Percy Grainger-Molly on the Shore


Percy Grainger's brilliant arrangements of the British folk tune Molly on the Shore were written between 1907 and 1950 and exist for a variety of instrumental groups, including orchestra, band, violin and piano, string quartet and solo piano. This version for alto saxophone and piano developed through the acquaintance of the American saxophonist Cecil Leeson with Grainger during the late 1930s while both were staff members at the Interlochen summer music camp in Michigan. Although Grainger was an outspoken and ardent admirer of the saxophone and had written extensively for it in his works for orchestra, band, saxophone choir and chamber ensembles, he had yet to write a solo work.

After collaborating on several recitals at Interlochen, Leeson attempted to interest Grainger in composing a work for saxophone and piano for his concert tours. Grainger initially declined. When Leeson requested a concerto for the saxophone, Grainger replied, "I am sorry, but as an Australian and a socialist I am against putting any one instrument ahead of another." After persistent efforts, Grainger agreed to an alto saxophone and piano setting of Molly on the Shore. He completed the piano score and the beginning of the saxophone part. Leeson received a copy of Molly in the mail with the understanding that they would collaborate on the remaining measures. The completed Molly was finished in 1938. Leeson performed the work numerous times, including at least two performances with Grainger at the piano. I discovered the original manuscripts in both the Grainger and Leeson archives, and I reconciled the versions to the performance set Leeson used in his concerts.

This edition has been restored to the original key of Ab, and all of Grainger's colorful editorial suggestions appear exactly as found in the manuscript. Grainger uses his "blue-eyed English," in which words derived from Latin and Greek (especially those found in music) were purged from his vocabulary. This was Grainger's attempt at purifying the English language from seemingly culturally corrupt influences. Thus, "solo" becomes "to the fore," "louden bit by bit" replaces "crescendo," and "feelingly" replaces "espressivo."

Grainger's original articulations and dynamics have carefully been retained. In performance they add a dimension and variety that reveal Grainger's very special vision of Molly on the Shore. Combined with his spirited tempo marking, this is a Molly of great energy, charm and sophistication; a perfect marriage of his favorite instrument and music. To the Fore Publishers is pleased to offer Molly on the Shore as part of its series of original Grainger works for saxophone, including Lisbon (SAATB) and the Annunciation Carol (SAATTBBs).

Paul Cohen

To Order offline:
Please include $4.00 postage and handling for each order.
Make checks payable to Paul Cohen and mail to:

Paul Cohen
To The Fore Publishers
420 Lantana Ave
Englewood, NJ, 07631