Grieg, Edvard Hagerup

The composer's wife accompanied him on his concert trips, and gave with him a limited number of recitals of his songs in Christiania, Copenhagen, Rome, Leipsic and Paris, as well as in London; but she was not classed as a professional singer, and it would seem that Grieg himself did not realize that her talent was of such a high order till she had passed her prime. Although, had her appearances been more frequent, she could have made her husband's songs much more widely known; yet perhaps her most important contribution to music was that she inspired him to his best efforts, as it was for her that the finest of his songs were composed. Death came to Grieg unexpectedly. He was in Bergen, intending to sail for Christiania on the third of September, and had already had his baggage placed on board the steamer, when he was seized with sudden illness and taken to a hospital, where he passed away the following day. The world-wide esteem in which the composer was held was attested by many memorial concerts of his works which were given after his death in the United States as well as in Europe. As to Grieg's personal appearance, we quote the description taken from the diary of Tschaikowsky, written when the composer was about forty-five years of age: "A very short, middleaged man exceedingly fragile in appearance, with shoulders of unequal height, fair hair, brushed back from his forehead and a very straight, almost boyish beard and mustache. There was nothing very striking about the features ... it would be impossible to call them handsome or regular, but he had an uncommon charm, and blue eyes, not very large, but irresistibly fascinating, recalling the glance of a charming and candid child." Another writer has said: "Grieg's face is intelligent and very handsome, with long grayish hair, thrown back, smooth shaven chin, short, thick mustache, small, full nose, and eyes superb, green-gray, in which one can fancy one catches a glimpse of Norway with its melancholy fjords and its luminous mists. His gaze is serious, wonderfully soft, with a peculiar expression, at once worn, tentative and childishly naive. The entire effect is of kindness, gentleness, candor and' sincere modesty." Among Grieg's principal compositions are Autumn Overture; piano concerto; the melodrama, Bergliot; music to Sigurd Jorsalfar; the Peer Gynt music; the violin sonata, in F major, holding a position among the few great violin sonatas; the piano sonata; many lyric pieces, including To Spring, The Butterfly and the Erotik poern; and the characteristically Norwegian pieces, spring dances, March of the Dwarfs, Kobold, Evening in the Mountains, Norwegian dances and folk-songs, and peasants' dances. Other representative works of Grieg's are the Holberg suite for piano, which is also scored for orchestra; the Aus dem Folksleben, or Sketches of Norwegian Life, comprising On the Mountain, Norwegian Bridal Song, Carnival, and the well-known Bridal Procession; the cello sonata; and numerous songs, among which may be named The First Primrose; The Princess; The Odalisk, possessing a genuine Oriental character; The Youth; The Wounded Heart; The Minstrel's Song; Solvejg's Lied, a distinctly Norwegian work; By the Riverside; A Fair Vision; Springtide; On the Way Home; The Old Mother; Friendship; I Love Thee; The Mountain Maid; The Tryst; Love; An Evil Day; Cradle Song; and the Wood Wanderer. Grieg's numbered works are seventy-four in all; twenty of these are made up of numerous lyric pieces, romanzas, ballades, tonepictures, album-leaves, humoresques, etc., for piano, exclusive of the sonata and the concerto already mentioned, the many transcriptions of Norwegian melodies, of Grieg's own songs and others, and the four-hand arrangements of orchestral music and other duets. There is also a romance and variations for two pianos. The songs comprise nineteen works, besides a song cycle, Haugtussa, choruses for mixed and male voices, and three single songs, two of which, The Princess and The Odalisk, have been named, the third, an Ave in B flat. Four of the songs are set to words by Hans Christian Andersen, and one set consists of seven children's songs. There is a cantata, At the Convent Door; a string quartet, and several melodies and dances for string orchestra; beside some Norwegian dances for orchestra; the funeral march and others already mentioned. An album leaf in E minor for piano, a second piano part to four of Mozart's  sonatas, and some of the song transcriptions for piano, are without numbers.