Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

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0120071029

Donald Macleod explores the music heard at the first of two poignant memorial concerts held in London following Grieg's death a century ago, and looks at how Britain reflected on the loss of one of its most loved foreign composers.

Funeral March in Memory of Rikard Nordraak (orch.

Johan Halvorsen)

London Symphony Orchestra

Per Dreier (conductor)

In Autumn (I Host), Op 11

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Sakari Oramo (conductor)

Henrik Wergeland, Op 58, No 3

Hakan Hagegard (baritone)

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Jarvi (conductor)

Old Norwegian Melody with Variations, Op 51

Neeme Jarvi

Solveig's sang (Peer Gynt)

Barbara Bonney (soprano)

01Beginnings20120521

Donald Macleod introduces a group of works written early in Grieg's career.

During his lifetime, this multi-talented Norwegian composer, pianist and conductor, was a hugely popular figure throughout 19th century Europe, and today is regarded as the foremost Scandinavian composer of his generation. Probably best known for the piano concerto and Peer Gynt Suites, Edvard Grieg was also a prolific writer of songs and piano miniatures. Everything he wrote was coloured to some degree by the distinctive folk melodies of his homeland which proved to be both a blessing and a curse as he strove for acceptance in the concert halls of Europe.

Donald Macleod introduces a group of works written early in Grieg's career including his only piano sonata, the concert overture based on his own song Autumn Storm, and the moving musical memorial to his friend Rikard Nordraak which would be played at Grieg's own funeral some 40 years later.

01Grieg's Lost Symphony20140512

01Grieg's Lost Symphony20140512

Donald Macleod introduces arrangements of Grieg's music and his 'forbidden' symphony.

01Grieg's Lost Symphony20140512

01Grieg's Lost Symphony20140512

Donald Macleod introduces the vast array of arrangements of Grieg's music; plus, the story of Grieg's 'forbidden' symphony of 1864.

Grieg's gift for the fleeting, artful and utterly delightful musical miniature means that he's one of the most rearranged and reimagined composers in history. Instrumentalists of every shade down the years - from trombonists to accordionists, brass bands to hard rock collectives - have sought to cast Grieg's music in their own image. This week, Donald Macleod dips his toe into the vast array of arrangements of Edvard Grieg's music - introducing a selection of brilliant, often unorthodox musical creations - whilst taking us through five key works spanning the composer's career.

The week begins with perhaps the most 'un-Griegian' of musical creations. It comes as a shock to many music-lovers to discover that the young Grieg composed a symphony: one he later marked 'never to be performed'. Donald Macleod explores the story behind this 'forbidden' symphony and why it never came to be heard.

01Grieg's Lost Symphony20140512

Donald Macleod introduces arrangements of Grieg's music and his 'forbidden' symphony.

Donald Macleod introduces the vast array of arrangements of Grieg's music; plus, the story of Grieg's 'forbidden' symphony of 1864.

Grieg's gift for the fleeting, artful and utterly delightful musical miniature means that he's one of the most rearranged and reimagined composers in history. Instrumentalists of every shade down the years - from trombonists to accordionists, brass bands to hard rock collectives - have sought to cast Grieg's music in their own image. This week, Donald Macleod dips his toe into the vast array of arrangements of Edvard Grieg's music - introducing a selection of brilliant, often unorthodox musical creations - whilst taking us through five key works spanning the composer's career.

The week begins with perhaps the most 'un-Griegian' of musical creations. It comes as a shock to many music-lovers to discover that the young Grieg composed a symphony: one he later marked 'never to be performed'. Donald Macleod explores the story behind this 'forbidden' symphony and why it never came to be heard.

0220071030

The second of two memorial concerts held in London following Grieg's death in 1907 was a chamber music event.

Donald Macleod investigates the music and artists who performed and also considers the Scottish ancestry to be found in the Norwegian composer's family tree.

Finale (String Quartet in G minor, Op 27)

Oslo String Quartet

The Time of Roses (Zur Rosenzeit), Op 48, No 5

Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano)

Bengt Forsberg (piano)

A Dream (Ein Traum), Op 48, No 6

Homesickness (Hjemve), Op 57, No 6

Leif Ove Andsens (piano)

From Monte Pincio (Fra Monte Pincio), Op 39, No 1

Monica Groop (mezzo-soprano)

Ilmo Ranta (piano)

At the Grave of a Young Wife (Ven en ung Hustrus Bare), Op 39, No 5

Sonata No 2 in G, Op 13

Augustin Dumay (violin)

Maria Joao Pires (piano)

02Fruitful Partnerships20120522

Donald Macleod introduces music Grieg wrote with Bjornstjerne Bjornson and Henrik Ibsen.

In the crucial period of the early 1870s when Grieg was working to establish himself in Oslo, it was the association he formed with the two most prominent Norwegian writers Henrik Ibsen and Bjornstjerne Björnson which probably did more for his standing there than anything else. Donald Macleod introduces two works he collaborated on with Björnson based on tales from the old Norse sagas, and the first of the concert suites Grieg famously made from the incidental music written to accompany Ibsen's Peer Gynt.

02Reimagining A Warhorse20140513

Donald introduces three very different interpretations of Grieg's famous Piano Concerto.

Donald Macleod introduces three very different interpretations of Grieg's famous Piano Concerto, and explores its place in our collective musical consciousness.

Grieg's gift for the fleeting, artful and utterly delightful musical miniature means that he's one of the most rearranged and reimagined composers in history. Instrumentalists of every shade down the years - from trombonists to accordionists, brass bands to hard rock collectives - have sought to cast Grieg's music in their own image. This week, Donald Macleod dips his toe into the vast array of arrangements of Edvard Grieg's music - introducing a selection of brilliant, often unorthodox musical creations - whilst taking us through five key works spanning the composer's career.

Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor holds an almost mythical place in our collective musical consciousness - by far the most popular and beloved piano concerto with the general public, listeners of a certain age still chuckle at the memory of "Mr Andrew Preview"'s performance on the Morecambe and Wise show. Today, Donald Macleod explores three very different versions of this iconic work - from the jazz-lounge of Ray Conniff, to Grieg's own two-piano arrangement of the opening movement, to a spellbinding jazz reimagining by the young British composer Gwilym Simcock - before ending the programme with Svistoslav Richter's coruscating performance of the finale with the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra.

0320071031

Donald Macleod investigates what made the pervasive Norwegian identity in Grieg's music so attractive to audiences in Britain, from his landmark pieces to his later, more complex compositions.

Norwegian Dances, Op 35, No 1 (orch.

Sitt)

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Jarvi (conductor)

Humoresque, Op 6, No 3

Einar Steen-Nokleberg (piano)

Peer Gynt Suite No 1, Op 46

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Herbert von Karajan (conductor)

The Mountain Maid (Haugtussa), Op 67

Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano)

Bengt Forsberg (piano)

03Grieg's Double Bass Concerto20140514

Donald Macleod on a Grieg cello sonata arranged for double bass, plus the Holberg Suite.

Donald Macleod explores more unusual Grieg arrangements, including a double bass concerto - plus the composer's much-loved Holberg Suite, in its original piano version.

Grieg's gift for the fleeting, artful and utterly delightful musical miniature means that he's one of the most rearranged and reimagined composers in history. Instrumentalists of every shade down the years - from trombonists to accordionists, brass bands to hard rock collectives - have sought to cast Grieg's music in their own image. This week, Donald Macleod dips his toe into the vast array of arrangements of Edvard Grieg's music - introducing a selection of brilliant, often unorthodox musical creations - whilst taking us through five key works spanning the composer's career.

Unlike the 'secret' symphony heard in Monday's episode, Grieg most definitely did not ever conceive of a double bass concerto. However, that didn't deter the acclaimed double bassist Gary Karr, whose virtuoso reimagining of the composer's Cello Sonata we hear in today's programme. Donald Macleod also presents two rare choral works, as well as one of Grieg's best loved compositions in its unfamiliar original form: the Holberg Suite.

03Hardanger20120523

Donald Macleod presents music written by Grieg in the peaceful surroundings of Hardanger.

Feeling stifled by life in Oslo, in the summer of 1877 Grieg and his wife Nina escaped to the beautiful countryside of Hardanger in Western Norway, on what would be the first of many visits. Although it was a period of emotional upheaval and creative struggle for Grieg, it proved to be among the most fruitful of his career. Donald Macleod introduces a selection of works written there including his only completed string quartet, and a song for baritone, two horns and string orchestra, based on a folk tale whose doomed hero loses the power to know what love is.

0420071101

Donald Macleod explores some of the personal encounters with British people that helped to shape Grieg's life, from his long-standing friendship with composer Frederick Delius to a meeting in Birmingham with a church leader that precipitated a change in the Norwegian's spiritual outlook.

Symphonic Dances, Op 64 No 1

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Sakari Oramo (conductor)

Sonata No 3, Op 45 (1st mvt)

Fritz Kreisler (violin)

Sergei Rachmaninov (piano)

The Mountain Thrall (Den Bergekne), Op 32

Hakan Hagegard (baritone)

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Jarvi (conductor)

Four Psalms, Op 74

David Wilson-Johnson (baritone)

Polyphony

Stephen Layton (conductor)

Ave, Maris Stella

04Edvard And Nina20120524

Donald Macleod examines the relationship between Grieg and his wife Nina.

By the 1880s, the strain in Grieg's relationship with his wife Nina was beginning to tell. In recent years, Grieg had had a series of extra-marital affairs, and at the beginning of 1886 he nearly left Nina for a 26-year old painter. It can't have helped the stability of their relationship that Edvard and Nina spent much of their lives living out of suitcases, travelling and giving concerts throughout Europe. But for all their marital difficulties, the husband and wife team made the perfect musical partnership. Nina was both his inspiration and the ideal interpreter of his songs. Donald Macleod introduces Grieg's only song cycle - the folk-inspired Haugtussa, and the ever-popular suite for string orchestra dedicated to the 18th century dramatist Ludwig Holberg.

04Several Peers Gynt20140515

Donald Macleod introduces a series of contrasting musical takes on Peer Gynt.

Donald Macleod introduces a series of contrasting musical takes on Peer Gynt - from the lyrical to the industrial.

Grieg's gift for the fleeting, artful and utterly delightful musical miniature means that he's one of the most rearranged and reimagined composers in history. Instrumentalists of every shade down the years - from trombonists to accordionists, brass bands to hard rock collectives - have sought to cast Grieg's music in their own image. This week, Donald Macleod dips his toe into the vast array of arrangements of Edvard Grieg's music - introducing a selection of brilliant, often unorthodox musical creations - whilst taking us through five key works spanning the composer's career.

Amongst the myriad reworkings of Grieg's music, one piece stands out as offender-in-chief. Grieg's own reworking of his music to Ibsen's play "Peer Gynt" into two orchestral suites ensured his fame and fortune - and a multitude of arrangements, even in his own lifetime. But more than this, and faintly surreally, one famous number, "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" has more recently found a devoted following that Grieg could have never have imagined... amongst devotees of hard rock and heavy metal. Donald Macleod explores the circumstances of Peer Gynt's composition - as well as the bizarre array of arrangements that followed.

05 LAST20071102

Musical Britain was greatly excited about Grieg's London debut in 1888.

Albums of his piano pieces were already popular in homes across the country, and his arrival on stage here as a concert pianist was held up by the storm of applause that greeted him.

Donald Macleod looks at Grieg's reception in British concert halls and considers whether the composer was held in equally high esteem as a pianist.

Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, Op 65 No 6

Leif Ove Andsens (piano)

To Spring, Op 43 No 6

Edvard Grieg (piano)

Romancer, Op 15

Monica Groop (mezzo-soprano)

Ilmo Ranta (piano)

Piano Concerto, Op 16

Murray Perahia (piano)

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Colin Davis (conductor)

Remembrances, Op 71 No 7

05 LASTA Neglected Song Cycle20140516

Donald Macleod introduces Grieg's final vocal masterpiece: his song cycle Haugtussa.

Donald Macleod introduces a rare complete performance of Grieg's final vocal masterpiece - his song-cycle Haugtussa (The Mountain Maid).

Grieg's gift for the fleeting, artful and utterly delightful musical miniature means that he's one of the most rearranged and reimagined composers in history. Instrumentalists of every shade down the years - from trombonists to accordionists, brass bands to hard rock collectives - have sought to cast Grieg's music in their own image. This week, Donald Macleod dips his toe into the vast array of arrangements of Edvard Grieg's music - introducing a selection of brilliant, often unorthodox musical creations - whilst taking us through five key works spanning the composer's career.

Although Grieg's solo songs are much beloved by performers, his only song cycle, the late masterpiece Haugtussa (The Mountain Maid) is rarely performed; in the final episode of this week's series, we hear it performed by the mezzo-soprano, Anne-Sofie von Otter. There's also a final dip into the plethora of arrangements of Grieg's music - including a two-piano version of his stirring "Homage March" - plus a rare outing for his very final work, the Four Psalms for baritone and chorus.

05 LASTTwilight Years20120525

Donald Macleod introduces Grieg's best known work: his piano concerto.

Much of Grieg's life was spent away from home, touring and giving concerts across Europe. He was known both as a fine pianist and charismatic conductor and, naturally, performed his own works at every opportunity. Donald Macleod introduces Grieg's piano concerto, written towards the beginning of his career and, in spite of the fact that Grieg himself was never entirely satisfied with it, proved to be the perfect showpiece and useful money-spinner throughout his life and continues to be one of the most popular concertos of all time.