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Percy Grainger

Related: classical music - sadomasochism

July 25, 1882 Percy Grainger is born in Melbourne, Australia. The famous Australian pianist, composer, conductor und self-confident sadomasochist extensively documented his flagellant obsession with photographs. See also http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0148583/


Percy Aldridge Grainger (July 8, 1882 February 20, 1961) was an Australian-born pianist, composer, and champion of the saxophone and the Concert band. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Grainger [Jul 2006]

Percy Grainger (1999) - John Bird.

Prefatory note by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears.
Appreciation by Leopold Stokowski.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999. 379 pp.
ISBN 0198166524

On the dust-jacket cover of this excellent book, the composer Percy Aldridge Grainger looks out like a child with a naughty secret he hopes you share, so intently that the air between you and the portrait seems to vibrate. Few composers lead outward lives especially interesting. Most don't go exploring in remote corners of the world, break up spy rings, or achieve worldly power. Whatever interest we have in them usually centers on their inner lives. Although Grainger's "inner weather" seemed to mix a boy's playroom with the Hellfire Club, his outward eccentricities and his adventures as concert pianist and brilliant inventor mark him as one of the few exceptions to the general rule.

[...] He possessed unbelievable stores of energy and needed little sleep. On tour of Australia and Africa, he insisted on running to the next tour stop while the rest of the company took the train. He would throw a ball over the roof of a house, run through the house to the back, and catch the ball on the other side. He descended stairs landings at a time. Bird includes all the stories I know and many more besides. Grainger practiced flagellation (both whipper and whippee), made nude photographs of himself after various sessions, and left an explanatory document with his lawyer in case his wife or he himself were found dead in strange circumstances. He was also a fellow in remarkably close touch with his id. He confessed his darkest fantasies to acquaintances: for example, he wanted to have sex with his own children. Now Grainger never had children and never really wanted them. The fantasy was just that, and fortunately Grainger made the distinction. Peel the lid off just about anybody, and you'll find Mr. Hyde. Grainger differs from the rest of us in that Hyde lived remarkably close to the surface and yet seemed content to remain beneath the surface, if not entirely hidden. Bird discusses Grainger's psychology fairly extensively. In fact, it's probably at least one of the reasons for the brief "Prefatory Note" by Britten and Pears, themselves quondam keepers of secrets.

[G]rainger also pioneered electronic music, which he wanted to lead to what he called "free" music. In part, this stemmed from his almost life-long desire to turn the rolling-hill landscape of Australia into sound. Ideally, he wanted a composer to compose as fluently as a painter sketched (he was also a superb sketcher and draftsman), to create music practically without intermediary. Most present-day electronic instruments owe something to Grainger's basic work. He solved a large number of the technical problems, although a cheap Casio keyboard and a sequencing program would blow away his results. Still, pros and weekend toilers in the MIDI vineyards amount to at least his spiritual nieces and nephews.

Copyright © 1999 by Steve Schwartz

Passion (1999) - Peter Duncan

The Review Board considered the themes and scenes cited by the Classification Board as warranting an R classification. These included at 33 mins, Grainger pushing a needle and thread through his nipple; at 61 mins, Grainger and Karen are shown with hands tied together and alternately whipped by each other as a prelude to intercourse, and showing welts on skin; at 76 mins, Karen and Grainger are again shown alternately whipping each other, and photographs taken; at 82 mins Grainger's mother finds these photographs.

The Review Board found that the film had a pervasive theme of sado-masochistic behaviour, which was initially conveyed by the sound of Grainger whipping himself and overheard by his mother (8 mins), by the threading of the needle through his nipple (33 mins), by a scene of Grainger whipping himself (57mins); and later by dialogue at 74 mins "fierce cruel beatings ...excited me terribly ... made me shiver .. savage beating which draws blood heightens our senses and reminds us what we are .."

This behaviour encompasses the young woman, Karen, who is enlisted by Grainger's mother with the plea that "passion can destroy genius if not contained ...Percy has passions that cause his mother great distress...help me restrain him .."(57 mins)

The fetishistic behaviour is then strongly depicted in the two scenes at 61 mins and 76 mins. The scenes convey a consenting but relished and genuine infliction of pain. The injuries (whip welts) sustained in these encounters are seen, and are shown again later (eg 64 mins, Karen looks at herself in the mirror; at 80 mins, Karen has ongoing scars on her back; at 81mins, Grainger \develops the photos; at 83 mins, in several shots, Grainger's horrified mother \looks at the photos.

The Review Board found that the treatment of the theme of adult fetishistic (sadomasochistic) behaviour was of high intensity and further was not discreet.

The film therefore did not meet the criteria for MA 15+. --The R-rating of Passion, OFLC response to complaint http://danny.oz.au/freedom/oflc/films/Passion.html [Jul 2004]

Percy Grainger (1999) - John Bird

Percy Grainger (1999) - John Bird [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

This extensively revised edition of John Bird's acclaimed biography of Percy Grainger gives the first circumstantial account of the life and works of one of the strangest figures in twentieth-century music. Behind Grainger's highly original compositional achievements, folksong collecting, and glittering career as a virtuoso concert pianist lay a tragic and chaotic personal life, long domination by his mother, unorthodox sexual predilections, an eccentric athleticism, a demonic spiritual drive, and a wildly inconsistent personal philosophy with Anglo-Saxon obsessions such as his famous "Blue-Eyed English". A list of published compositions, a current discography of performances by Grainger, and a selection of his seminal writings complete what has already proved to be a standard work. --Book Description via Amazon.com

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