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Country Gardens

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Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (arr. John Philip Sousa, ed. Keith Brion and Loras John Schissel)

Subtitle: English Morris Dance Tune

General Info

Year: 1923 / 1999
Duration: c. 2:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano
Publisher: C.L. Barnhouse
Cost: Score and Parts - $65.00   |   Score Only - $6.00


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

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Two musical legends, Percy Grainger and John Philip Sousa, joined forces to create this delightful arrangement of Country Gardens. As with all Brion/Schissel editions, this has been carefully edited to assure performances are in keeping with Sousa's original intentions. An added bonus is the fascinating correspondence between Sousa and Grainger regarding the Sousa arrangement included in the score.

- Program Note from publisher

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.”

John Philip Sousa admired Grainger’s compositions and programmed them regularly. Sousa knew a good tune when he heard it, and decided to arrange and feature Country Gardens in concerts with his own band.

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


State Ratings

  • Texas: III. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Catskill Valley (Oneonta, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Andy Pease, conductor) - 22 January 2023
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Symphony Band (Shayna Stahl, conductor) - 17 October 2022
  • Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester, Va.) Concert Band (Keith Taylor, conductor) - 14 November 2021
  • Texas State University (San Marcos) Symphonic Winds (Chase Failing, conductor) - 17 November 2020
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Maroon Campus Band (Lance Sample, conductor) – 28 October 2019
  • The Merit School of Music (Chicago, Ill.) Wind Symphony (Chip Staley, conductor) – 1 May 2019
  • Virginia Grand Military Band (Alexandria) (Loras John Schissel, conductor) – 26 January 2019
  • Wisconsin Lutheran College (Milwaukee) Concert Band (Terry S. Treuden, conductor) – 5 October 2018
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Symphonic Winds (Anthony Marinello, III, conductor) – 5 October 2018
  • Emporia (Ks.) Municipal Band (James Davis, conductor) - 7 June 2018
  • Southeast Iowa Band (Mount Pleasant) (Dakota Howard, conductor) – 4 March 2018
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic Band (Jennifer K. Bollero, conductor) – 1 March 2018
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Concert Band (Archie G. Birkner IV, conductor) – 26 February 2018
  • University of Texas (Austin) Longhorn Concert Band (Joshua Gall, conductor) – 25 February 2018
  • Vassar College and Community Wind Ensemble (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) (James Osborn, conductor) – 25 February 2018
  • United States Air Force Band (Washington, D.C.) (Larry H. Lang, conductor) – 22 February 2018
  • West Chester University (Penn.) Wind Symphony (Jack J. Hontz, conductor, conductor) – 15 February 2018
  • Otsego Senior All County Band (Laurens, N.Y.) (Andrew Pease, conductor) - 3 February 2018
  • Cedar Park (Tex.) Winds Community Band (Christopher Yee, conductor) - 20 December 2017 (2017 Midwest Clinic)
  • State University of New York, Fredonia, Wind Symphony (Donna Dolson, conductor) – 27 September 2017
  • High School Concert Band [Interlochen, Mich.] (Frederick Fennell, conductor) - 31 July 1987

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Grainger, P; Sousa, J.; Brion, K.; Schissel, L. (1999). Country Gardens: English Morris dance tune [score]. Willow Blossom Music: [United States].