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Photo: Bård Gundersen
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Edvard Grieg and the Peer Gynt suite

Many know Ibsen’s Peer Gynt through Edvard Grieg’s music, but few know what Grieg himself felt about the suite he wrote.


Music for the theatre play "Peer Gynt"

In 1874, Henrik Ibsen asked Edvard Grieg to compose the music for the stage play "Peer Gynt". It took Grieg two years to finish, and on February 24th 1876, Ibsen's "Peer Gynt" accompanied by Grieg's music had its premiere at Christiania Theater in Oslo.

The music was inspired by Norwegian folk music, but it was also written in the same way as Ibsen wrote "Peer Gynt", with an ironic tone of the Norwegian way of being at the time.

Edvard Grieg wrote in a letter about his work with the "Peer Gynt" music:

"It is an awfully intractable piece, some places, except from for example Solveig's song [...] And I have also done something for the Hall of the Mountain King, which I literally can not listen to, how it clings of cow patty, of norwegianness and self-enoughness. But I expect that the irony will be felt." 
- Edvard Grieg in a letter to Frants Beyer 27th august 1874

Little did he know that the music he could not listen to is the music he became most famous for, and the music that would make "Peer Gynt" known to so many people around the world.

Grieg's music by lake Gålåvatnet

Even though the theater production of "Peer Gynt" at Gålå can change between traditional and more modern expressions, the music still has its roots in Grieg's original Peer Gynt suite.

For the productions in 2014-2016, Kjetil Bjerkestrand composed new music that focused more on the rhythmical elements in Grieg's music then what the play traditionally does. The seven musicians had a stronger integration in the play itself, and brought both the traditional and more modern music closer to the audience.

In 2017 it was a new theatre production with new musical expressions. The same production will be in 2018.  

Travel to Gålå to experience the new interpretation of Grieg's music in the middle of Peer Gynt's kingdom.

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