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Danny Deever (arr. Ragsdale)

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Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (trans. Chalon Ragsdale)

This work is the first movement of the composer's Three Tragic Ballads.

General Info

Year: 1924, 1902, 1909 / 2016
Duration: c. 3:20
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Male chorus, orchestra
Publisher: Aux Arcs Music, through C. Alan Publications
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $80.00   |   Score Only (print) - $30.00


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

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba I-II
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Danny Deever started life as a poem from the Barracks Room Ballads of Rudyard Kipling, a major cultural hero of Percy Grainger’s. Grainger scored the piece for small male unison chorus, large male choir, and a large orchestra including saxophones and euphonium.

The song tells the story of Danny Deever, a British soldier in foreign service, hung for a minor offense. Grainger’s setting captures beautifully the contrasting moods of boisterousness, horror and “whistling past the graveyard” so common in a soldier’s experience.

Grainger reported a 1905 visit with Kipling: "He had me down at his place in Sussex to hear the choruses I have written to so many of his verses ... I played him my Danny Deever and We Have Fed Our Sea For A Thousand Years and he said they were like 'deaders rotting in bilge water'. Later he added, 'Till now I've had to rely on black and white, but you do the thing for me in color.’”

Grainger's setting of Danny Deever is Nr. 12 of Grainger’s Kipling Settings, all of which are “lovingly dedicated” to his mother Rose.

- Program Note by transcriber

Performance Notes

This piece can be performed as a standalone work or as a set Three Tragic Ballads, with Three Ravens, The and Father and Daughter.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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