Edvard Grieg

June 2021

Edvard Grieg

The composer for this month is very special to me. Edvard Grieg's music has deeply influenced my piano playing and my composing.

Part 1

Edvard Grieg is the most famous Norwegian composer of all time, and the music that he created is all around us, even if you don't know who he is!

I bet that you know this song! Where have you heard this piece before? In a scary movie? During Halloween? In a TV commercial?

This music is performed here by our very own Seattle Symphony, and it is supposed to sound like scary trolls that live underground. What makes this music sound so creepy?

Part 2

Here's another incredibly famous song that Edvard Grieg composed. Where have you heard this music before?

This music is supposed to sound like a beautiful sunrise over the Sahara Desert in Africa. What makes it sound so peaceful and beautiful? How is this music different than the creepy music we heard for "In the Hall of the Mountain King"?

This video version of "Morning Mood" features pictures of Grieg's hometown, Bergen, Norway. He was born there in 1843. Did you know that your teacher Steven speaks Norwegian and studied for a bit at the University of Bergen?

Part 3

One other piece by Grieg that is performed frequently is his Piano Concerto in A minor. This piano concerto is a favorite piece for audiences and performers alike!

Do you remember what a concerto is? A concerto is usually a piece of music for a full orchestra and a featured soloist. A concerto is a chance for the solo performer to "show off" all the impressive music that they are able to perform!

This video features the first 2.5 minutes of this piece. (The full concerto lasts for about 30 minutes.) Listen for the back-and-forth between the piano and the orchestra. Does it sound like they are having a conversation in music?

Part 4

If you ever get the chance to visit Bergen, you can visit the house that Grieg built and see his "Composing Hut" (a small shed by the edge of a fjord where he went to compose). His house is called "Troldhaugen" (that means "Hill of the Trolls" in Norwegian), and it is now a museum.

This video features a beautiful performance of his piano piece "To Spring" and shows you the place where Grieg wrote much of his music!

Part 5

In addition to music for orchestras and for solo piano, Grieg wrote many songs for voice and piano in Norwegian. Performing with singers is one of my favorite things to do as a pianist, as the human voice and language gives the music even more depth and meaning. It is a lot of fun to create music with 1 or 2 of your friends!

Grieg wrote over 180 songs, and most of them he performed with his wife Nina, who was a singer! I'm lucky enough to have a very good friend who speaks Norwegian and is a singer, so I've been able to perform many of Grieg's songs right here in Seattle!

This video is a livestream concert that I did with my friend Laura over a year ago (back even before we knew that we would be wearing masks soon!). The video should start at 9'35" with a song by Grieg called "Tytebæret" (that means "Lingonberry" in Norwegian!). If you want to listen to the whole concert, you'll hear more songs by Grieg and you'll also hear 4 songs that I composed (using Norwegian texts)!

Part 6

Edvard Grieg loved his homeland of Norway, and he loved the folk music traditions of his people. One of the most famous folk music instruments in Norway is a special violin called the Hardanger Fiddle. Grieg loved the instrument so much that he decided to make his own piano versions of folk songs that are traditionally played on the fiddle. Can you imagine a violin playing some of these same notes?

Thanks for learning a little about Grieg!

If you liked the music you heard, I encourage you to listen to more music by this great Norwegian composer!