Percy Grainger-The Annunciation Carol

Percy Grainger's relationship with the saxophone was both joyous and far-reaching. He included the saxophone (sometimes singly, other times within a complete family) in many of his orchestral, chamber, band and solo works. Grainger was convinced of the ideal musical qualities of the saxophone from his very first encounter with the instrument. In a 1943 round letter to his friends, he reminisced:

Around 1904, Balfour Gardiner & I heard our first sax-reed (a tenor) near Frome, Somerset. A man in a country band played one to us. And I knew then & there that I was hearing the world's finest wind-tone-tool - the most voice-like, the most mankind-typed.

His enthusiasm was such that he owned both a soprano and baritone, and he enlisted in a World War I armed forces band playing the soprano saxophone! His extensive public writing about the saxophone was effusive in praise, extolling its virtues to the highest degree. A typical example comes from the preface to Lincolnshire Posy, inwhich Grainger asserts: " my ears the saxophone is the most expressive of all wind instruments (the one closest to the human voice. And surely all musical instruments should be rated according to their tonal closeness to man's own voice!..."

Grainger was especially interested in the sonority of families of instruments, and his particular favorite was the family of saxophones. For many years he wanted to write for saxophone ensemble, but was unable to find an appropriate group to try out his works. In the summer of 1943 Grainger had a particularly strong and interested group with which to work, and he enthusiastically wrote out saxophone ensemble parts to many of his own arrangements and original settings.

The Annunciation Carol (English Gothic Music) is Grainger's vigorous setting of the 13th century English tune Angelus ad Virginem. It is one of a series of works for full wind band which can also be played individually and separately by choirs of saxophones, clarinets or brass. Other works in this series include The Immovable Do and Ye Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon.

This version of The Annunciation Carol was written by Grainger on May 19, 1942 in Springfield, Missouri. This is an unedited edition. All of Grainger's markings and indications as originally found on the parts and the score have been retained. Nothing has been added or deleted. It is my hope that the unique flavor and quality of Grainger's writing is maintained, and that players today will imbue the music with the spirit and enjoyment for which Grainger was known.

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