Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Be Serious About It

Morning (1821) by Caspar David Friedrich

It's been a while since we celebrated the birth date of a composer of classical music. So, let's take the opportunity to think on and enjoy the works of the great Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg, born on this date in 1843. Overall, I'm not wild about his music, but I usually find it charming and fun. Late Romantic compositions often incorporated nationalistic themes and styles. Grieg's work is a paradigm of this trend.

My main criticism of his works is that they are so excessively folksy and syrupy that it's a bit overwhelming. It almost becomes campy or self-satirical. However, there is such a dedicated seriousness to the underlying compositional techniques that it can't be dismissed as mere bombast or sentimentality. No, although the expressive impression of these works seems flashy and shallow upon a casual listen, they are actually deep and complex works.

Stetind I Take (1864) by Peder Balke

Let's give them a listen and you can judge for yourself.

Here's the very familiar Morning Mood:

Here's the beautiful Solveig's Song:

And here's the exuberant showstopper, In the Hall of the Mountain King:

These works are all easily accessible on the surface level. However, listen carefully to the underlying compositional structure. There's much more going on than it first appears.

Here's a link to Edvard Grieg's Wikipedia page.

Here's a link to Peder Balke's Wikipedia page.

Here's a link to Caspar David Friedrich's Wikipedia page.

And here's Marita Solberg's Wikipedia page and official website.


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