Edvard Grieg

Benestad, Finn; Schjelderup-Ebbe, Dag: Edvard Grieg

It was not only as Norway’s greatest composer that Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) left an indelible mark on the international, as well as the national, scene. He was also a notable writer, and conveyed his thoughts and ideas strikingly in letters, articles and speeches. His letters - there are thousands of them - are an almost inexhaustible source of knowledge about his life and work, and form a virtual autobiography in themselves.

Grieg was like a bird of passage. The late autumns found him longing to get away from the cold and frost of the Norwegian winter, and yearning for the bloom of artistic life in the great metropolises. But when spring came round, his majestic west coast temperament would draw him home "with irresistible force". His descriptions of summery, life-affirming sojourns by Hardangerfjord, of oneness with nature and its inner life at Troldhaugen, and of wanderings in the wild Norwegian mountains, especially Jotunheimen, bear witness to his love of the soil of his native land, which he loved and was wholly dependent on - for his art as well as his life.

These volumes, containing over fifteen hundred letters, are the most comprehensive collection of Grieg’s letters ever published. While the first volume concerns itself with Grieg’s letters to fellow countrymen, volume two deals with his correspondence with friends and colleagues abroad, including Johannes Brahms and Piotr Tchaikovsky. The letters do not merely bear witness to Grieg’s understanding of other nations’ art and culture, but also to his persistent desire to gaze outward from Norway to "wider horizons".

Since 1965, Finn Benestad has held a professorship of musicology at the University of Oslo. He has written numerous books about music, and has made significant contributions to our knowledge about Edvard Grieg and his music through various publications and his work in music education.

First published: 1980, Aschehoug
Schjelderup-Ebbe, Dag: Biography and bibliography
Finn Benestad: Biography and bibliography

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