Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A min
Op 16 (1869)
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
- Allegro molto moderato
- Allegro moderato molto e marcato
Today Edvard Grieg is renowned as Norway’s national treasure, his birthday being celebrated with a national holiday. It was not always so. His future mother-in-law dismissed Grieg as an unsuitable match for her daughter, saying: “He is nothing; he has nothing; and he makes music no one wants to hear.” Undeterred, Grieg threw himself into both his composing, culminating in 1866 with an acclaimed concert of Norwegian music, and his courting, marrying Nina in 1867.
The Griegs spent a happy summer in the country with their newborn daughter, and it was in these idyllic circumstances that Grieg, still aged only 25, composed his piano concerto. Having studied in Leipzig with a friend of Schumann, Grieg’s piano concerto is strongly influenced by Schumann’s concerto in the same key. However, the lyrical melodies of the concerto owe much to Norwegian’s folk heritage, which, a few years earlier, Grieg had resolved to build on to create a unique Nordic identity, which is most evident in his later small scale works.
The concerto is Grieg’s only major large scale work and was enthusiastically received. The young Grieg was greatly encouraged by the warm praise from Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Anton Rubinstein.
The concerto’s famous opening belies the wistful melancholy that pervades most of the first movement. The peaceful second movement is based on a hushed theme introduced by muted strings, and leads directly to the march-like introduction to the finale, modelled on the Norwegian “springdans”. A contrasting wistful folk-like theme is played by the flute and the two are developed progressively into a grand triumphant conclusion.
Performed: July 2003, Aug 2013