Percy Grainger: "Lincolnshire Posy"
Among wind band enthusiasts, Percy Grainger's Lincolnshire Posy certainly needs no introduction. It is easily one of the most famous and well-known pieces written for bands and has become a cornerstone of the wind repertoire.
There are several unique characteristics of the piece that may be of interest. These should serve to give you a brief overview of the piece before the more specific information below. The piece is in six movements and each movement draws its musical inspiration from a different folksong, or folksongs. Most of these folksongs were collected by Grainger in Lincolnshire, England, some thirty years before the composition of Lincolnshire Posy. Grainger used an Edison wax cylinder recorder to document (sometimes secretly) each singer and each movement is intended to represent the singer rather than a simply set the folk song. In that way, Posy is certainly unique when compared to other folksong-inspired works by other composers and Grainger himself. The piece was commissioned by CBDNA and premiered at the 1937 convention .
The six movements of Lincolnshire Posy are, in order:
II. Horkstow Grange
III. Rufford Park Poachers
IV. The Brisk Young Sailor
V. Lord Melbourne
VI. The Lost Lady Found
Below are the program notes on Lincolnshire Posy written by the composer.
Lincolnshire Posy was commissioned by the American Bandmasters Association and premiered at their convention with the composer conducting. It is in six movements, all based on folk songs from Lincolnshire, England. Grainger's settings are not only true to the verse structure of the folk songs, but attempt to depict the singers from whom Grainger collected the songs. Since its premiere, it has been recognized as a cornerstone of the wind band repertoire.
Lincolnshire Posy, as a whole work, was conceived and scored by me direct for wind band early in 1937. Five, out of the six, movements of which it is made up existed in no other finished form, though most of these movements (as is the case with almost all my compositions and settings, for whatever medium) were indebted, more or less, to unfinished sketches for a variety of mediums covering many years (in this case, the sketches date from 1905 to 1937). These indebtednesses are stated in the score.
This bunch of "musical wildflowers" (hence the title) is based on folksongs collected in Lincolnshire, England (one notated by Miss Lucy E. Broadwood; the other five noted by me, mainly in the years 1905-1906, and with the help of the phonograph), and the work is dedicated to the old folksingers who sang so sweetly to me. Indeed, each number is intended to be a kind of musical portrait of the singer who sang its underlying melody - a musical portrait of the singer's personality no less than of his habits of song - his regular or irregular wonts of rhythm, his preference for gaunt or ornately arabesqued delivery, his contrasts of legato and staccato, his tendency towards breadth or delicacy of tone.
Below is an extensive article on the source material for "Lincolnshire Posy."
"A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger" by Thomas Lewis