Of Scottish descent on his father’s side, Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen and studied for four years at the Leipzig Conservatoire, where he was influenced by German Romanticism. But it was during later studies in Copenhagen that the importance of Norwegian folk music became apparent to him, and this realisation found early expression during the 1860s in the Humoresques and the first book of Lyric Pieces for piano.
Grieg settled in Oslo in 1866 and after his Piano Concerto (1868) returned less frequently to the larger Germanic forms, although his output includes a sonata for piano, three for violin and one for cello, as well as a string quartet which Debussy admired. His marriage in 1867 to his cousin Nina Hagerup inspired many of his 180 or so songs; he continued his series of Lyric Pieces (totalling around 60) and he wrote incidental music for the theatre (Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and Bjørnsen’s Sigurd Jorsalfar).
His most characterised music matches the idiom of Norwegian folk music with an almost impressionistic gift for sound-painting.
Profile © Edward Bhesania