Final Paper on Edvard Grieg - Introduction to Music Final...

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Introduction to Music - Final PaperMaking of the Romantic Nationalist ComposerThe Incidental Music of Peer Gynt by Edvard GriegEdvard Grieg (1843 - 1907) is considered as one of the most important composers of the Romantic period. He is regarded as one of the most important drivers of the Norwegian nationalist school for music. Grieg composed a great variety of music work, including choral, vocal and chamber music. His most famous work is his incidental music to Norwegian play, Peer Gynt. Grieg continued to refine his work and published Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 and Peer Gynt Suite No.2later in this life. The incidental music is still regularly used in popular music as incidental music for movies and TV advertisements. Peer Gyntnot only shows traits of the nationalist school in the nineteenth century, it also exemplifies the genre of programmatic music from the Romantic era.Nationalist ideologies that started to spring during the Romantic era influenced Grieg’s musical style. The change of political conditions encouraged composers to create music pieces that reflect their national roots and shows their love for their homeland. For example, Chopin’s Polonaise and Mazurka piano pieces use the Polish folk dance structures that show his Polish origins. Wagner also showed his patriotism to Germany through his opera works.Living through this romantic nationalistic era, Grieg was influenced by prominent nationalist composers at the time to create Norwegian nationalist music.Norwegian nationalist composers, including Ole Bull and Rikard Nordraak, began
establishing a musical style that reflects characters of Norway.1For instance, Ole Bull started to incorporate Norwegian folk music elements into classical music. Moreover, they shared an ambition of creating a Norwegian national theatre2that showcased Norwegian plays and music productions. Although Norway gained independence from Denmark, the center of music and play productions remained in Copenhagen and Copenhagen theaters only performed Danish plays. Through conversations and meetings with these composers early in Grieg’s career, Grieg felt obligated to continue to establish the Norwegian music style and fulfill his predecessor’s ambitions. These influences drove Grieg into becoming the most celebrated Norwegian nationalist composer.3The romantic nationalistic influences by his predecessors were reflected in Grieg’s musical compositions, particularly for his generous use of Norwegian traditional folk music.At the age of 31, Grieg accepted Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen’s invitation to compose incidental music for Peer Gyntin 1874. Realizing the composition requires much more effort than writing short phrases for the play, Grieg showed difficulties in composing the incidental music as he described the play to be the “most unmusical of it all.”4After more than a year of hard work, the play was finally premiered in 28th February 1876 in the relatively new Christiania 1John Horton. Grieg. (London: Dent, 1974), 13-31.

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