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Percy Grainger

July 25, 2010

Irish Tune from County Derry, another Percy Grainger classic for wind band, is certainly one of the more popular and one of the most beautiful pieces written for band. In band performances, it frequently appears with Shepherd's Hey (which will be featured in tomorrow's blog post) since the two pieces for many years were published together. Like most of Grainger's music, Irish Tune features a traditional folk song, this time in the form of Danny Boy. The setting is a beautiful piece that has been arranged for many different instrumentations. Although it is not the most difficult piece in the wind repertoire (completely accessible for high school students), it is certainly a memorable one.


Percy Grainger, Irish Tune from County Derry

Dallas Wind Symphony, Jerry Junkin, conductor


The information on Irish Tune below is from the Philharmonic Winds.


Irish Tune From County Derry has become one of the standard pieces of wind orchestra. The theme was noted by Miss J Ross from New Town, Limavady County, Ireland, and was published in the Petrie Collection of Ancient Irish Music of Ireland, Dublin (1855).


Grainger's setting for wind band was written in 1918, when he already had made versions for mixed choir, piano and chamber orchestra. Except for the final 16 bars, the tune is written with the accompaniment of no more than six voices at a time, yet creating a rich and full sound by keen instrumentation. In 1920 Grainger produces another setting of the Irish Tune, which is quite different from the first setting, especially harmonically. Of this setting a version for wind orchestra and choir was made.

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