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MMD > Archives > February 2000 > 2000.02.26 > 01Prev  Next


Percy Grainger Museum in Melbourne, Australia
By Dan Wilson, London

Harvey Roehl wrote in 000225 MMDigest about visiting the Percy Grainger
Museum in 1977.  This woke me up with a jerk, because the only time
I visited the Grainger Museum was in 1978 on _my_ first visit to
Australia.  The Museum is not open to the general public and (then,
at least) you had to phone for a private viewing.

There is all sorts of stuff germane to the player piano there, notably
Percy's experiments in "free music" with rolls razor-bladed apart and
gummed up with Sellotape to produce continuous glissandi, and a machine
with wavy bands of cardboard to operate arms controlling oscillator
frequencies.  

More famous are the dummies of himself and his friends Balfour Gardiner
and Cyril Scott, wearing actual cast-off clothing of theirs.  After the
war it was found mice had moved in and reduced much of this to rags,
but Percy, thoughtful of posterity's needs, had prevailed on them for
two sets!  His suit is the patchwork towelling one he used to run
between engagements in.

Denis Condon has, I believe, rebuilt the Weber since, and made a good
job of it.

The Museum is hosted by Melbourne University and the setup was of
interest to me later because of the need to establish, at some time or
another, the fair collection of player material and instruments in the
hands of the supporters of the Pianola Institute in London, one of
whose ambitions is to establish a permanent home and collection.
Would it be safe to involve a university in the same way ?

Quite apart from Percy Grainger's stature as a musician having grown
since his lifetime, he was Australia's first composer of international
renown and therefore unlikely to have his Museum be given the heave-ho
should the political or financial situation at the university turn
against music.  About six years ago I thought it might be useful to
get a look at their tenure agreement, more to take advantage of their
experience than question it, but the then curator was reluctant to be
drawn into discussion about it.  I rather gathered that there was
nothing down on paper and he thought that the less said, the better.

Dan Wilson, London


(Message sent Sat 26 Feb 2000, 21:39:00 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Australia, Grainger, Melbourne, Museum, Percy

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