Virtual Music Hour

  Grieg Archive

  Introduction to Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor

  Listen to the Music

Movement 1

Movement 2

Movement 3


Welcome to Virtual Music Hour. In preparation for your listening experience, Assistant Principal Violist Catherine Beeson has made guides with activities that can be enjoyed alone, with your quarantine buddies at home and online, or with your students. These activities can be mixed, matched, and altered to create an experience that’s right for you, or as inspiration to create your own. Get as creative as you’d like. Share it with us on social media! If you like seeing and hearing the Colorado Symphony musicians online, imagine how uplifting it would be for us to see and hear you too!

Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto is super engaging to listen to, and especially this performance with one our favorite returning guest soloists Olga Kern. Enjoy getting to know a bit more about the piece and composer, and have a great time listening!

  Edvard Grieg completed his only concerto for piano in 1868 when he was just 25 years old! It was premiered in Copenhagen in 1869.

  Grieg’s Piano Concerto is in three movements and is a little less than half an hour long.

  Grieg was a huge fan of Robert Schumann, who composed his only piano concerto just ten years earlier. There are similarities between Schumann’s concerto and Grieg’s, including both being in the key of A minor, and general stylistic similarities. For this reason, they are sometimes confused with one another even though Grieg incorporated Norwegian folk elements into his concerto.

  This piece is one of the most popular and consistently performed piano concertos. As such, it has also made its way into numerous popular culture references including the films Intermezzo and The Seventh Veil, the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a Jethro Tull tour, and the video game Civilization V. The one that has fortunately/unfortunately stood the test of time for some of us is the early 80s aerobics album Hooked On Classics. Look for it there (around the 3:45 mark), nestled between the "Hallelujah Chorus" and "March of the Toréadors". You’re welcome.

  Grieg’s score calls for solo piano, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani, and the usual string section of violins, violas, cellos and basses. It pretty much looked like a musical Noah’s Ark until he later changed it to add 2 more horns and converted the tuba to a third trombone. Maybe that’s also what happened to the unicorns...

Here is a listening map that can guide you through your listening experience. Read it in advance or while you’re listening!

Movement 1

Allegro molto moderato
In English:  Very medium fast

This music gets started with flare! First a timpani roll and then an impressive and dramatic series of rhythmic chords in the solo piano from the higher register to the lower register of the instrument before we get to the main theme. Toward the end there is a cadenza for the piano soloist to really tear it up, and then, to tie it all up, we hear dramatic material similar to the beginning of the movement.

Edvard Grieg is considered a major cultural icon in Norway, and is generally recognized as a leading Romantic era composer. Still, some of the expressions of this found worldwide can seem a little odd. For example, there is a large statue of Grieg in Seattle, a crater on Mercury is named after him, and one of the largest hotels in his hometown is named after him.

  Consider how a person’s reputation and legacy can eclipse the specific thing they “do.”

In Grieg’s case he was a musician and composer, but due to his documentation of Norwegian folk music, he became more broadly revered as a cultural advocate and prominent historical figure.

  Have a “Consider and Discuss” conversation with your quarantine buddies about big and small examples of this you can find. Include yourselves in this conversation!

The main theme of the last movement is influenced by the Norwegian halling dance, which is a very rhythmic and athletic type of solo folk dance. You can hear this reflected in the music as Grieg chooses heavy accented sounds amid playful quick sounds.

  Have some fun searching on the internet for various styles of popular dance throughout the 20th and 21st centuries and try to imagine how you might make a piece of music for orchestra that reflected these dances!

Now that you’ve had a chance to consider, discuss, and get active around Grieg’s Piano Concerto it’s time to listen to the Colorado Symphony performance. There are all sorts of ways to engage as a listener, especially when listening at home instead of the concert hall. Sing/hum/whistle along, move and dance, journal or draw what you hear, or just turn the volume up and listen for sheer pleasure! Please share your experience with us! We would love to hear about it or see any of your activities, journaling, or creations!



Please share your musical adventure with us through social media! We would love to hear about it or see any of your activities, journaling, or creations!


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