"What We're Listening To:" Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King."
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was a Norweigan composer and pianist who is considered one of the leading composers of the Romantic era. He is also known for having made the music of Norway internationally famous by incorporating Norwegian folk music into his own compositions.
Grieg was born into a musical family in Bergen, Norway. His mother taught him to play the piano at the age of six and he was accepted into the Leipzig conservatory at age 15. In 1861 he made his debut as a pianist in Karlshamn, Sweden and in 1862 he held his first concert in his hometown of Bergen.
In 1863 Grieg moved to Copenhagen, Denmark where he met the composer of the Norwegian national anthem, Rikard Nordraak, who became a source of inspiration for him.
Grieg suffered from long periods of illness in his life after surviving both pleurisy and tuberculosis. He died of heart failure at age 64 in the hospital of his hometown, Bergen.
One of Grieg’s most notable works,“In The Hall of the Mountain King,” was written as incidental music for Henrik Ibsen’s play, Peer Gynt. In the scene accompanying the music, anti-hero Peer Gynt steals a bride from her wedding and as the angry mob chases after him he falls and hits his head. When he awakens he is in a mountain surrounded by trolls. The theme to the music gets louder and louder as the angry trolls run after him taunting him until he finally escapes.
Below is a performance of Greig’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Jacek Kaspszyk.