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Edvard Grieg
Pronunciation: [ed´vär hä´gurOOp grEg]
1843–1907, Norwegian composer.


Grieg developed a strongly nationalistic style which made him known as “the Voice of Norway.” He received piano lessons from his mother and later studied at the Leipzig Conservatory. Influenced by N. V. Gade, Grieg at first wrote in the idiom of German romanticism, but after 1864, when the composer Richard Nordraak (1842–65) introduced him to Norwegian folk music, he turned to the heritage of his own country. In 1867 he founded the Norwegian Academy of Music. For his original and characteristically lyrical songs, he used texts by Norwegian poets, and he made settings of Norwegian folk songs that he had collected. His wife, the singer Nina Hagerup Grieg, was an outstanding interpreter of his songs. He continued, however, to write songs with German texts in the style of Mendelssohn and Schumann, a style that also permeates his piano pieces. In 1869, Grieg established his fame as a leading composer with his Concerto in A Minor for piano and orchestra, appearing himself as the solo pianist in its first performance. His subsequent compositions, generally confined to short lyric forms, include the cantata Olav Trygvason (1873) and the suite of incidental dramatic music, Peer Gynt (1876). Grieg's impressionistic harmonies, and his use of short melodic phrases, influenced later composers such as Debussy, Tchaikovsky, MacDowell, and Sibelius.

Bibliography:

See Finn Benestad and Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe, Edvard Grieg (tr. by W. H. Halverson and L. B. Sateren, 1988).


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