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Famous Like Me > Composer > G > Edvard Grieg

Profile of Edvard Grieg on Famous Like Me

Name: Edvard Grieg  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 15th June 1843
Place of Birth: Bergen, Norway
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Edvard Hagerup Grieg (June 15, 1843–September 4, 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor, and for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt.

Edvard Grieg


Grieg was born in Bergen, and was of partial Scottish descent; the original family name was spelt "Greig". After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, his great-grandfather immigrated to various places, settling in Norway around 1770 as a businessman in Bergen. Edvard was brought up in a musical home. His mother, Gesine, became his first piano teacher.

In the summer of 1858, Grieg met the legendary Norwegian violinist Ole Bull, who was a friend of the family and Gesine's brother-in-law. Bull noticed the 15-year-old boy's talent and persuaded his parents to send him to further develop his talents at the Leipzig Conservatory.

Grieg enrolled in the conservatory with a concentration in piano later in 1858, and he soon found reward in the numerous concerts and recitals given in Leipzig. He rather disliked the discipline of the conservatory course of study, yet he still achieved very good grades in most areas, the exception being organ, which was then mandatory for piano students. In the spring of 1860, he caught a life-threatening lung disease. The year after, he made his debut as a concert pianist, in Karlshamn, Sweden. The next year he finished his studies in Leipzig, and held his first concert in his hometown of Bergen where he performed some technically advanced works, including Beethoven's Pathétique.

In 1863, Grieg went to Copenhagen, Denmark, and stayed there for three years. He met the Danish composers J. P. E. Hartman and Niels Gade. He also met his fellow Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak (composer of the Norwegian national anthem) who became a very dear friend and source of great inspiration for Grieg. Nordraak died shortly after, and Grieg composed a funeral march in his honor. Grieg had close ties with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Harmonien) and was Music Director of the orchestra from 1880-1882.

He also met Franz Liszt on two occasions in Copenhagen. The second time, Grieg brought with him the sketches of his piano concerto and presented them to Liszt. Liszt then transcribed the orchestral score and the piano voice for the one piano he was playing, in realtime (which is a tremendous musical, and technical, challenge). He subsequently gave it very good critics, which was a very important incident in Grieg's career. Liszt also wrote a testimonial to the Norwegian stipend managers, which led to Grieg's future scholarship.

On June 11, 1867, Grieg married his first cousin, Nina Hagerup, whom he had also met in Copenhagen. Marriages between cousins were quite common at that time. The next year, their daughter and only child, Alexandra, was born. The following summer, Grieg wrote his famous piano concerto while on vacation in Denmark. Edmund Neupert gave the concerto its premiere performance in Copenhagen. Grieg himself couldn't be there due to commitments conducting in Christiania (Oslo).

In the summer of 1869, Alexandra caught ill and died when 13 months old. Edvard and Nina went to Rome and were invited to meet the enthusiastic Franz Liszt, who expressed his appreciation for Grieg's piano concerto, and even sight read it.

Edvard Grieg died in the autumn of 1907, after a long period of illness. The funeral drew thousands out on the streets of his hometown to honor the artist. He was 64. His and his wife's ashes are entombed in a mountain tomb near his house, Troldhaugen.


Grieg is noted as a nationalist composer, drawing inspiration from Norwegian folk music. Early works include a symphony and a piano sonata. He also wrote three sonatas for violin and piano, and his many short pieces for piano — often built on Norwegian folk tunes and dances — led some to call him the Chopin of the north.

Among Grieg's best-known pieces are his piano concerto in A minor, the Holberg Suite (for string orchestra), and ten volumes of Lyric Pieces (for piano). He is also well known for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt, especially for Morning Mood and In the Hall of the Mountain King.

Grieg's music in popular culture

Morning Mood was a favorite of Carl Stalling who often used it for morning establishing shots in Warner Bros. cartoons. In the Hall of the Mountain King was famously used in the 1931 film M, in which Peter Lorre's character, a serial killer who preys on children, whistles it. The piece has also seen extensive use in movies and commercials, usually in accordance with a dramatic and fantastic event. The first movement of Grieg's piano concerto is used in Adrian Lyne's 1997 film Lolita. Another piece from the Peer Gynt Suites, Anitra's Dance, serves as background music for the fourth game in the Quest for Glory series.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Edvard Grieg