Sunday, October 18, 2009

Music Monday - Halloween Music No. 5

The son of a merchant and a piano teacher, Edvard Grieg was born in Norway on June 15, 1843. While his earliest extant composition was written when he was about fifteen years old, he wasn't published as a composer until 1863. He lived in Denmark for much of his adult life, yet remained loyal to Norwegian music, using traditional folk music from that country as a basis for his compositional style, though his music seldom contains actual folk tunes. The first Scandinavian composer to win world renown, Grieg composed twelve works for orchestra, including two suites of selections from incidental music he had written for Peer Gynt, a play by Ibsen (1875). He also wrote some chamber music (some violin sonatas, a cello sonata, and a string quartet), more than one hundred art songs, and about seventy short works for piano.

One of those short works for piano is perfect for Halloween. The mischievous-sounding "March of the Trolls," from Lyric Pieces, Book 5, Op. 54, is played here by Leif Ove Andsnes. The CD also contains Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor.

Another spooky selection from this composer is "In the Hall of the Mountain King," from Peer Gynt. In Ibsen's play, Peer Gynt falls in love with the daughter of the King of Trolls, and travels to the king's royal hall in the mountain. An unhappy band of trolls greets Peer, and a frenzied dance ensues, calling for the death of the hero. The story has a temporarily happy ending, though, as Peer agrees to become an honorary troll in order to win his love. This selection from Peer Gynt Suite No.1 (which also contains the well-known "Morning") is played by The Berlin Philharmonic on a CD that also contains Peer Gynt Suite No. 2 and the Holberg Suite, Op. 4 (subtitled, "Suite in the Olden Style," and it's a favorite of mine), as well as some selections from Sibelius, Grieg's fellow Scandinavian.

Edvard Grieg is the featured composer on this month's Classics for Kids.

My other Halloween Music posts (Nos. 1-4 from 2008) can be found here.


Michelle said...

Thanks so much for this post; we're getting ready to study Grieg and this info is really helpful. :)

Tabatha said...

Very nice! Thanks for this info. I will check out your older Halloween posts, too.

Fiddler said...

Michelle and Tabatha, thanks for stopping by! I haven't been keeping up with comments as well as I'd like to be. Michelle, hope you had fun with Grieg--he's one of my favorites.