Spotlight on Great Classical Composers: Grieg


We are now on our tenth post for this Spotlight series ~!  This also means that we have crossed the 10-month mark in The Glasshouse and that we’ve stacked up 10 months worth of stories, activities, canvases and more within this sphere ! 

This month, we take a look at Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907), a Norwegian composer and pianist best known for his influence on classical music in the Romantic era and his prolific use of Norwegian folk materials in his work ~!

Born to Gesine Grieg ~ a music teacher, Grieg was exposed to music from a young age and started learning the piano under the guidance of his mother.

When Ole Bull ~ the famous Norwegian folk violinist, heard Grieg play one of his very own compositions at the age of 15, it was immediately advised for his parents to send him to Leipzig Conservatory, the leading conservatory in Europe at the time, to pursue musical studies. 

Grieg stayed in contact with Ole Bull, and after his years at Leipzig Conservatory ~ moved to Denmark to stay with him.  Whilst Grieg was under the influence of the musical styles of renowned German composers Mendelssohn and Schumann during his period of studies in Leipzig, Ole Bull introduced him to traditional Norwegian folk music during his stay in Denmark – and this piqued Grieg’s interest in the music originating from his roots and heritage.

Grieg’s interest in the music of his roots and heritage was also encouraged by his meeting with Rikard Nordraak – the composer behind Norway’s national anthem.

It was after these impetus that Grieg returned to settle down in Norway – focusing his energies on studying Norwegian folk music and dances, developing ways to incorporate them into his creative work in classical music.

Beyond Norwegian folk music and dances, Grieg also studied Norwegian poetry, plays, novels and their national folk instrument – the Hardanger fiddle.

These various forms of art became significant sources of inspirations for Grieg’s work, and many of his compositions came to reflect the landscape and the way of life of the Norwegian people !  

the Hardanger fiddle, a traditional stringed instrument and the national instrument of Norway


After settling down in Christiania (now Oslo) in Norway ~ Grieg tied the knot in 1867 and right after welcoming the birth of his daughter, he composed one of his most well-received works, his A minor Piano Concerto.

Reflecting the 25-year-old’s contented regard for his state in life, the Piano Concerto was a huge success and brought Grieg immediate fame.

A few years later, Henrik Ibsen ~ a Norwegian playwright and poet who had written multiple well-admired plays such as The Wild Duck, A Doll’s House and Peer Gynt, reached out to Grieg to seek his interest in writing incidental music to a theatre production of Peer Gynt.  A story based on a real person, Peer Gynt tells of the downfall and redemption of a Norwegian peasant, and upon its premiere staged with Grieg’s music in 1876, has became one of the most widely performed Norwegian plays – with the music becoming Grieg’s most popular works. 

A significant composer to many others who had sought to turn to their heritage for inspiration ~ like Bartók and Enescu, Grieg’s music remains some of the most well-loved within the standard classical repertoire till date.

Find out more about Grieg’s process in creating the incidental music to Peer Gynt by visiting our #origins Storyboards in The Glasshouse now ~!

*an EXCLUSIVE UPDATE only for our blogpost readers here !

– we will be launching an exciting piece of artwork this July featuring Grieg’s music and the dramatic landscape of Norway ~!

So do keep an eye out for this release on our social media pages, by following us on Facebook and Instagram ! (:

See you in July for our next Spotlight on Great Classical Composers !