Edvard Grieg

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About Edvard Grieg

Inspired by the popular folk music of his homeland, Edvard Grieg forged a distinctive creative style that established Norway on the musical map. Born in the coastal town of Bergen in 1843, Grieg initially looked set for a conventional composing career, training at the Leipzig Conservatory. However, contact with the deeply nationalistic composer Rikard Nordraak (1842–66) convinced him his future lay with Norway, and in a flurry of inspiration he composed a Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 16 (1868), whose finale features a Norwegian-style halling (a celebratory folk dance traditionally performed at weddings) that then morphs into a triple-time springdans. Meanwhile, he produced the first in a series of 10 books of solo piano Lyric Pieces Op. 12 (1866–67), whose exquisite enchantments (including an Elves’ Dance and Norwegian Melody) acted as preparatory pieces for his larger opuses. Indeed, virtually everything Grieg subsequently composed up until his death in 1907—including his indelible vignettes for Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt (1876), the deeply introspective Two Elegiac Melodies Op. 34 for strings (1880), and the majestic orchestral Symphonic Dances Op. 64 (1898)—seemed to distill the very essence of Norwegian musical culture.

Bergen, Norway
June 15, 1843
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