Grieg, Edvard (Hagerup)
Grieg, Edvard (Hagerup)
Grieg, Edvard (Hagerup), celebrated Norwegian composer; b. Bergen, June 15, 1843; d. there, Sept. 4, 1907. The original form of the name was Greig. His great-grandfather, Alexander Greig, of Scotland, emi-grated to Norway about 1765, and changed his name to Grieg. Edvard Grieg received his first instruction in music from his mother, an amateur pianist. At the suggestion of the Norwegian violinist Ole Bull, young Grieg was sent to the Leipzig Cons. (1858), where he studied piano with Plaidy, Wenzel, and Moscheles, and theory with E.F. Richter, Robert Papperitz, Moritz Hauptmann, and Reinecke. He became immersed in the atmosphere of German Romanticism, with the esthetic legacy of Mendelssohn and Schumann; Grieg’s early works are permeated with lyric moods related to these influences. In 1863 he went to Copenhagen, where he took a brief course of study with Niels Gade. In Copenhagen, he also met the young Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak, with whom he organized the Euterpe Soc. for the promotion of national Scandinavian music, in opposition to the German influences dominating Scandinavian music. The premature death of Nordraak at the age of 23 (1866) left Grieg alone to carry on the project. After traveling in Italy, he returned to Norway, where he opened a Norwegian Academy of Music (1867), and gave concerts of Norwegian music; he was also engaged as conductor of the Harmonic Soc. in Christiania. In 1867 he married his cousin, the singer Nina Hagerup. At that time he had already composed his 2 violin sonatas and the first set of his Lyric Pieces for Piano, which used Norwegian motifs. On April 3, 1869, Grieg played the solo part in the world premiere of his Piano Concerto, which took place in Copenhagen. Thus, at the age of 25, he established himself as a major composer of his time. In 1874-75 he wrote incidental music to Ibsen’s Peer Gynt; the 2 orch. suites arranged from this music became extremely popular. The Norwegian government granted him an annuity of 1,600 crowns, which enabled him to devote most of his time to composition. Performances of his works were given in Germany with increasing frequency; soon his fame spread all over Europe. On May 3, 1888, he gave a concert of his works in London; he also prepared recitals of his songs with his wife. He revisited England frequently; received the honorary degree of Mus.Doc. from Cambridge (1894) and Oxford (1906). Other honors were membership in the Swedish Academy (1872), the French Academy (1890), etc. Despite his successes, Grieg was of a retiring disposition, and spent most of his later years in his house at Troldhaugen, near Bergen, avoiding visitors and shunning public acclaim. however, he continued to compose at a steady rate. His death, of heart disease, was mourned by all Norway; he was given a state funeral and his remains were cremated, at his own request, and sealed in the side of a cliff projecting over the fjord at Troldhaugen.
Grieg’s importance as a composer lies in the strongly pronounced nationalism of his music; without resorting to literal quotation from Norwegian folk songs, he succeeded in recreating their melodic and rhythmic flavor. In his harmony, he remained well within the bounds of tradition; the lyric expressiveness of his best works and the contagious rhythm of his dancelike pieces imparted a charm and individuality which contributed to the lasting success of his art. His unassuming personality made friends for him among his colleagues; he was admired by Brahms and Tchaikovsky. The combination of lyricism and nationalism in Grieg’s music led some critics to describe him as “the Chopin of the North.” He excelled in miniatures, in which the perfection of form and the clarity of the musical line are remarkable; the unifying purpose of Grieg’s entire creative life is exemplified by his lyric pieces for piano. He composed 10 sets of these pieces in 34 years, between 1867 and 1901. His songs are distinguished by the same blend of Romantic and characteristically national inflections. In orch. composition, Grieg limited himself almost exclusively to symphonic suites, and arrangements of his piano pieces; in chamber music, his 3 violin sonatas, a Cello Sonata, and a String Quartet are examples of fine instrumental writing. E Benestad was chairman of the Edvard Grieg Committee in Oslo from 1980, which oversaw the completion of Grieg’s complete works in 20 vols. in 1995.
DRAMATIC Incidental music to Bjornson’s Sigurd Jorsalfar for Voice, Men’s Chorus, and Orch., op.22 (Christiania, April 10, 1872), and to Ibsen’s Peer Gynt for Solo Voices, Chorus, and Orch., op. 23 (1874-75; Christiania, Feb. 24, 1876; rev. 1885 and 1891-92); Szenen aus Olav Trygvason, op. 50 (1873; rev. and orchestrated 1889). ORCH.: Sym. in C minor (1864); Im Herbst, overture, op.11 (1866; rev. and orchestrated 1887; orig. for Piano, 4-Hands); Trauermarsch zum Andenken an Richard Nordraak for Military Band (1866; rev. 1878; orig. for Piano, 2-Hands); Piano Concerto in A minor, op.16 (1868; Copenhagen, April 3, 1869; rev. 1906-07); Zwei nordische Weisen for String Orch., op.63 (1869; orchestrated 1895; 1, Im Volkston [from the piano piece, op.17, no. 22]; 2, Kuhreigen [from the piano piece, op.17, no. 18]); Drei Orchesterstiicke aus Sigurd Jorsalfar, op.56 (1872; rev. 1892); Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, op.46 (1874-75; rev. 1888); Peer Gynt Suite No. 2, op.55 (1874-75; rev. 1891 and 1892); Zwei elegische Melodier for String Orch., op.34 (1881; 1, Herzwunden [from the song, op.33, no. 3]; 2, Letzter Fruhling [from the song, op.33, no. 2]); Piano Concerto in B minor (1882-83; unfinished); Aus Holbergs Zeit, suite for String Orch., op.40 (1884; orchestrated 1885; orig. for Piano, 2- Hands); Altnorwegische Romanze mit Variationen, op.51 (1891; orchestrated 1900; orig. for 2 Pianos); Zwei Melodien for String Orch., op.53 (1891; 1, Norwegisch [from the song, op.33, no. 12]; 2, Erstes Begegnen [from the song, op.21, no. 1]); Lyrische Suite, op.54 (1891; orchestrated 1904; based on the piano pieces, op.54, nos. 1, 2, 4, and 3); (4) Symphonische Tanze, op.64 (1896-97; also for Piano, 4-Hands); Zwei lyrische Stucke (1898; orig. for Piano, 2-Hands, op.68, nos. 4 and 5) . CHAMBER : String Quartet in D minor (1861; not extant); Violin Sonata No. 1, in F major, op.8 (1865); Violin Sonata No. 2, in G major, op.13 (1867); Intermezzo in A minor for Cello and Piano (1867); Veed mandjaevningen (Trial of Strength), march for Violin and Piano (1874; arranged from Sigurd Jorsalfar, op.22, no. 2); String Quartet in G minor, op.27 (1877-78); Andante con moto in C minor for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1878; 2nd movement from an unfinished piano trio); Cello Sonata in A minor, op.36 (1883); Violin Sonata No. 3, in C minor, op.45 (1886-87); String Quartet in F major (1891; unfinished). Piano : Vier Stucke, op.l (1861); (6) Poetiske tonebilleder, op.3 (1863); (4) Humoresker, op.6 (1865); Sonata in E major, op.7 (1865; rev. 1887); Sorgemarsch over Rikard Nordraak (Funeral March for Rikard Nordraak), in A minor (1866; also for Orch.); Lyriske smaastykker (Lyric Pieces), op.12 (1864-67); Norske folkeviser og dandse, op.17 (1869); Folkelivsbilleder (Pictures from Life in the Country), op.19 (1870-71); Sex norske fjeldmelodier (6 Norwegian Mountain Tunes, as arr. by Grieg; 1874-75; rev. 1886); Ballade in Form von Variationen uber eine norwegische Melodic in G minor, op.24 (1875-76); fire albumblade, op.28 (1864-78); Improvisata over to norske folkeviser, op.29 (1878); Neue lyrische Stucke, op.38 (1883); Fra Holbergs tid (From Holberg’s Time), op.40 (1884; also for Orch.); Klavierstiicke nach eigenen Liedern, op.41 (1884); Lyrische Stucke, op.43 (1886); Norwegische Tanze, op.35 (1887; arrangement of pieces for Piano, 4-Hands, op.35); Walzer-Capricen (1887; arrangement of pieces for Piano, 4-Hands, op.37); Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 (1888; arrangement of the orch. suite, op.46); Lyrische Stucke, op.47 (1885-88); Altnorwegische Romanze mit Variationen, op.51 (for two pianos, 1891) Lyrische Stucke, op.54 (1891; nos. 1 to 4 orchestrated as Lyrische Suite, 1904); Gebet und Tempeltanz (1893; arrangement from the Olav Trygvason scenes, op.50); Peer Gynt Suite No. 2 (1893; arrangement of the orch. suite, op.55); Drei Orchesterstucke aus Sigurd Jørsalfar (1893; arrangement of the orch. pieces, op.56); Lyrische Stucke, op.57 (1893); Lyrische Stucke, op.62 (1895); Zwei nordische Weisen (1896; arrangement of the orch. pieces, op.63); Lyrische Stucke, op.65 (1897); Norske folkeviser, op.66 (1897); Drei Klavierstiicke (1891-98); Lyrische Stucke, op.68 (1898; nos. 4 and 5 also for Orch.); Lyrische Stucke, op.71 (1901); Sldtter (Norwegian Peasant Dances), op.72 (1902-03); Stimmungen, op.73 (1903-05). Piano Four Hand : Deux pieces symphonicjues, op.14 (1863-64); I host (In Autumn), op.ll (1866; based on the song Efteraarsstormen, op.18, no. 4); Sigurd Jørsalfar (1874; 3 pieces from the incidental music, op.22); (4) Norwegische Tanze, op.35 (also for Piano, 2-Hands); (2) Walzer-Capricen, op.37 (1883; also for Piano, 2-Hands); Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 (1888; arrangement of the orch. suite, op.46); Peer Gynt Suite No. 2 (1893; arrangement of the orch. suite, op.55); Drei Orchesterstucke aus Jørsalfar (1893; arrangement of the orch. pieces, op.56); Brudefolget draggerforbi (The Bridal Procession Passes; 1893; arrangement of the piano piece, op.19, no. 2); Zwei nordische Weisen (1896; arrangement of the orch. pieces, op.63); (4) Symphonische Tanze, op.64 (1897; arrangement of the orch. pieces, op.64). VOCAL: With Orch.: Cantata for the unveiling of the Christie monument in Bergen, for Men’s Voices and Military Band (1868); Foran sydens kloster (At a Southern Convent’s Gate) for Soprano, Alto, Women’s Voices, and Orch., op.20 (1871); Bergliot, melodrama for Declamation and Orch., op.42 (1871; orchestrated 1885); Landkjending (Land-sighting) for Baritone, Men’s Chorus, Orch., and Organ ad libitum, op.31 (1872; rev. 1881); Den bergtekne (The Mountain Thrall) for Baritone, 2 Horns, and Strings, op.32 (1877-78); (6) Lieder for Voice and Orch. (1874-95). Choral (all for Men’s Voices unless otherwise given): Borneskytten (The Bear Hunt; 1867); Aftenstemning (Evening Mood; 1867); Valg-sang; Hvad siger de dog om dig (Election Song: What Are They Saying about You; 1868); Den norske sjomand (The Norwegian Sailor; 1868-70); Ved Welhavens baare (At Welhaven’s Bier; 1873); Opsang til frihedsfolket i Norden (Ballad of the Scandinavian Freedom Lovers; 1874); Ved Halfdan Kjerulfs mindestotte (At Halfdan Kjerulfs Monument), cantata for Tenor and Men’s Voices (1874); Album for mandssang, arrangements of Norwegian folk songs, op.30 (1877-78); Mm dejligste tanke (My Loveliest Thoughts; 1881); Vort Iosen (Our Solution; 1881); Sangerhilsen (Salute in Song; 1883); Holberg-kantate for Baritone and Men’s Voices (1884); Flagvise (Flag Song; 1893); Vestanveir faedervise (Wind from the West; 1896); Kristianiensernes sangerhilsen (Salute in Song from Kristiania) for Baritone and Chorus (1896); Till Ole Bull: Hvor sodt at favnes (To Ole Bull: How Sweet to Be Embraced; 1901); Fire salmer (4 Psalms) for Baritone and Mixed Voices, op.74 (1906); also a few unpubl. works. S o n g s : Vier Lieder fur Altstimme, op.2 (1861); Sex digte, op.4 (1863-64); Hjertets melodier (The Heart’s Melodies), op.5 (1863-64); Romancer og ballader, op.9 (1863-66); Fire Romancer, op. 10 (1864); Mm lillefugl (My Little Bird; 1865); Romancer, op.15 (1864-68); Romancer og sange, op.18 (1865-69); Odalisken synger (Song of the Odalisque; 1870); Prinsessen (The Princess; 1871); Fire digte, op.21 (1870-72); Til Generalkonsul Tønsberg (1873); Sex digte, op.25 (1876); Fern digte, op.26 (1876); Tolv melodier, op.33 (1873-80); Romancer, op.39 (1869-84); Under juletraet (Under the Christmas Tree; 1885); Rejseminder: Fra fjeld og fjord (Reminiscences: From Mountain and Fjord), op.44 (1886); Sechs Lieder, op.48 (1889); Sechs Gedichte, op.49 (1889); Osterlied (1889); Norge, op.58 (1893-94); Elegiske digte, op.59 (1893-94); Digte, op.60 (1893-94); Sange, op.61 (1894-95); Haugtussa, op.67 (1895); Ave maria Stella (1899); Fern digte, op.69 (1900); Fern digte, op.70 (1900); Efterladte sange, I and II (1865-1905); also several unpubl. songs.
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—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire
Grieg, Edvard (Hagerup)