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Edvard Grieg (1891), a portrait by Eilif Peterssen.

Edvard Hagerup Grieg (15 June 1843 – 4 September 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist who composed in the Romantic period. He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor, for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt (which includes Morning Mood and In the Hall of the Mountain King), and for his collection of piano miniatures Lyric Pieces.

Contents

Biography

Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway on 15 June 1843. The original family name was spelled Greig, originally from Scotland. After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, his great-grandfather traveled widely, settling in Norway around 1770, and establishing business interests in Bergen. Grieg was raised in a musical home. His mother, Gesine B. Hagerup, became his first piano teacher, who taught him to play from the age of 6. He studied in several schools including Tank's School, and often brought in examples of his music to class.

In the summer of 1858, Grieg met the eminent Norwegian violinist Ole Bull, who was a friend of the family, and whose brother was married to Grieg's aunt. Bull noticed the 15-year-old boy's talent and persuaded his parents to send him to further develop his talents at the Leipzig Conservatory, then directed by Ignaz Moscheles.

Grieg enrolled in the conservatory, concentrating on the piano, and enjoyed the numerous concerts and recitals given in Leipzig. He disliked the discipline of the conservatory course of study, yet he still achieved very good grades in most areas, an exception being the organ, which was mandatory for piano students. In the spring of 1860, he survived a life-threatening lung disease. The following year he made his debut as a concert pianist, in Karlshamn, Sweden. In 1862, he finished his studies in Leipzig, and held his first concert in his home town of Bergen, where his programme included Beethoven's Pathétique sonata. (Grieg's own recording of his Piano Sonata, made late in his life, shows he was an excellent pianist).

In 1863, Grieg went to Copenhagen, Denmark, and stayed there for three years. He met the Danish composers J. P. E. Hartmann and Niels Gade. He also met his fellow Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak (composer of the Norwegian national anthem), who became a good friend and source of great inspiration. Nordraak died in 1866, and Grieg composed a funeral march in his honor. Grieg had close ties with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Harmonien), and later became Music Director of the orchestra from 1880–1882.

On 11 June 1867, Grieg married his first cousin (a daughter of Edvard Hagerup), Nina Hagerup. The next year, their only child, Alexandra, was born. She died in 1869 from meningites. In the summer of 1868, Grieg wrote his Piano Concerto in A minor while on holiday in Denmark. Edmund Neupert gave the concerto its premiere performance on 3 April 1869 in the Casino Theater in Copenhagen. Grieg himself was unable to be there due to conducting commitments in Christiania (as Oslo was then named).

In 1868, Franz Liszt, who had not yet met Grieg, wrote a testimonial for him to the Norwegian Ministry of Education, which led to Grieg obtaining a travel grant. The two men met in Rome in 1870. On Grieg's first visit, they went over Grieg's Violin Sonata No. 1, which pleased Liszt greatly. On his second visit, in April, Grieg brought with him the manuscript of his Piano Concerto, which Liszt proceeded to sightread (including the orchestral arrangement). Liszt's rendition greatly impressed his audience, although Grieg gently pointed out to him that he played the first movement too quickly. Liszt also gave Grieg some advice on orchestration, (for example, to give the melody of the second theme in the first movement to a solo trumpet).

Grieg's tomb

In 1876, Grieg composed incidental music for the premiere of Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt, at the request of the author. Many of the pieces from this work became very popular in the orchestral suites or piano and piano-duet arrangements.

In 1888, Grieg met Tchaikovsky in Leipzig. Grieg was later struck by the sadness in Tchaikovsky.[1] Tchaikovsky thought very highly of Grieg's music, praising its beauty, originality and warmth.[2]

Grieg's later life brought him fame. The Norwegian government awarded him a pension.

In the spring 1903, Grieg made nine 78-rpm gramophone recordings of his piano music in Paris; all of these historic discs have been reissued on both LPs and CDs and, despite limited fidelity, show his artistry as a pianist. Grieg also made live-recording player piano music rolls for the Welte-Mignon reproducing system, all of which survive today and can be heard.

In 1906, he met the composer and pianist Percy Grainger in London. Grainger was a great admirer of Grieg's music and a strong empathy was quickly established. In a 1907 interview, Grieg stated: “I have written Norwegian Peasant Dances that no one in my country can play, and here comes this Australian who plays them as they ought to be played! He is a genius that we Scandinavians cannot do other than love.”[3]

Edvard Grieg died in the autumn of 1907, aged 64, after a long period of illness. His final words were "Well, if it must be so." The funeral drew between 30,000 and 40,000 people out on the streets of his home town to honor him. Following his wish, his own Funeral March in Memory of Rikard Nordraak was played in an orchestration by his friend Johan Halvorsen, who had married Grieg's niece. In addition, the Funeral March movement from Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 was played. His and his wife's ashes are entombed in a mountain crypt near his house, Troldhaugen.

Music

Grieg is renowned as a nationalist composer, drawing inspiration from Norwegian folk music. Early works include a symphony (which he later suppressed) and a piano sonata. He also wrote three sonatas for violin and piano and a cello sonata. His many short pieces for piano — often based on Norwegian folk tunes and dances — led some to call him the "Chopin of the North".

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The Piano Concerto is his most popular work. Its champions have included the pianist and composer Percy Grainger, a personal friend of Grieg who played the concerto frequently during his long career. An arrangement of part of the work made an iconic television comedy appearance in the 1971 Morecambe and Wise Show, conducted by André Previn.

Some of the Lyric Pieces (for piano) are also well-known, as is the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt, a play that Grieg found to be an arduous work to score properly. In a 1874 letter to his friend Frants Beyer, Grieg expressed his unhappiness with what is now considered one of his most popular compositions from Peer Gynt, In the Hall of the Mountain King: "I have also written something for the scene in the hall of the mountain King - something that I literally can't bear listening to because it absolutely reeks of cow-pies, exaggerated Norwegian nationalism, and trollish self-satisfaction! But I have a hunch that the irony will be discernible."[4]

Grieg's popular Holberg Suite was originally written for the piano, and later arranged by the composer for string orchestra.

Grieg wrote songs, in which he set lyrics by poets Heinrich Heine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Henrik Ibsen, Hans Christian Andersen, Rudyard Kipling and others.

Russian composer Nikolai Myaskovsky used a theme by Grieg for the variations with which he closed his Third String Quartet.

Worklist (exc.)

See also

Further reading

English

  • Edvard Grieg in England by Lionel Carley (The Boydell Press 2006) ISBN 1843832070
  • Grieg: Music, Landscape and Norwegian Cultural Identity by Daniel Grimley (The Boydell Press 2006) ISBN 1843832100
  • Songs of Edvard Grieg by Beryl Foster (The Boydell Press new edition 2007) ISBN 1843833433
  • Edvard Grieg by Henry Theophilius Finck (Bastian Books new edition 2008) ISBN 9780554963266

Norwegian

  • Benestad, Finn/Schjelderup-Ebbe, Dag (2007): Edvard Grieg – mennesket og kunstneren. H. Aschehoug & Co. (W. Nygaard), Oslo. ISBN 9788203234590
  • Bredal, Dag/Strøm-Olsen, Terje (1992): Edvard Grieg – Musikken er en kampplass. Aventura Forlag A/S, Oslo. ISBN 82-588-0890-7
  • Johansen, David Monrad (1956): Edvard Grieg. Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, Oslo.

References

  1. ^ Gretchen Lamb. "First Impressions, Edvard Grieg". http://www.oocities.com/vienna/5648/I_1st1.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-11.  Lamb cites David Brown's Tchaikovsky Remembered
  2. ^ Richard Freed. "Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16". http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/index.cfm?fuseaction=composition&composition_id=2131. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  3. ^ John Bird, Percy Grainger , Oxford University Press, 1999, P. 133-134.
  4. ^ Layton, Robert (1998). Grieg: Illustrated Lives of the Great Composers. Omnibus Press. pp. 75. ISBN 0711948119.  See also: Tommasini, Anthony (2007-09-16). "Respect at Last for Grieg?". Music (The New York Times). http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/arts/music/16tomm.html. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 

External links

Recordings by Edvard Grieg

Music scores


Simple English

Edvard Grieg (born 15 June 1843 Bergen, Norway; died 4 September 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist who composed in the Romantic period. He is Norway’s most famous composer. He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor and for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt which includes movements called Aubade and In the Hall of the Mountain King. He was usually at his best when writing shorter pieces, such as the collection of piano pieces called Lyric Pieces. He also wrote some very lovely songs to Norwegian and to German words.

Contents

Early Life

Grieg was born in Bergen on 15 June 1843. His ancestors were Scottish people who had moved to Norway around 1770. The original family name was spelt "Greig".

Grieg came from a musical home. His mother was his first piano teacher. He went to several schools, and started composing when he was young. He used to take his compositions to school, but the teacher did not show much interest in them.

In the summer of 1858 Grieg met the great Norwegian violinist Ole Bull, who was a friend of the family, and whose brother was married to Grieg's aunt. Bull noticed the 15-year-old boy's talent and persuaded his parents to let him go to Leipzig in Germany to study music.

Grieg enrolled in the conservatory, concentrating on the piano, and enjoyed all the concerts and recitals given in Leipzig. He did not like the discipline of the conservatory course of study, but he still got very good grades. The first piano recital he gave was in Sweden. In 1862 he finished his studies in Leipzig and went back to Bergen where he gave another recital.

In 1863 Grieg went to Copenhagen, Denmark, and stayed there for three years. He met the Danish composers J. P. E. Hartman, and Niels Gade. Gade told him to go and write a symphony. Grieg did not feel happy writing a long symphony although he did try. He also met the Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak who had composed the Norwegian national anthem. Nordraak showed Grieg how wonderful Norwegian folk music was. Grieg had hardly heard any Norwegian folk music until then. When Nordraak died, Grieg composed a funeral march in his honour.

Mature years

On 11 June 1867, Grieg married his first cousin Nina. The next year their only child, Alexandra, was born. The following summer, Grieg wrote his Piano Concerto in A minor while on holiday in Denmark. Edmund Neupert gave the concerto its first performance on 3 April 1869 in the Casino Theater in Copenhagen. Grieg himself was unable to be there because he was conducting in Christiana (now called “Oslo”).

File:Troldhaugen in
Grieg’s home Troldhaugen in Bergen

In the summer of 1869, Grieg's daughter Alexandra became ill and died, at the age of 13 months.

In 1870 he met Franz Liszt in Rome. Liszt had made it possible for Grieg to get a travel grant. They played Grieg's Violin Sonata No. 1 together, which Liszt liked very much.. On a second visit, in April, Grieg brought with him the manuscript of his Piano Concerto which Liszt played by sight. Liszt gave him some advice about the orchestration.

Grieg spent most of his time conducting and playing the piano in concerts. He often travelled, and in 1876 he went to Bayreuth to hear the first performance of Wagner’s Ring cycle. He wrote a review of the operas for a Norwegian newspaper.

In 1876, Ibsen asked Grieg to write some incidental music for the first performance of the play he had written about the Norwegian hero Peer Gynt,. Many of the pieces from this work became very popular. They are played by orchestras as well as in arrangements for piano or for piano duet.

Later life

In 1883 he and wife parted for a while, although friends managed to persuade the couple to come together again and they spent four months in Rome. They built a house called Troldhaugen in Bergen, with a view of the fjord. They moved into the house in 1885 and Grieg lived there for the rest of his life. They continued to travel and give concerts. Nina had a good voice and sang her husband’s songs. Grieg only performed his own works at concerts. During his last years he received many honours.

In his later life Grieg became famous, although never rich. The Norwegian government gave him a pension. Grieg made some recordings of his piano pieces. These are some of the very first gramophone recordings that were made. The sound is not very good, but they show that Grieg was an excellent pianist. He also recorded music rolls on a pianola.

Edvard Grieg died in the autumn of 1907, aged 64, after a long illness. He had suffered from respiratory problems ever since he was very ill in 1860 as a student in Leipzig. At his funeral thousands of people went out on the streets of his home town to honour him. Following his wish, his own funeral march for Rikard Nordraak was played, as well as the funeral march by Frederic Chopin. His and his wife's ashes are buried in a mountain crypt near his house, Troldhaugen.

Music

Grieg was often inspired by Norwegian folk music. This can be heard in his songs and some of his instrumental music. His chamber music includes 3 violin sonatas and a cello sonata as well as a piano sonata and many shorter piano pieces. However, he has become very well known all over the world through his Piano Concerto and his music for Peer Gynt. Another popular work is his Holberg Suite which was originally written for the piano but later arranged for string orchestra.

Trivia

The famous opening of Grieg’s Piano Concerto featured in a comedy sketch by Morecambe and Wise in the 1970s. The conductor André Previn was their special guest in the sketch which has become a classic.mrj:Григ, Эдвард








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