Edvard Hagerup Grieg, famous musical son of Norway, was born 168 years ago today (15 June 1843).
His father was a businessman and diplomat with Scottish heritage, and his mother an accomplished amateur musician and Edvard’s first teacher. As a teenager he was sent to the Leipzig Conservatory for study, and then spent some time in Copenhagen.
It was the famous Piano Concerto in A minor, written in 1868, which put Grieg on the map as a serious composer. Liszt was impressed with it, and also read over the young man’s first violin sonata. From roots in the German tradition, Grieg would go on to be identified as a prominent nationalist composer, basing much of his work on the folklore and folk music of Norway.
By his twilight years Grieg had become an international celebrity. He befriended several young composers, most especially Percy Grainger, whose penchant for folk material the elder statesman heartily encouraged. He died in 1907; as many as 40,000 people filled the streets of Bergen for the occasion of his funeral.