Edvard Grieg

One of the leading Romantic era composers, Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1843.

Grieg's use and development of Norwegian folk music in his own compositions put the music of Norway on the map, as well as helping to develop a national identity, much as Jean Sibelius and Antoní­n DvoÅ™ák did in Finland and Bohemia, respectively. He is regarded as simultaneously nationalistic and cosmopolitan in his orientation, for although born in Bergen and even buried there, he traveled widely throughout Europe, and considered his music to express both the beauty of Norwegian rural life and the culture of Europe as a whole.

Some of Grieg's early works include a symphony (which he later suppressed) and a piano sonata. He also wrote three violin sonatas and a cello sonata. Grieg also composed the incidental music for Henrik Ibsen's play, Peer Gynt - which includes the famous excerpt entitled, "In the Hall of the Mountain King". In this piece of music, the adventures of the anti-hero, Peer Gynt, are related, including the episode in which he steals a bride at her wedding. The angry guests chase him, and Peer falls, hitting his head on a rock. He wakes up in a mountain surrounded by trolls. The music of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" represents the angry trolls taunting Peer and gets louder each time the theme repeats. The music ends with Peer escaping from the mountain.

Grieg's Holberg Suite was originally written for the piano, and later arranged by the composer for string orchestra. Grieg wrote songs in which he set lyrics by poets Heinrich Heine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Henrik Ibsen, Hans Christian Andersen, Rudyard Kiplingand others. Norwegian pianist Eva Knardahl recorded the composer's complete piano music during 1978 and 1980. The recordings were reissued in 2006 on 12 compact discs by BIS Records. Grieg himself recorded many of these piano works before his death in 1907.

Grieg's String Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 27, is the second of three string quartets he wrote. The first, in D minor, was an early work, now lost, written in the early 1860s at the request of his teacher, Carl Reinecke. The third quartet, in F major, remained incomplete at the composer's death. Grieg wrote that the G minor Quartet "strives towards breadth, soaring flight and above all resonance for the instruments for which it is written."