Where are Grainger's Manuscripts Located?
Percy Grainger left behind a vast body of work when he died February 20, 1961. He had been in worsening health and apparently preferred to spend his time working on his free music machines rather than detailing a smooth transition of the items in his estate. His final will, dated September 29, 1959, the latest of his many Wills, named his wife Ella Grainger (general) executor, with Elsie Fairfax, first alternative executor; Burnett Cross, second alternative executor; and then the Chase Manhattan Bank, third alternative executor. In previous Wills (notably November 10, 1928, shortly after the Grainger's 1928 wedding) Grainger directed that a Percy Grainger Memorial Association be formed to manage his scores, manuscripts, and papers.
On April 9, 1962, Ella was mulling over how to administer the vast collection of Grainger’s compositions and manuscripts at 7 Cromwell Place. She wrote to the Eastman School of Music’s Sibley Music Library, "Professor Gustave Reese has asked me to write you about sending some of Percy Grainger's MSS to your library. Professor Reese and I have selected several items to go to the Sibley Library, and I would be much obliged to you if you would inform me whether you wish to receive such MSS."
The Sibley Music Library accepted. Soon, a carton was sent, containing a selection of Percy Grainger's works in manuscript. Other works were distributed to five major collections: the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Ireland, and the British Library. Each of the six libraries was sent copies of the lists of compositions deposited in the others so that the information could be shared by all. In addition to the materials thus distributed, other collections of music, books, letters, and relics were housed at Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey, and at the Grainger Museum of the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Activities like the interaction with the Sibley Library were common and it was decided that an educational organization should be formed to continue these types (and other) projects. The Percy Grainger Library Society was organized informally around October, 1962 by those who knew and remembered Percy Grainger. A fuller history of the society is available in The Society section of this web site.