Grieg, Edvard Hagerup


"The most familiarly known and affectionately regarded of living composers," wrote Lawrence Oilman of Grieg. Four months later this composer was no more, and all musiclovers felt an almost personal loss in the death of the gifted man who was recognized everywhere as the chief exponent of Norway's national spirit in music. His great grandfather was a Scotchman, Greig by name, who settled at Bergen, Norway, and in a generation or two the spelling of his name had changed to suit the adopted nationality. Edvard Grieg was born at Bergen in 1843. His father was the British consul there; his mother, formerly Gesine Hagerup, came of a prominent Norwegian family, and was an accomplished pianist. From the age of six Edvard received piano lessons from her and attempted composition at nine in the form of variations on a German melody. A journey with his father at the age of fifteen through the beautiful scenery of his native land made such an impression on him that he desired to become a painter; but by the advice of Ole Bull, then visiting Bergen, to whom Edvard's mother showed some of the boy's work, he received instead the education which was to make him a master of painting in tones. In 1858 he entered the Conservatory at Leipsic, where he was placed under the instruction of Moscheles and Wenzel in piano, Richter and Moritz Hauptmann in harmony, and Rietz and Reinecke in composition. The restrictions of Moscheles, who had no admiration for Chopin, Schumann or the Romantic school of music in general, were chafing to the young enthusiast, who was in thorough sympathy with the objects of this master's dislike. However, in spite of discouragement he worked on, graduating in 1862 and winning a moderate commendation for some small compositions performed during the school's closing exercises. The next year Grieg went to Copenhagen, attracted chiefly by his admiration for Gade, then living in that city, which was at that time the musical center of Scandinavia. Here he soon met Gade, who was an exponent of the school of Mendelssohn, and later Hartmann, and was influenced by them to some extent, though, contrary to the usual statement, he never became a pupil of the former. An intimate friendship sprang up between Grieg and Rikard Nordraak, a rising young composer, who infused into his comrade an enthusiasm for the formation of a new Scandinavian school of music, and brought him to a clearer understanding of his own ability. Nordraakdied in 1866, before he had had time to make his own mark, and his mantle fell upon Grieg. In 1866 Grieg removed to Christiania, where in 1867 he married his cousin, Nina Hagerup, to whom he had been engaged some three years, and the same year founded a choral society, which he conducted alone until about 1874.