Danish Folk Music Suite

From Wind Repertory Project
Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (arr. Joseph Kreines)

This article is a stub. If you can help add information to it,
please join the WRP and visit the FAQ (left sidebar) for information.

General Info

Year: 1926-41 / 1950 /
Duration: c. 18:50
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Elastic scoring, including orchestra with organ
Publisher: Aeolus Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $200.00; each movement available separately.


1. The Power of Love – 3:37
2. Lord Peter’s Stable-Boy – 2:54
3. The Nightingale and the Two Sisters – 4:14
4. Jutish Medley – 8:05


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

My Danish Folk-Music Suite is based on Danish folksongs collected with the phonograph in Jutland by Evald Tang Kristensen and myself during the years 1922-1927. Evald Tang Kristensen (who was 84 years of age at the time of our final collecting) was the greatest folk-music collector I have ever met -- a genius through and through. My part of the collecting was undertaken partly in order to compare the singing habits of Danish countryside singers (as preserved in minute detail in the phonograph records) with those of English folk-singers similarly recorded with the phonograph by me in the period 1906-1909. This investigation revealed striking similarities in Danish and English folk-singing habits -- similarities that might be compared to those existing between Danish and English speech-dialects.

The first movement of my suite is a setting of a folksong The Power of Love, which tells the story of a girl whose clandestine lover is set upon by her seven brothers [because he has made love to their sister without 'asking their rede'], all of whom he kills. Returning from this encounter, he asks the girl if she still loves him, to which she answers: 'Even had you killed my old father as well, I still would follow you.'

The second movement is a sturdy dance song, Lord Peter's Stable-boy, cast exclusively in seven-bar phrases. The build of tune is a rare survival from the Middle Ages. The ballad tells of Little Kirsten, who dons male attire because she wants to be a courtier at the Dane-King's castle. On her way thither she meets the Dane-King and Lord Peter as they are riding in the green-wood and she asks the Dane-King for employment as a stable-boy. The royal court is much taken aback when, nine years later, this stable-boy gives birth to twins.

The Nightingale and the Two Sisters (tone-wrought 1923-1930) is based on two Danish folk-songs, The Nightingale and The Two Sisters, both sung with winsome singing-grace and heart-searching warmth and keen-ness by that deeply gifted folk-songstress Mrs. Ane Nielsen Post and noted down from her singing (and phonograms of the same) by Evald Tang Kirstensen and Percy Aldridge Grainger in 1922 and 1923.

The nightingale is, in reality, a maiden who has been turned into a nightingale by the spells of a wicked stepmother. When the knight, wanting to break these evil spells, suddenly seizes hold of the nightingale, she is shape-changed into a lion, a bear, 'small snakes' and a 'loathsome dragon'. But the knight does not loosen his grip on her during these shape-changings, and while she is in the dragon shape he cuts her with his penknife so that she bleeds. Hereby the evil spell is broken and she stands before him 'a maiden as fair as a flower'. The verses that follow unfold the story of the elder sister (dark as earth) who pushes her younger sister (fair as sun) into the water and lets her drown, because she wants for herself the young man to whom the younger sister is betrothed.

"The Jutish Medley, as its name implies, is a succession of tunes hailing from Jutland. The first (most spiritedly sung by Mrs. Anna Munch, of Fræer Mark, Skjørping, Jutland), Choosing the Bride, voices a lover's dilemma in choosing between two sweethearts, one rich, one poor. The second melody (also sung by Mrs. Anna Munch) employed is a Dragoon's Farewell before setting out for the wars. The third is a very archaic religious song entitled The Shoemaker from Jerusalem (magnificently sung by Mrs. Evald Tang Kristensen, the wife of the collector). The final ditty, Hubby and Wifey (tellingly and wittily sung by Jens Christian Jensen, of Albæk, Herning, Jutland) is a quarrelling duet in which the wife finally brings her obstreperous husband to his senses by means of a spinning spindle skillfully applied to his head.

- Program Note selected from notes by Percy Aldridge Grainger


State Ratings

Florida: IV (only 3rd mvt.) Florida: VI complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Western Illinois University (Macomb) Wind Ensemble (Brian Drews, conductor) - 30 April 2022
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Michelle Rakers, conductor) – 29 April 2018
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Warren Olfert, conductor) – 1 March 2018
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Warren Olfert, conductor) – 26 February 2010 (CBDNA 2010 North Central Division Conference, Normal, Ill.)

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works