Percy Aldridge Grainger
Though Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882-1961) is primarily remembered for what are referred to as his "fripperies" -- light, sentimental compositions that include the piano piece "Country Gardens" -- this American composer of Australian birth was one of the most eccentric composers and arrangers of his era. He spent much of his early career in England, where he became a major figure in the so-called folk-song movement, which sought to catalog and arrange the dying tradition of English folk songs. In 1926 Grainger met Swedish artist and poet Ella Viola Strom, whom he married two years later in an elaborate ceremony on the stage of the Hollywood Bowl before an audience of 20,000. His music was every bit as unconventional as his lifestyle, and his visionary experiments include a variety of compositional techniques and highly unusual instrumentation. Though his output declined late in life, his collaboration with Burnett Cross yielded the "Free Music Machine," a forerunner of the electric synthesizer.