Some of Edvard Grieg’s music is so recognizable, yet few people who can hum Morning Mood or In the Hall of the Mountain King know anything more than the tune. There is much more of Grieg’s music than Peer Gynt and his piano concerto. His vast library of music composed over his lifetime deserves to be experienced live and shared broadly. (Complete list) Even within classical music circles in the US, Grieg’s music is underrepresented in the canon of performances, despite the fact that the quality of music is on par with composers such as Schumann, Sibelius, Nielsen, Liszt, Brahms and many others.
During his life, Edvard Grieg acted as an ambassador for Norwegian music to the rest of the western world, bringing the Norwegian sound beyond folk music and into the mainstream of art music to mainland Europe. The Norwegian National Romantic style of Grieg can be compared to Bartok’s Hungarian and Dvořák’s Czech National Romanticism. By promoting performances of his music, we are continuing his ambassadorship to the world, bringing cultures and music together that connect us all – a connection that we need more than ever.
A musical miniaturist, Grieg composed more than 180 songs for voice and piano, interpreted first and best by his muse and wife, Nina Hagerup-Grieg.
“I don’t think I have any greater talent for writing songs than for writing any other kind of music. Why, then, have songs played such a prominent role in my oeuvre? Quite simply because I, like other mortals, once in my life (to quote Goethe) had a moment of genius. And it was love that gave me this glory. I loved a girl with a wonderful voice and an equally wonderful gift as an interpreter. This woman became my wife and has been my companion through life down to the present day. I dare say that for me she has remained the only true interpreter of my songs. … For me it was only natural that she should sing so beautifully, so tellingly – from a full heart and from the innermost depths of the soul. … In her singing she did exactly what I have striven for in my creative work: above all to interpret the poem.”
One of the major challenges in performing his songs in this country is the language barrier. Norwegian is not one of the main operatic languages taught in colleges and conservatories in the US, so most singing students are not exposed to this music in a way that allows them to interpret the poem in performance as Grieg would have liked. The NWEGS has the knowledge and resources to help bridge that language gap and provide the expertise to communicate the poem through Grieg’s music as well as guide singers, young and experienced alike, with the Norwegian language and cultural aspects integral in the complete performance of his songs.
Grieg was one of the greatest supporters of his colleagues, both contemporary and younger generations. He often wrote letters in support of fellow Norwegian composers, enthusiastically offered advice as well as helped create opportunities for younger composers and performers and collaborated on performances of his music with colleagues. The NWEGS would like to help continue this work by supporting and encouraging young performers, composers and researchers in the Northwest.
With Grieg’s actions throughout his life as our guide, we hope to open up the world of his music to Northwest audiences, but also to musicians, both amateur and professional; to light the spark of curiosity about Grieg and musical treasure trove he left us.
The international community has 16 separate societies, including five others in the US, dedicated to promoting the life and music of Edvard Grieg. Until now there wasn’t one in the northwest part of the US. We are excited to help share Grieg’s music with audiences throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. So much of Grieg’s music evokes and emanates from the Norwegian nature and surroundings. In states with so much natural beauty and with their own strong connection to the nature around us, Grieg’s music will connect with audiences even beyond the musical experience.
If you are located in one of these four states and would like us to help present a performance of Edvard Grieg’s music, please contact us and let us know what we can do to help.
Why not now? The NWEGS was incorporated on May 16, 2017 by its president and founder, Laura Loge, as a number of items all came together at the same time. In 2015 the Edvard Grieg Society of America was formed, which provided guidance, encouragement, a network of Grieg experts and support of regional Edvard Grieg societies in the US. We are grateful to them for their support. Additionally, our first project (upcoming events) came together with available and knowledgeable performers as well as a venue and a projected time line for the project. A board of dedicated, experienced people with varied and complimentary expertise has created a strong foundation to build on.
We hope that beginning the NWEGS now will help in connecting audiences and artists in the Northwest through sharing lesser known culture and music, bringing us all together to recognize our mutual human experience, enhanced by music and art, that crosses boundaries and breaks down barriers.
Laura Loge, president
Northwest Edvard Grieg Society