Biography CD Catalogue

Grainger Companion





"a formidable pianist, always imbuing her playing with a colourful palette of mood and tone"
Music Web International

Biography CD Catalogue

Grainger Companion





Penelope ‘s 40th anniversary concert on 8 October 2014 was attended by a large and enthusiastic audience. The programme of Bach, Grieg, Dvorak and Grainger featured the premiere of a hitherto unknown Grainger concerto movement - hugely enjoyed by the both the brilliant young supporting orchestral ensemble, led by the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, and an audience which included notable figures from the worlds of music and broadcasting.

“The Piano Concerto movement in C minor (1896) is the product of the thirteen-year-old Grainger while still in his first year of study at Frankfurt Konservatorium…Orchestrated by Benjamin Woodgates in early-Romantic style, it emerged, with a youthful vigour and tunefulness, as a remarkably accomplished work and a substantial show piece for the solo pianist…well worth hearing."                                                        British Music Society News December 2014   

Penelope gives the Australian premiere on 21 May 2015 in Grainger’s hometown, Melbourne, with the outstanding students of the Australian National Academy of Music. Details follow of her forthcoming Australian tour and other concerts in in which she is involved as pianist and/or composer.
Friday 10 Apr 10pm-11.15pm  ABC Classic FM
Penelope Thwaites in Recital - works by Bach/Liszt, Grieg, Debussy, Grainger.
Sunday 17-Fri 22 May  2015 Grainger project with students of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) Melbourne Australia.
Monday 18 May Melbourne Recital Centre 
Illustrated Lecture ‘Discovering Percy Grainger’  
Grainger(1882-1961) and his completely original musical world, including recorded extracts of choral, orchestral, wind band, solo song and piano by world- renowned performers and by Grainger himself.
Thursday 21 May  6pm Melbourne Recital Centre Salon
Concert with the ANAM students The Grainger You’ve Never Heard
An hour-long extravaganza with brass, string and percussion groups plus piano works for 6-12 hands. Includes Australian premiere of Grainger’s youthful Piano Concerto 1896.
Post concert book- signing of The New Percy Grainger Companion.
Friday 22 May 3pm
Public Conversation with Paul Dean (Head of ANAM)  South Melbourne Town Hall.
Friday 29 May at 7.30pm 
Michael Thwaites (1915-2005) A Centenary Celebration 
A programme of poetry and music 
Church of St John the Baptist, Canberra, ACT
Concludes with premiere of a new Missa Brevis by Penelope Thwaites.
Commissioned by the Friends of St John's.
GERMANY - two performances of the Thwaites/Thornhill Wesley musical Ride!Ride!  
(German Translation by Christoph Klaiber)
Saturday 2 May   Berlin  (World Methodist Conference)
Thursday  14 May    Reutlingen, South Germany
Thursday 22 October  at 6.00pm     Rhodes House, Oxford
Sunday 25 October at 11.30am       Kings Place Concert Halls, London NW1       Box office and information.
A POET AT WAR - Penelope Thwaites celebrates her poet father, Michael Thwaites', centenary with poetry and music, in company with renowned actor, Timothy West and the distinguished baritone, Stephen Varcoe.  Michael Thwaites was the first Australian to win the King's Gold Medal for Poetry.  Music to include works by Schumann, Chopin, Debussy, Bach, Handel and Scriabin.
Penelope Thwaites, piano,  with Timothy West and Stephen Varcoe, baritone.   
Box office and information.
Saturday 6 May 2016 at 7.00pm    Schott Music, 48 Great Marlborough Street, London W1
Songs, instrumental and choral works.   More details to follow.


Born and resident in UK, Penelope grew up in Australia, winning first place on graduation in Music from Melbourne University.
Her London debut in 1974 at the Wigmore Hall launched an unusually varied career.  She has won acclaim not just as an intensely communicative concert pianist and recording artist, but as composer, writer and editor, broadcaster and music festival curator. In 2001, she was awarded the Order of Australia for her work. She is recognised internationally as an exponent of Percy Grainger’s music, with over 250 tracks recorded (and more to come), and as editor of The New Percy Grainger Companion .
Penelope is a musician with an exceptionally wide repertoire.  Her London debut in 1974 featured the music of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Mussorgsky. She has gone on to perform both the well-known classics alongside rarely performed repertoire, such as the Constant Lambert Piano Sonata, and works by notable Australians such as Arthur Benjamin, Peter Sculthorpe and Peggy Glanville-Hicks. Her CD, 'Travelling Between Worlds', includes many other favourite composers.
She has played as soloist with such orchestras as the London Philharmonic, the BBC Concert Orchestra,  the Philharmonia, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, City of London Sinfonia, Albany Symphony, and most of the leading Australian orchestras. She has broadcast frequently on the BBC and has devised series where she both introduced the music and performed it.
After graduating with highest honours at the top of her year in a B Mus degree from Melbourne University, she found herself initially working in and composing for the theatre. Hundreds of songs, four musicals and four revues later, she worked with West End artists on her musical (with Alan Thornhill)  Ride!Ride!, a show that has continued in production with both amateurs and professionals ever since. Gramophone Magazine described the CD as “a compelling aural drama.”
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A Bach Recital

“expressive,luxuriant playing and an intuitive  sense of the music’s architecture.... Thwaites’approach is refreshingly unfashionable, eschewing period style in favour of a Romantically–inspired pianistic approach. She exploits the instrument’s natural resonance and colouristic potential throughout the recital…there are moments too of sheer serenity”
Read the full review here

The Grainger Edition

“As for the three volumes of solo piano music, Penelope Thwaites  understands the idiom totally...One is captivated by the charm of the music...all the famous pieces, as well as all sorts of delightful surprises,  all beautifully played and recorded.” 

“Thwaites gives commanding performances of the piano works...she plays the Lisztian-style arrangements from Tchaikovsky’s Flower Waltz and Strauss’s Rosenkavalier with sensitivity and musical finesse”  THE AUSTRALIAN, 2011

Piano Volume 1 - In Dahomey

"a major contribution to the Grainger discography" 
Grainger Edition Volume 16: FANFARE

Piano Volume 2 Track 20 - Country Gardens

"A wonderful album of Grainger's solo piano music."

Piano Volume 3 Track 6 - Bridal Lullaby Ramble

"I cannot imagine a more beautiful piano sound” 

Works for Chorus and Orchestra Track 14 - Handel in the Strand

"Handel in the Strand struts and carols its stuff most life-enchantingly in the hands of Penelope Thwaites and the CLS." MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL


Works for Pianos Track 11 - Random Round

“inspirited and radiantly polyphonic performances” 

Piano Music for 4 Hands Volume 1 Track 3 - Pastoral

"A Pair of Aces . . .It would be hard to imagine more sympathetic performances than these . . . .  Thwaites and Lavender seem to breathe together."

Piano Music for 4 Hands Volume 2 Track 1 - Children's March

"Volume 2 of this highly accomplished series . . . excellent, zestful performances"   GRAMOPHONE, 1993

Not currently available

Piano Music for 4 Hands Volume 3 Track 1 - Symphonic Dance No.1

“These CDs set feet tapping and hearts bounding….buy and treasure them”

Shepherd's Hey: Gems for Piano Track 17 - Paraphrase on Tchaikowsky's Flower Waltz

“The strange whimsy within his setting of The Power of Love, The Nightingale and Jutish Medley is complemented here by classics such as Country Gardens, Shepherds Hey and Handel in the Strand, all of them uniquely telling”  
GRAMOPHONE (Critic’s Choice)

Chosen Gems for Piano Track 16 - Nell

"Grainger's gems are poetry for Thwaites ... her own individual style is marked by a genuine clarity and beauty of tone."

Songs for Mezzo Soprano Track 2 - Died for Love

"This is a glorious disc."
GRAMOPHONE (Quarterly Choice)

Songs for Tenor Track 19 A Reiver's Neck-Verse

"... Thwaites is on terrific form ..."
GRAMOPHONE  (Editor's Choice)

Songs for Baritone Track 8 - Hard-hearted Barb'ra

"Penelope Thwaites has received great acclaim as a Grainger specialist and deserves every bit of it.  She may be the best accompanist I've heard since Gerald Moore - a wide range of colour, dramatically suitable to the text, and so at one with the singer that you'd swear there was only a single performer.  This entire enterprise rises beyond the level of song recital to real chamber music."
Grainger Songs for Baritone - NET REVIEW

Travelling Between Worlds Track 2 - Chopin Nocturne in A flat Op.32 No.2

Penelope Thwaites’ deliciously poetic approach to Chopin’s imaginative pianism has been regularly on my CD player”

Ride! Ride! Track 10 - The Whole Wide World is my Parish

"Wonderfully catchy tunes...splendid voices. Musicals on disc rarely succeed unless you have the stage presentation fresh in your mind, but here the strength of Thornhill's libretto and the sheer variety of Thwaites' music combine to create a compelling aural drama." GRAMOPHONE, 2000

Solo Piano
A Bach Recital - LIR Classics
Travelling Between Worlds - LIR Classics
Australian Piano Music (LP) - Discourses ABM30
Chosen Gems for PIano - Unicorn-Kanchana CD DKP 9127
Shepherd's Hey - Gems for Piano - REGIS RRC 1107  
The Grainger Edition Vol 16  Works for Solo Piano  CHAN 9895
The Grainger Edition Vol 17  Works for Solo Piano  CHAN 9919
The Grainger Edition Vol 19  Works for Solo Piano  CHAN 10205
Duo Recordings with John Lavender
Piano Music for 4 Hands Vol.1 - Pavilion Records(Pearl)SHE CD 9611
Piano Music for 4 Hands Vol.2 - Pavilion Records(Pearl)SHE CD 9623
Piano Music for 4 Hands Vol.3 - Pavilion Records(Pearl)SHE CD 9631
Multi-Piano with John Lavender, Wayne Marshall, et al
Grainger Edition Vol.10 - Chandos Records CD CHAN 9702

Song Recordings 
with Stephen Varcoe, Martyn Hill and Della Jones
Grainger Edition Vol.2 - Songs for Baritone Chandos CHAN 9503
Grainger Edition Vol.7 - Songs for Tenor  Chandos CHAN 9610
Grainger Edition Vol.12 - Songs for Mezzo  Chandos CHAN 9730

Participation In
Debussy Volume 1 - Pagodes (arr. Grainger) - Cala CACD1001
Jungle-Book Cycle - Hyperion Records CDA66863
Grainger Edition Vol.3 Handel in the Strand - Chandos CHAN9499
An Introduction to Percy Grainger - Chandos
The Grainger Edition - Chandos
Composer and Performer
Ride! Ride! - SOMM Recordings
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You can find out more about The New Percy Grainger Companion, Edited by Penelope Thwaites, at Boydell and Brewer

Thwaites has already contributed substantially to a Grainger revival ... Here, as an editor, she manages the trick of finely balancing the various competing aspects of Grainger's energetic and highly productive life ... This New Companion succeeds in its aim to portray a complicated man in all his variety ... TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
A highly readable and important volume. [It will] prove invaluable to both performers and researchers in years to come. BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY
The New Percy Grainger Companion ... does Grainger's legacy a great service because of the rich, and at times unexpected, contexts against which the man and his music are set. MUSIC & LETTERS
This book successfully removes his masks of bravado, outrageousness, contradictions and obsessions to reveal a vulnerable, warm humane man, who was proud to call Australia home. STRINGENDO
It is a breath of fresh air ... to encounter a book that concentrates exclusively on Grainger's work as a composer, pianist and pioneering thinker. ... it contributes very usefully to a better understanding of this truly remarkable Australian figure. MUSIC FORUM
Grainger is not just a composer, or a pianist, or an arranger, he is a phenomenon. And in The New Percy Grainger Companion we are given a vision of that phenomenon in the wealth of his music and in his wide global context. DELIUS SOCIETY JOURNAL
Thwaites and her fellow contributors go far in restoring to general consciousness the full scope of Grainger's work as composer, performer, and ethnomusicologist. The book has something to offer almost every conceivable audience. ... Recommended. CHOICE
This is an invaluable book about one of music's least understood practitioners. ... British-born Australian pianist and composer Penelope Thwaites has done a terrific job piecing together the jigsaw that was Grainger. THE AUSTRALIAN
This handsome volume is an invaluable - and essential - contribution towards a fuller understanding of a composer on the cusp of overdue rediscovery. CLASSICAL MUSIC 
Recommended without hesitation. THE DELIAN
This book is full of useful advice. SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Generously filled with black and white photographs, reproductions of programmes and musical illustrations, this handsome volume is an invaluable - and essential - contribution towards a fuller understanding of a composer on the cusp of overdue recovery. INTERNATIONAL PIANO


Two fascinating programmes about Percy Grainger, drawing on Penelope’s unique experience of his music, both as scholar and pianist:
1. Lecture Recital    
The Inimitable Percy Grainger
Telling the story of his remarkable life, illustrated with a dozen of his most colourful and touching solo piano works.
2. Illustrated lecture    
Discovering Percy Grainger




A truly revealing spectrum of Grainger’s originality in myriad forms with recorded examples: world music and folk music settings, wind band  works, orchestral, multi-piano, solo song and choral works.
Here was a musician who dared to think differently about almost every aspect of music and music-making.
Also included – an example of his own extraordinary pianism as a world-class virtuoso.


For further details and availability, please contact Penelope by email or telephone (details below)



Penelope’s work is published by Bardic/Schott, and includes songs, instrumental works and music for the theatre, including the Wesley musical Ride! Ride!

For details of the ‘Ride!Ride! vocal and full scores, libretto and orchestral parts, please go direct to


Contact Penelope Thwaites at:

Penelope Thwaites AM
23 Lyndale Avenue
Tel/Fax: +44 (0)207 7945090

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Penelope Thwaites  
is a Member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians

 a Steinway Artist

and a Member of the Australian Music Centre

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