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Every musician’s passion and dedication is evident as Maestro Kristian Alexander conducts the Kindred Spirits Orchestra and myself as guest pianist, in this full-length performance of Edvard Grieg’s beloved Piano Concerto in A Minor, Opus 16.
Complete credits for all musicians and orchestra personnel appear at the end of the film.
This was the *only concerto Grieg completed. It is one of his most popular works and among the most popular of all piano concerti.
It was originally scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A and B flat, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in E and E flat, 2 trumpets in C and B flat, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani and strings (violins, violas, cellos and double basses). He later added 2 horns and changed the tuba to a third trombone.
The work is among Grieg’s earliest important works, written by the 24-year-old composer in 1868 in Søllerød, Denmark, during one of his visits there to benefit from the climate, which was warmer than that of his native Norway.
Grieg’s concerto is often compared to the Piano Concerto of Robert Schumann: it is in the same key, the opening descending flourish on the piano is similar, and the overall style is considered to be closer to Schumann than any other single composer. Compact disc recordings often pair their concertos.
The enduring popularity of Grieg’s Piano Concerto has ensured its use in a wide variety of contexts.
The Concerto was featured in the film The Seventh Veil (1945) as the piece played by the young concert pianist (Ann Todd; the uncredited pianist was Eileen Joyce).
It was famously parodied in Franz Reizenstein’s Concerto Popolare of 1959 (written for Gerard Hoffnung’s music festival).
The concerto was used in a sketch by the British comedians Morecambe and Wise in their 1971 Christmas show, conducted by André Previn, with Eric Morecambe as soloist. Morecambe claims he is playing “all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”.
The first movement is used in Adrian Lyne’s 1997 film Lolita.
In 2004, it was featured in a Nike commercial.
The opening piano piece in the first movement is featured in a 2008 Range Rover commercial.
The first movement was used in David Lynch and Mark Frost’s cult TV show Twin Peaks season 2; episode 21.
The first movement was used by composer Mark Snow in The X-Files episode Salvage.
Crossover pianist Maksim Mrvica plays a modernised version in his album The Piano Player.
The music of the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg continues to be relevant in †popular culture into the 21st century. This is due to his music’s fast pace, instrumentation, and similarity in feel to many popular musical genres. This is not a coincidence, since Grieg was known for taking many of his melodies from Norwegian folk music, especially from the western shore area around Bergen. He is quoted as writing, “I am sure my music has the taste of codfish in it.” His music’s notability in popular culture is evidenced by the vast number of references to his music in music teaching, cartoons, “pop” concerts, and other forms and media.
His music continues to fascinate scholars as well. He has had much influence on high culture and low, including on Percy Grainger, the Australian folk music composer and collector.
One reason his music is so popular today is that:
“Grieg … saw that his music appealed to people beyond his own immediate sphere of activity. Musicians and audiences were enthusiastic in both America and Australia. In the hundred years that have passed since Grieg’s death, many of his works have … in recent years met with a greater interest and it is perhaps a healthy sign that a younger generation of musicians has revitalized the manner of performing Grieg’s music – liberating it from some of the hoarier myths.”
~Arvid O. Vollnes
Another reason his music is popular is that his is “music that is easy to remember”:
In today’s pop music world, the word hook refers to the catchy, repeated element in a piece of music… In classical music, the same concept applies. A hook helps you remember, and identify with, a particular piece of music. The compositions of Mozart … Grieg, and Schubert have hooks galore – so many hooks, in fact, that several of them have been pilfered for the melodies of today’s rock songs.
~“Classical Music for Dummies”
RED Epic super-slow-motion and super-wide-angle footage
by Ian Sun, Anansi Moving Images
Many thanks to Jobert Sevellino for additional footage
of Maestro Kristian Alexander.
* from “Grieg Piano Concerto”
† from “Grieg’s music in popular culture”