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Edvard Grieg

(1843—1907) Norwegian composer, conductor, and violinist

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(b Bergen, 1843; d Bergen, 1907).

Norweg. composer, conductor, and pianist. (Great‐grandfather was Scotsman named Greig.) Early tuition from mother, who was gifted pianist. On advice of violinist Ole Bull, went to study at Leipzig Cons., working so hard that his health was permanently impaired. Settled in Copenhagen, being encouraged (but not taught) by Gade. In 1865–6 visited Rome where he comp. his concert ov. In Autumn which later won Stockholm Acad. of Mus. prize. Married his cousin, the sop. Nina Hagerup, in 1867, she being the inspiration and interpreter of many of his songs. Settling in Christiania (Oslo), became teacher and cond. His comps. earned admiration of Liszt, whom he met in Rome 1870 where Liszt played Grieg's pf. conc. from MS at sight. In 1874 Grieg received life annuity from Norweg. Govt. and was asked by Ibsen to write incidental mus. to Peer Gynt. This had its f.p. in 1876 and made Grieg a nat. figure. He was a great favourite in Eng., where he and his wife gave recitals. He received Hon. D Mus. Cambridge 1894 and Oxford 1906. Befriended Delius and Percy Grainger. Grieg's mus. eschews the larger forms of opera and sym. (he wrote a sym. in 1864 but forbade perfs. after a few had been given, though this edict has been posthumously ignored) but within his chosen scale it is deeply poetic, superbly fashioned, and, in the songs especially, emotionally passionate. His nationalist idiom transcends local boundaries by reason of the strong individuality of his work. Comps. incl.:

incidental music:

Sigurd Jorsalfar

(Bjørnson), Op.22 (1872);

Peer Gynt

(Ibsen), Op.23 (1874–5, rev. 1885, 1891–2).


In Autumn

, concert ov., Op.11 (1866);

Peer Gynt

, suite No.1 from incid. mus., Op.46 (1874–5, rev. 1885, 1891–2), suite No.2, Op.55 (1874–5, rev. 1891 and 1892); 3 pieces from incid. mus. for Sigurd Jorsalfar , Op.56 (1872, rev. 1892);

Lyric Suite

(orch. of 4 items from Op.54 for pf.) (1904); pf. conc., Op.16 (1868, orch. 1906–7);

2 Elegiac Melodies

(Heart's Wounds and Last Spring), Op.34 (version for str. of 2 songs from Op.33);

Holberg Suite

, str., Op.40 (1884) (also for pf.);

2 Melodies

, str., Op.53 (1891);

2 Norwegian Melodies

, str., (1869), orch. (1895), Op.63;

4 Symphonic Dances

, Op.64 (orch. of work for pf., 4 hands) (1896–7); Sym. (1863–4, withdrawn by composer but perf. Oslo 1980 and recorded).

chorus and orch.:

Before the Cloister Gate

, soloists, women's ch., Op.20 (1871);

Olaf Trygvason

, soloists, ch., Op.50 (1873, rev. 1889).

voice and orch.:


, reciter, orch., Op.42 (1871, orch. 1885);

The Mountain Thrall

, bar., 2 hn., str., Op.32 (1877–8);

6 Songs

, v., orch. (incl. ‘Solvejg's Song’ from Peer Gynt) (1870–80, orch. 1891–4).

chamber music:

Vn. Sonata, No.1 in F, Op.8 (1865), No.2 in G, Op.13 (1867), No.3 in C minor, Op.45 (1886–7); Str. Qt. in G minor, Op.27 (1877–8); vc. sonata in A minor, Op.36 (1883).


4 Pieces

, Op.1 (1861);

4 Humoresques

, Op.6 (1865); sonata in E minor, Op.7 (1865);


Subjects: Music

Reference entries