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Edvard Grieg

1843-1907

Edvard Grieg was born June 15, 1843 in Bergen, Norway. At a very early age, he was taught by his mother, a professional pianist, not only to play the piano but to write and arrange music also. Later, he studied at the Leipzig Conservatory. He was further encouraged to write music by the Danish composer Niels Gade. However, it was the Norwegian composer Rikard Norraak who awakened his interest in Norwegian folk music. “Grieg fashioned his melodies in the style of Norwegian folk music, and he was a master of a harmonic style that has the power to evoke the atmosphere of his native land” (Coss, p.95).

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He moved to Christiania, now Oslo, in 1866 and lived there until 1876 where he taught music to advanced children and adults. He also became the conductor of the Philharmonic Society. In 1867, he married his cousin, Nina Hagerup, who was a distinguished soprano singer at the time. The Norwegian government granted him an annual sum of money to enable him to devote most all his time to his music. He eventually moved to a secluded house at Lofthus, and in 1885 he built the villa Trodhaugen near Bergen where he grew up. He lived there the rest of his life and died on September 4, 1907.

Grieg’s works were at first very slow in gaining recognition and he received some criticism from the more conservative composers at the time. It was the prominent Hungarian composer, Franz Liszt, who first encouraged Grieg. Then, in 1875, he gained world recognition for his famous Peer Gynt Suite, which he composed for Henrik Ibsen’s (a Norwegian writer) poetic story, "Peer Gynt." He composed numerous works both for orchestra and chorus: The Last Spring, Holberg Suite, and Olaf Trygvason. He also composed piano pieces which “were greatly influenced by that of the German romantic composers, especially Robert Schumann and Frederic Chopin” such as the Ballade in G Minor and Piano Concerto in A Minor (Coss, p.96). Edvard Grieg is the most celebrated and distinguished Norwegian composer of the 19th century.

 

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