December 12, 2014
Edvard Grieg Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born on June 15th, 1843 and died on September 4th, 1907 in Bergen, Norway. He was a composer and a pianist who composed in the romantic period. He began composing at the age of twelve. His ancestors were Scottish and he was raised in a musical home. Grieg grew up in a well-to do commerce family and had a brother and three sisters. Gesine, his mother, was his first piano teacher. He sometimes brought examples of his music to class while he studied in several schools, including Tank’s School. He could sit by the piano for hours and explore all kinds of sounds and harmonies on his own. Grieg preferred to discover music himself, instead of it being taught to him. He wanted to improvise and play around with music and find new tunes and melodies. He was given the nickname Mosak in school, because he had answered Mozart when the teacher asked which composer had composed a work called “Requiem.” The other students had never learned anything about Mozart and were surprised that Edvard could answer this question, despite the fact that he didn’t contribute much in class. Ole Bull, who was a family friend met Grieg in 1858 and noticed how much talent the fifteen year old had. He then persuaded Grieg’s parents to send him to further develop his talents at the Leipzig Conservatory. After being enrolled at the conservatory, Grieg concentrated on the piano and enjoyed many concerts and recitals given in Leipzig. While he achieved good grades in most areas, he did not do well with the organ, which was mandatory for piano students at the time. Edvard very much disliked the discipline of the conservatory course of study. Edvard Grieg was desperately unhappy at school. He suffered regularly from torment and abuse from other students. Brooke 2 On June 11th, 1857, Edvard married his first cousin, Nina Hagerup, who was a talented pianist and had great vocal abilities. Alexandra, his only child, was born the following year. Sadly, at the age of thirteen months, Alexandra became ill and died. The next summer, Grieg wrote his Piano Concerto in A minor in Denmark. The house that Grieg built, named Troldhaugen, is a popular tourist destination that features a secondary building that overlooks the water. Grieg used this as a work area. Grieg supported his family by teaching piano and conducting. Edmund Neupert gave the concerto its premiere on April 3rd, 1869 in the Casino Theater in Copenhagen. However, Grieg himself was unable to be there because he had made commitments to conduct in Christiania. Grieg and his wife were quite short; barely five feet tall. Percy Grainger; who was a fan of Edvard, described Grieg as a “mini-Viking.” Grieg and his wife Nina would walk along the streets of Bergen and children would follow him whistling his tunes as tribute to him. Grieg went through an artistic and personal crisis. In 1883, Grieg left his wife Nina, but eventually reconciled with her thanks to the help of his friend Frants Beyer. Beyer also convinced Grieg that he needed a proper home. He needed something to come home to after the long tours he went on. With that, Beyer helped Grieg buy a place at Hop; which is in the outskirts of his hometown. In 1885, Nina and Edvard moved into their villa. In 1862, Grieg developed a life-threatening lung disease called pleurisy, but survived, although it effected his health for the rest of his life because he only had one lung. He finished his studies and held his first concert in his home in Bergen. In his concert he included Ludwig van Beethoven’s Pathétique sonata. In 1863, he made his debut as a concert pianist in Sweden. Next, he went to Copenhagen, Denmark and stayed there for three years. There, he met Danish composers J.P.E. Hartmann and
Neils Gade. He also met Rikard Nordraak. Nordraak became a good friend for Grieg and a great source of inspiration.