become his only band setting of the music.

- Program Note from SUNY Fredonia Wind Symphony concert program, 27 September 2017

The charismatic, quirky, brilliant character of Percy Grainger is not likely to be recreated. A genius by any measure, Grainger was a piano virtuoso, a major force in the collection and preservation of folk songs, and a visionary composer of considerable gifts.

In 1918, Grainger wrote to Cecil Sharp about a new folk song setting he had prepared. During one of his Liberty Loan concerts, Percy had improvised on one of Sharp’s Morris dance tunes called Country Gardens - a Handkerchief Dance. Percy’s version of Country Gardens proved so popular that he decided to commit it to paper, and presented it as a birthday gift to his mother in 1918. As with his other folk song settings, it was “lovingly and reverently dedicated to the memory of Edvard Grieg.”

- Program Note from the Cedar Park Winds Community Band concert program, 20 December 2017

Grainger's first piano arrangement of this English Morris dance tune was completed in 1918 as a birthday gift for his mother. It became extremely popular and was his greatest commercial and financial success. Even this simple tune displays his genius with harmony, counterpoint, and color. This very playable arrangement is an excellent way to introduce your students to the music of Percy Grainger.

- Program Note from publisher


State Ratings

  • California: SCSBOA Band Music List Grade IV
  • Iowa: IV
  • Kansas: IV
  • Louisiana: IV
  • Maryland: V
  • Mississippi: V I-A
  • Oklahoma: IV-A
  • Tennessee: IV


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Country Gardens, Wikipedia Accessed 24 October 2018
  • Girsberger, Russ. Percussion Assignments for Band & Wind Ensemble: Volume 2 L-Z. Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications, 2004, 122. Print.
  • Grainger, P. (1990). Country Gardens [score]. G. Schirmer: [New York].