Edvard Grieg. Well-known today as one of Norway's great composers, Edvard
Grieg was born in the city of Bergen on June 15, 1843. Grieg grew up in a
musical home. While his father was a merchant and the American vice consul, his
mother was a music teacher and gave Grieg his first piano lessons at the age of
six. In 1858, at the age of fifteen, Grieg was introduced to the Norwegian
violinist, and also his uncle by marriage, Ole Bull. Bull was impressed by young
Grieg's musical talents and successfully persuaded his parents to send him to
study at the Leipzig Conservatory.
Grieg's studies at the Leipzig Conservatory were focused on
piano. In 1861, he made his debut as a concert pianist. The following year,
having completed his studies at the Conservatory, he staged a concert in his
home town of Bergen with a programme that included Beethoven's Pathétique Sonata. His return to Bergen
in 1862, however, was brief. The next year he began a three-year stay in
Copenhagen, Denmark. While residing in the Danish capital, Grieg met two of
Denmark's leading composers: J. P. E. Hartmann and Niels Gade.
During the summer of 1868, Grieg penned his famous Piano
Concerto in A minor. Its premiered occurred in April of the following year in
Copenhagen. The piece has remained one of his most well-known compositions.
Also during 1868, through the influence of Franz Lizst, Grieg received a travel
grant from Norwegian Ministry of Education. Grieg traveled to Rome in 1870 and
was introduced to Liszt. Liszt reviewed some of Grieg's composition and offered
Another of Grieg's well-known compositions came later during
the years 1874-76. At the request of the author Henrik Ibsen, he composed
incidental music for the premiere of Ibsen's play Peer Gynt. Several of the pieces from Peer Gynt remain popular today, particularly in their piano
arrangements. Grieg, however, found the work difficult to compose and even
expressed dissatisfaction with the work's most popular number—In the Hall of the Mountain King.
In 1903, Grieg traveled to Paris to make nine 78-rpm
gramophone recordings of his piano music. Fortunately, these recordings have
survived and are evidence to Grieg's proficiency on the piano. In 1907, at the
age of 64, Grieg passed away after a long period of illness.
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