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One Gift the Grainger Museum Refused

August 24, 2010

Although Percy Grainger lived most of his life in the U.S., he established his own museum in Melbourne, Australia.

After Grainger had passed away, one day his widow came into the Grainger Museum. She was grimy, coated with dirt as if she’d been outdoors for a week, and hauled a gunny sack along side of her. She walked up to the Museum Director’s office and hoisted the sack up onto his desk with a big clatter, throwing off clouds of dust.

“What’s this?” the director asked her.

“It’s Percy’s bones,” she replied. “He wanted them to be made into a wind chime and hung outside the Museum.”

The director, squirming uncomfortably, asked Mrs. Grainger, “How did you get his bones?”

“I took him out to the desert,” she said, “and let him be picked clean and let his bones bleach in the sun.”

The Museum Director politely refused to accept Grainger’s remains, explained that making such a wind chime would be against the law, and that she needed to give him a proper burial.  The Director later discovered that Grainger had stipulated in his will that his bones be made into wind chimes for the Museum, and Percy’s widow was complying with her late husband’s wishes.

–as told to me by Australian composer/pianist/conductor Keith Humble

From → Anecdotes, Music

  1. No, it’s true. Keith Humble really did tell me that story.

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