Edvard Grieg



Edvard Grieg - Peer Gynt Suites

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The Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg (Norwegian, 15 Jun 1843 – 4 Sep 1907) was a romantic composer and pianist. He is widely considered one of the leading Romantic era composers, and his music is part of the standard classical repertoire worldwide. His use and development of Norwegian folk music in his own compositions put the music of Norway in the international spectrum, as well as helping to develop a national identity

The Childhood and Youth of Grieg

Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen. He is the son of the merchant and vice-consul Alexander Grieg and his wife Gesine who was a music teacher. Gesine taught Edvard Grieg piano at the age of six. In the summer of 1858, Grieg met the famous Norwegian violinist Ole Bull,  who was a family friend; Bull recognized the 15-year-old boy's talent and persuaded his parents to send him to the Leipzig Conservatory, the piano department of which was directed by Ignaz Moscheles.
In the spring of 1860, Grieg survived a life-threatening lung disease, pleurisy and tuberculosis. Throughout his life, Grieg's health was impaired by a destroyed left lung and considerable deformity of his thoracic spine.
In 1861, at the age of 18, Grieg made his debut as a concert pianist in Karlshamn, Sweden. In 1862, he finished his studies in Leipzig and held his first concert in Bergen, where his programme included Beethoven's Pathétique sonata.

Adult Life

On 11 June 1867, Grieg married his first cousin, Nina Hagerup, a lyric soprano. The next year, their only child, Alexandra, was born. Alexandra died in 1869 from meningitis.
In 1870, Grieg met Franz Liszt in Rome. 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. In 1874–76, Grieg composed incidental music for the premiere of Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt, at the request of the author.
Grieg had close ties with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Harmonien), and later became Music Director of the orchestra from 1880 to 1882. In 1888, Grieg met Tchaikovsky in Leipzig. Grieg was struck by the sadness in Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky thought very highly of Grieg's music, praising its beauty, originality and warmth.
Grieg was awarded two honorary doctorates, first by Cambridge University in 1894 and the next from Oxford University in 1906.
Edvard Grieg died in Bergen in Sep 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 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. Grieg was cremated, and his ashes were entombed in a mountain crypt near his house named Troldhaugen, Bergen. The ashes of his wife were later placed with his.

Photo: "Eilif Peterssen-Edvard Grieg 1891" by Eilif Peterssen - Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons