Music Composers

Edvard Grieg-Part 8

Grieg's Later Years

In 1877 Grieg returned to his native land and built a small study-house on one of the gorgeously beautiful fjords near the Hardanger Fjord. There, in a little one-room study, Grieg wrote many of his most beautiful things. This little house soon became the Mecca for so many visitors that in 1855 he abandoned the plan and built the villa Troldhaugen (hill of the sprites), which remained his home until his death. This was located a few miles from Bergen. Grieg made frequent visits to the continent for the purpose of introducing his compositions. Everywhere he was received with great favor. In 1888, he played his pianoforte concerto in London with the Philharmonic Orchestra, and thereafter made additional trips to England where both he and his wife became very popular. In 1894, Cambridge University gave him the honorary degree of Doctor of Music. Grieg was often invited to come to America by managers who had not been slow to observe the enormous success of his European appearances. Shortly before death, one American manager sent him a pressing invitation to make a tour of this country. Grieg replied that owing to his very frail health he had always avoided the trip, but suggested that if he could be guaranteed thirty concerts at two thousand five hundred a concert he would make the attempt. Of course this amount was prohibitive. From this it would appear that Grieg was a good business man. In a sense, he was, be he estimated that the total earnings of all his compositions received by him during his entire lifetime was not equal to the royalties upon the Merry Widow during the performance of that opera in the city of Christiana alone.

In his later years Grieg was a continual sufferer from asthma. In August 1907, the effects of the disease became more and more noticeable. He was obliged to go to a hospital. He realized that the end was near and died during the night of September 3rd. An autopsy revealed that his sufferings for years had been excruciating. He was so deeply loved by the Norwegian people that his death fairly staggered the nation. The funeral was conducted by the Norwegian government, and took place in part in the leading art museum of Bergen. Fifty thousand people were in the vast throng which sought to attend the funeral. Floral tributes came from all over Europe, including a wreath sent by the German Kaiser. Grieg's remains were cremated and buried in the side of a precipice near Troldhaugen.

The Etude Magazine June 1913





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