OnJune 15, 1843, Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway.
Edvard Grieg’sparents were Alexander Grieg, who was a businessperson and a diplomat. Hismother Gesine Judith Hagerup belonged to a well-known Norwegian family, studiedmusic at Hamburg (“Who is Edvard Grieg? Everything You Need toKnow”). Grieg was brought up together with his three sisters Maren,Ingeborg Benedicte, Elisabeth and his older brother John. The Grieg’s (once Greig) family was ofScottish origin. His grandfather had traveled widely after the Battle ofCulloden in 1746 and later settled in Norway in 1770.
Griegwas brought up in a musical environment from an early age. At the age six,Grieg started piano lessons taught by his mother; who was his first pianoteacher. Grieg would sit for hours at the piano on his own exploring all kindsof tunes. A violinist, Ole Bull, who was his relative by marriage, was quick torecognize that the fifteen year old boy had some special talent when it came tothe playing the piano and encouraged himto pursue his passion in music (“Music Lessons for the Young Child”).In1858, at the proposal of the violin champion Ole Bull, Grieg was enrolled inthe Leipzig Conservatory, founded by Mendelssohn.
He disliked the discipline ofthe conservatory study course. Nevertheless, he liked the organ (an old musicalinstrument), which was a must for piano students. Grieg’s marks LeipzigConservatory was not that good this was better explained by his most profoundinterest that lay just in music. Mosak was a nickname he received at schoolafter he answered Mozart for a question posed by the teacher about the composerwho had composed a work called Requiem (MacCarteney 77). Otherstudents found it strange since Grieg rarely contributed in class and they hadnever heard of Mozart, or other such composers. Grieg, at Leipzig Conservatory,was a contemporary of Arthur Sullivan where he also regularly attended shows byWagner. Also when Clara Schumann played a piano concerto for her late husband,Robert Schumann’s, Grieg was present. In the spring of 1860, Grieg survived twodangerous lung diseases and tuberculosis; however, as a result of his lungillness, his left lung was totally damaged and suffered a significantmalformation of thoracic spine.
Eventually, Grieg suffered several respiratorydisorders, which gradually advanced to a combination of the lung and heartfailure. As a result, Grieg was admitted numerous times into hospitals both inNorway and abroad in the effort of curing the illness (Hall 105). Although life in Leipzig was not all thatfriendly for Grieg, the experience positively influenced his future musicalgrowth.Onthe 18th of August in 1861, Edvard Grieg gave his first stage performance as aconcert pianist in Karlshamn, a Swedish city. Grieg debuted in his hometown soonafter he finished his studies in Leipzig, a year later after his very firstperformance in Karlshamn, which included Beethoven’s Pathétique sonata and hisstring-quartet in d-minor (“Norwegian Classical Favourites”). Grieg’s goal was tocompose Norwegian music, he realized he needed to go overseas to have himselfin the environment that would support his development as a composer he desiredto be. For that reason Edvard Grieg went to Copenhagen, Denmark, theScandinavian city distinguished for its prosperous cultural life on a worldwidelevel.
He stayed there for three years.While in Denmark, Grieg met several people who became his lifelong friends.Some of these friends included Hartmann, and Niels Gade, both being Danishcomposers, conductor, violinist, organist and a teacher. Grieg also met RikardNordraak, who was a fellow Norwegian composer; he was the man who was behindthe composition of Norway’s national anthem. Grieg discovered that Nordraak wasa loyal friend and a source of motivation. Most importantly Grieg met Nina Hagerup, hisfirst cousin whom they had grown up together in Bergen, but later at the age ofeight years old she had moved with her family to Copenhagen. Nina was anoutstanding pianist, though the beauty of her voice is what fascinated Grieg.
On the year of 1864, Grieg secretly got engaged to Nina. Grieg later marriedher on the 11th of June in1867. On April 10th, 1868, Nina and Grieghad their first child named Alexandra. In the same year, he composed hisartistic piano concerto in a minor; which was during his stay in Sollerod,Denmark. Edmund Neupert, a Norwegian pianist and composer premiered theconcerto staged on the 3rd of April in 1869, at the Casino Theatrein Copenhagen (MacCarteney 178). Thistriumph became his last success as a composer. It earned him the glory of beingthe renowned composer of his times.
The delight of his breakthrough was short-liveddue to their daughter Alexandra who dies from meningitis on the 21stMay in 1869. Nina and Grieg were different from a typical couple. They did nothave proper roots because they had no children and ended up traveling around inEurope as two artists. In1868, Franz, who had heard Grieg’s music, wrote a recommendation which heforwarded it to the ministry of education in Norway, which enabled Grieg’s toacquire a travel grant (“Who is Edvard Grieg? Everything You Need toKnow”). Grieg and Franz met in Rome, Italy in the year of 1879.
Grieg’sViolin Sonata No. 1 extremely pleased Franz Liszt, and on Grieg’s initial visitthey revisited it. In April, Liszt went through Grieg’s scripts of his PianoConcerto, inclusive of the orchestral arrangements, which he brought along withhim during his second visit. Liszt’s audience was much impressed by hisperformance.
It was in Rome where Grieg’s collaboration with a Norwegian namedBjornson began. Throughout the 1870’s Bjornson and Grieg together madecompositions together. In1874–1876, Grieg made a composition of incidental music premiere of HenrikIbsen’s play Peer Gynt at the plea of the author.
Writing music to Ibsen’s play”Peer Gynt” was not all that cheap as he had anticipated it would be.On February 24, 1876, on Christiania Theater in Oslo, the play was firstperformed. It became an immediate success (“Why is Edvard Grieg’s ‘PeerGynt’ A Staple in Pop Culture?”). Grieg also published Peer Gynt Suite Iand II in 1888 and 1893 respectively which had the most known melodies of theplay Peer Gynt. The two suits are among the most played instrumental pieces.Grieg eventually became a celebrity all over Europe and between the years of 1880to 1882 Grieg becomes the music director of the orchestra (“NorwegianClassical Favourites”). In1884 Grieg undertook a responsibility to compose a piece to honor thetwo-hundredth anniversary of Ludvig Holberg’s, Norwegian playwright andscholar, birth. The result for Holberg suite was a five-motion piece for pianocomposed in an 18th-century dance suite manner.
After a few months,Grieg, reorganized the string symphony orchestra, and formeda lyrical and graceful music that became popular (“History of Art: Historyof Classical Music – Edvard Grieg”). By 1885, Grieg established a substantialfame. He finally settled in Troldhaugen, where he built himself a home andlived for the rest of life. For more than twenty years Grieg created a formulafor his life.
He would write throughout the spring and early summer and take a breaktowards the end of summer, and would then do lengthy concert tours over autumnand winter (Flannery 507). Later on in1885, Grieg met a Russian Composer namedTchaikovsky in Leipzig, Germany. Tchaikovsky struck Grieg by his greatness.Tchaikovsky perceived Grieg’s music as inordinately, commended its beauty,warmth, and originality. Grieg also extensively worked together withBjornstjerne Bjornson, a Norwegian composer who won the 1903 Nobel Prize inLiterature as an acclaim for his noble, splendid and resourceful poetry. Thisunion led to Grieg writing music to Bjornson’s poems. A state opera based onthe history of the Norwegian king, Olav Tryggvason who was one of Grieg’s andBjornson’s most ambitious project (Grieg 257).
Thegovernment gave him an income as he came to his retirement age. This allowedhim to quit teaching and focus on composing and publicizing his music viaconcert trips (“Who is Edvard Grieg? Everything You Need to Know”).Grieg toured numerous cities in Europe. He visited England where he was honoredwith two degrees by the University of Cambridge and the Oxford University.Grieg,in the spring of 1903, produced nine 78-rpm phonograph recordings of his pianotunes in Paris; the rpm recordings have been rerecorded on both CDs and LPs,regardless of their limited fidelity (“Norwegian Classical Favorites”).
Grieg in London of 1906 met with Percy Grainger a composer, pianist, andarranger from Australia, who was a great admirer of Grieg’s works. They quicklybonded, and in an interview on 1907, Grieg said that he had composed NorwegianPeasant Dances which no one in his country could play, but then comes a manfrom Australia who played them exactly as he intended them to be! To Grieg,Grainger was a musical genius that the Scandinavians had no alternative otherthan love (Grieg, et al. 199).
Nearingthe end of Grieg’s life, he visited Berlin and Kiel. Grieg wrote what was to behis final composition, “the Four Psalms.” Soon after he got very weak and heleft for Christiana hotel. Here Grieg was planning a trip to Britain in theautumn of 1907, but then suffered a severe heart attack. Grieg got ill and passed away on at theMunicipal Hospital in Bergen, Norway. He died at the age of 64 from heartfailure which he had suffered for a long period. Grieg’s burial was near hishouse in the wall of a cliff which overhangs a fjord. There were “over 40,000people pouring on the streets to show their final respect to the composerEdvard Haperup Grieg” (“Edvard Grieg”).
Grieg would have never imagined the impact northe immensity and influence of his works on others. Grieg, through his music,ushered in a fresh culture that shaped and cultivated the ethnic growth ofNorway. Grieg’s mesmerizing compositions, told countless stories of his hardwork and scuffles, particularly in periods where he was not recognized(“Who is Edvard Grieg? Everything You Need to Know”). His works alsobrought forward his vast talents that served as a great influence andmotivation for other up-coming musicians. On Grieg’s many travels aroundEurope, he came across and made friends with other composer’s like FredericDelius, Julius Röntgen, Peter Tchaikowsky, and Camille Saint-Saens and manymore. He also inspired “composers like Bela Bartok, Maurice Ravel, and ClaudeDebussy, and a few others” (“.
Edvard Grieg | Troldhaugen.”). PeerGynt SuitesEdvardGrieg’s reaction to Henrik Ibsen’s play “Peer Gynt” amuses many. It isdistinguished by high levels of imagination, creativity as well as unexpectedeffects.
The melody cast’s a precise and versatile spell together with thetext, but the music has been heard through numerous historical filters whichjeopardize its power althrough. In general, it is accounted for as one of theleading representations of the Norwegian National distinction, thus in mostcases it is understood as one-dimensioned. Although a significant number of “peoplelove this piece of Grieg’s music, it is also seen as used to romanticizeIbsen’s, at times, blunt text” (“Norwegian Classical Favourites”).Ibsen’s text and Grieg’s suits lived separate lives and are only indirectlyconnected to the stage. PeerGynt is a play by Henrik Ibsen (a famous author of works like A Doll’s Housefame, Hedda Gabler, An Enemy of the People, among many other works, and alsoone of the fathers of Modernism).
It is about a Norwegian farm boy who spendshis time through: lazy dreaming, boasting, fighting, telling lies, swindling,and also one who womanizes his way through society. Peer gives up the love ofhis life and all his friends, and he never hesitates to sacrifice the lives ofothers so that he may live; Peer is the hero (Ibsen and Boyer 177). He is a manin the process of self-realization. During Peer’s youthful age, he lived inimaginary adventures which to him are so vivid that they almost become his lifeencounters.
He dreams of being an emperor of his world though he was neverprepared for it when the opportunity presents itself. The Peer Gynt playillustrates Gynt’s whole life fantasies, travel, and crimes. Ibsen,nevertheless, is interested in the honesty and great solemnity of Peerregardless of him being a bad person. This play is filled with drama, thrill,catastrophes, and humor all pounded together as one (“Grieg’s Peer GyntSuite – Charming Norwegian Music”). PeerGynt suites, written by Edvard Grieg in 1875, is an incidental music composedfor the Henrik Ibsen’s, 1867 play going by the same name.
Grieg’s typically decentmusic magnificently turns the great Norwegian feel and scheme of the Peer Gyntplay and gives life to the various moods created within the play through everyepisode (“Norwegian Classical Favourites”). When Ibsen requested himto compose the incidental music was for the play’s first production; clearly,Grieg experienced some strains representing the philosophical face of the play(“Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46”). Grieg’s fame as the greatestwriter symphonist in the country, consequently aided to the establishment ofHenrik Ibsen’s triumph on the international platform.
It was first stagedalongside the play on the 24th of February in Christina, now knownas Oslo. It was from the soundtracks of Peer Gynt thatGrieg generated two suites, Suite No. 1, Op.
46, and Suite No. 2, Op. 55. Eachsuite being in for movements, now more staged than the earlier play. The suiteNo.
1 opens with the prelude to “Morning Mood” of Act IV of the play. It is setin Northern Africa’s desert landscapes. As Grieg composed this music, he saidthat he imagined the sun breaking through the clouds at the first forte.Although the music would have easily worked one of the drama’s Norwegian scene,a pastoral melody, mainly over long-held, still bass notes, unwinds quietly,waxing and waning in intensity (“Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46”).
This makes everything seem fresh and lovely.”Aase’sDeath,” is the second movement. The relationship that Peer had with Ase, his mother,was quite unresolved to put it gently.
As scene No. 1 of the drama progresses,we see Peer and Ase fiercely arguing, and she calls him a liar and an idleworthless person. Peer as a response lifts Ase up and places her on the millhouse roof from where she cannot come down without help (“Peer Gynt SuiteNo.
1″). After that, Ase lies dying, Peer settles down next to her, andonce again starts fantasizing about courting her out riding on a horse toSoria-Moria Castle where she imagines his mother being hailed by St. Peter withdeep respect.
The music at this movement, unlike the uproars going on, is softindependent plaint for strings (“Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46”). Itis a simple but still touching tune through three times, each time growinglouder and louder; as the associated color theme fades out the movement verysoftly. That shows Grieg’s expertise rule on power and simplicity.The3rd movement the name Anitra’s Dance was in a “Tempo di Mazurka,” aPolish folk dance in triple time, usually at a lively tempo, and with”strong accents unsystematically placed on the second or third beat”(“Mazurka”). Based on the fact this event of the play is set in thedesert oasis in the Northern part of Africa, geographically it may seemunfitting taking into account that the mazurka is a Polish (West Slaviclanguage mainly spoken in Poland) dance.
The lively chromaticism of the movement issuperbly in character for this incident where Gynt is seen posturing as aprophet. He is smoking his long pipe in the tent of an Arab headman, enjoyingthe song and dancing with some Arabian girls, he isolates one of the girlsnamed Anitra for special attention (“Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46”).It is a seductive dance that awakens the gracefulness of the chieftain’sdaughter, Antara with whom Peer is captivated.Theend of Suite No. 1, Op. 46, is marked by a hugely famous piece of Grieg’smelody, “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” it’s possibly the most well-knowntune.
In this scene, Peer is in a dream-like fantasy, meets a woman clothed ingreen who takes him to Dovregubben, the Troll Mountain King who is the woman’sfather. Peer almost becomes a Troll and almost marries the Troll’s princess.After impregnating the princess, Peer backs out at the last minute though scaredof losing his human identity. The antic music of the mountain people grows moreand more sinister and wild as the volume grows increasingly loud (Hall 177).The angry Troll almost kills Peer towards the end of this movement. Thisdelirious piece illustrates unconventional dances gnomes, as they run afterPeer Gynt (“In the Hall of the Mountain King”). The music progressesover and over growing louder and fiercer each time. Griegcomposed Peer Gynt Suite No.
2, Op. 55 a few years later and it was publishedin the year 1893. The first movement of scene one, “The Abduction of the Bride.Peer and Ingrid”, Peer Gynt abducts Ingrid in the middle of her wedding.
Hetakes her to the mountains. Although Ingrid would have preferred Peer, Peerssoon loses the urge of being with her and wants to get rid of her. Peer turnsScornful and uncaring and this becomes hurtful to Ingrid. Grieg ushers inIngrid’s lamentations with a strong music that characterizes Peer the creatorof fantasies. The music has a hard, distorted, minor-key feeling. A painfulsteadily repeated pedal-point D in the Viola register unfolds over Ingrid’sbegging’s and appealing’s.
This sounds as if it is from depths of her soul,which makes Peer disparate to (“GRIEG, E.: Orchestral Music, Vol. 4 – PeerGynt Suites / Orchestral Songs (Malmo Symphony, Engeset)”. This G minorchords by Grieg brings in the feeling of supernatural and sort of demonicforces wandering and misunderstanding, the loss and grief. It all startsquickly and gradually goes out to be sad and dramatic.Thesecond scene of suite No. 2, Arabian Dance, is launched with a soft percussionsound. Anitra and a few other women, in pretense, hail Peer as a prophet fromthe North.
The attractiveness of the tonality and chords dominates thealternation of the melodic notes and every orchestral sound. Two soundingflutes imitate the Arab ney flute. To make this melody sound real Turkish,Grieg introduces the low bassoons and drumming (“Edvard Hagerup GriegFacts, Information, and Pictures”). This sweet little tune evokes Gynt’sjourneys in to Morocco.
PeerGynt’s homecoming is the third scene. This evening Peer is on a passenger’sship on a stormy sea. The scene’s music is contrast, but also same timeparallel to nature’s impression as was the case with Morning mood in the suiteNo.1 scene one. It is full of colors, chromatic lines, and accents. He uses thetuba in a very brilliant way as a steamship’s whistle, or as a foghorn or as anatural musical stimulant in the climax. Peer is caught up in nature’s power.The real hazard of catastrophic forces of nature is the Nature’s music.
WhenGrieg composed the music for this scene, he was doubtful of writing music thatreflected nature to categorically (“GRIEG, E.: Orchestral Music, Vol. 4 -Peer Gynt Suites / Orchestral Songs (Malmo Symphony, Engeset)”). This stormy piece, in which Grieg gave hisall in depicting the storm, describes Gynt’s voyage back home to Norway. By MotherNature Peer is shipwrecked.Towards the end of this suite, Grieg made a new, uniquely-writtentransformational passage for wind instruments. Yearning strings overtake thethin strand of life as expressed by the woodwind sound instruments played inunison, still high though muted, yielding the Solveig’s Song.
Solveig ischaracterized by integrity, faithfulness, truthfulness and on top of it allcertainly of what she wants, in this case, Peer. At this point in a suddenmanner, the play spirits us away far from Africa’s Sahara Desert all the way toNorway. We now meet Solveig as a middle-aged woman sitting outside with herspinning wheel hymning.
The soft woodwind chords after the introduction andthose that came in between the phrases, and Grieg could have used it torepresent Solveig’s longing notions and glances, or the sounds of the forests,else legend, and nature. Grieg says that this is his only music much influencedby folk music (Grieg 199). Grieg achieves capturing an environment of wistfulsadness, through the discordant chords nearing the end of the stanzas, and alsothe chromatics in the inner voices with an utterly beautiful tune (Grieg et al.197).