Clavier Companion - May/June 2017 - 76
Keyboard Kids' Companion
Created by Teachers & Approved by Kids
Helen Smith Tarchalski, Editor
Romantic Period Composer
Born: Bergen, Norway 1843
Died: Bergen, Norway 1907
Famous works: Listen on claviercompanion.com
Concerto in a minor
Peer Gynt Suite
Lyric Pieces for Piano
dvard Hagerup Grieg
was born into a wealthy
family in Norway on
June 15, 1843. He had a brother
and three sisters. He started piano
lessons at the age of six with his
mother, and he began composing
at age nine.
Edvard did not like school. He
worked out a trick to miss classes.
Walking more than two miles to
school meant often walking in his
town's frequent rains. But he didn't
try to stay dry. He tried to get as
wet as possible by standing under
a rain spout! When he entered the
classroom dripping wet, he was
sent home to change clothes. One
day when it had hardly rained at all,
he showed up soaking wet. He was
caught! After a spanking, he didn't
try that trick again.
Edvard's aunt married a famous
violinist named Ole Bull. Bull later recommended him
to the best music conservatory in Europe, the Leipzig
Conservatory, when Edvard was fifteen.
He had a happy marriage with his wife, Nina, but their
only child, Alexandra, died when she was just thirteen
months old. His wife was an excellent pianist and had
a beautiful singing voice. Edvard was very happy to
hear her sing the songs he composed. They traveled
to many cities in Europe to play concerts. Sometimes
they performed together. Even though he was invited
many times, he never traveled to America because he
was afraid of seasickness.
Grieg worked as a pianist, conductor, composer,
and music critic. His music was very popular during
his lifetime. He was welcome wherever he went,
and he met many famous people. Grieg was one of
Queen Victoria of England's favorites, and he played
for her at Windsor Castle. Grieg was friends with famous composers
Percy Grainger, Johannes Brahms, and Franz Liszt. Liszt gave Grieg
lots of encouragement for his work. Liszt also wrote a letter to the
Norwegian government recommending that they pay Grieg for his
work, and the government began paying him an annual income.
During most of Grieg's lifetime, Norway struggled for independence;
the country was a subject of Sweden until two years before Grieg
died. Grieg composed using folk melodies from Norwegian songs
and dances. He is credited with helping the Norwegian people feel
they had their own identity. He often composed keeping in mind
the beautiful forests, mountains, streams, and fjords of Norway.
Many referred to him as the "Chopin of the North" because of his
piano style and beautiful melodies. Grieg's music has been used in
advertisements, movies, television programs, rock songs, and even
Grieg loved nature, eating oysters, and walking in the mountains.
He loved animals. He always went to the zoos in cities he visited, and
he had lots of pet birds in his home. Some of his compositions, such
as his "Nocturne" for piano and "Morning Mood" from Peer Gynt,
have sounds like bird calls.
Edvard and his wife built a home near
Bergen, and called it "Troldhaugen" (Small
Troll Hill). He wrote many of his famous
compositions in a small hut he built on the
Edvard Grieg died September 4, 1907.
The boats in Bergen harbor flew flags
at half-mast on the day of his funeral.
At noon, all the church bells rang. More
than 30,000 people lined the streets to
watch the funeral procession. His wife
Nina walked behind, and as they left the
funeral service, a band played Chopin's
Funeral March for Edvard Grieg, known as the "Chopin of the
North." Mr. and Mrs. Grieg were buried in the mountainside near
History from 1843, the year
Edvard Grieg was born
Charles Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol
Francis Scott Key (author of "The Star Spangled
Felix Mendelssohn founds the Leipzig
Conservatory, where Grieg later attends
Skiing for sport begins in Norway