In Dahomey

From Wind Repertory Project
Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (arr. David J. Miller)

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Subtitle: Cakewalk Smasher

General Info

Year: 1909 /
Duration: c. 4:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano
Publisher: Manuscript


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Percy Grainger wrote a virtuosic concert rag entitled In Dahomey (Cakewalk Smasher) in which he blended tunes from Cook's show and Arthur Pryor's popular cakewalk number, A Coon Band Contest. In this tribute to contemporary African-American music, the clash of the two tunes creates what has been called "a page of almost Ivesian dissonance". Grainger may have seen Will Marion Cook's In Dahomey on stage in London in 1903. He started composing his rag that year, completing the score some six years later, in 1909.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Percy Grainger is one of the most recognizable figures in the world of wind ensemble music. His many ubiquitous standards in the repertoire include Irish Tune from County Derry, Shepherd’s Hey, Molly on the Shore and the undisputed masterpiece Lincolnshire Posy. Needless to say, a new addition to the wind band catalogue by Grainger would be cause for celebration, and the Navy Band was pleased and proud to welcome this fresh arrangement into the fold.

Transcribed from a virtuosic showcase for solo piano, David Miller scored for the band in the fashion of Grainger himself by studying the orchestration techniques of the composer. The result is bright, colorful, somewhat odd and unquestionably Grainger-esque. The title comes from a stage comedy, In Dahomey, by two distinguished African-American artists of the early 20th century, poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar and composer Will Marion Cook. This show and several well-known artists of the day, such as Arthur Pryor, cemented the popularity of the cakewalk dance in Europe, and the style was co-opted by many famous composers of the day, most notably Claude Debussy (Golliwog’s Cakewalk). The contemporary British composer John Pickard has opined that Grainger’s piece “...would have surely established instant popularity were it not so horrendously difficult to play!”

- Program Note by Andrew Skaggs for the U.S. Navy Band concert program, 17 December 2014

Commercial Discography

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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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