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Musician of the Month: Edvard Greig

Edvard Grieg (June 15, 1843 – September 4, 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He was amongst a number of Romantic nationalist composers who found their musical identity through the use and development of their country’s folk music. 

Grieg started piano lessons at the age of six with his mother as his piano teacher. At age 15 he enrolled in the Leipzig Conservatory and then in 1861 made his debut as a concert pianist in Sweden. A year later, at the conclusion of his conservatory studies he held his first concert in his hometown in Norway where his program included Beethoven's Pathétique sonata.


In the summer of 1868, Grieg wrote his Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 while on holiday in Denmark. It is the only concerto Grieg completed in his life and is it amongst the most popular of all the piano concerti in the repertoire.


In 1874 –1876, Grieg composed incidental music for the premiere of Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt. Grieg composed a ninety-minute score and then extracted two suites of four pieces each from the incidental music (Opus 46 and Opus 55=), which became very popular as concert music. Included in the Peer Gynt incidental music is perhaps Greig’s most famous single piece of music, In the Hall of the Mountain King.


Towards the end Greig’s life in 1903, he incredibly made nine 78-rpm gramophone recordings in Paris of himself playing a selection of his own piano works.


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