Edvard Hagerup Grieg (1843 – 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is widely considered one of the leading Romantic era composers, and his music is part of the standard classical repertoire worldwide. His use and development of Norwegian folk music in his own compositions put the music of Norway in the international spectrum, as well as helping to develop a national identity, much as Jean Sibelius and Antonín Dvořák did in Finland and Bohemia, respectively.
In 1861, Grieg made his debut as a concert pianist in Sweden. He went on to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he met the Danish composers J. P. E. Hartmann and Niels Gade. He also met fellow Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak, who became a good friend and source of inspiration. Nordraak died in 1866, and Grieg composed a funeral march in his honor.
In 1868, Franz Liszt, who had not yet met Grieg, wrote a testimonial for him to the Norwegian Ministry of Education, which led to Grieg obtaining a travel grant. The two men met in Rome in 1870. On Grieg's first visit, they went over Grieg's Violin Sonata No. 1. On his second visit, in April, Grieg brought with him the manuscript of his Piano Concerto, which Liszt began to sightread. Liszt's rendition greatly impressed his audience, although Grieg gently pointed out to him that he played the first movement too quickly. Liszt also gave Grieg some advice on orchestration.
In 1874–76, Grieg composed incidental music for the premiere of Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt. This the famous excerpt entitled, "In the Hall of the Mountain King.” In a letter to his friend Frants Beyer, Grieg expressed his unhappiness with Dance of the Mountain King's Daughter, one of the movements he composed for Peer Gynt, writing, "I have also written something for the scene in the hall of the mountain King – something that I literally can't bear listening to because it absolutely reeks of cow-pies, exaggerated Norwegian nationalism, and trollish self-satisfaction! But I have a hunch that the irony will be discernible."
Grieg had close ties with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Harmonien), and later became Music Director of the orchestra from 1880 to 1882. In 1888, Grieg met Tchaikovsky in Leipzig. Tchaikovsky thought very highly of Grieg's music, praising its beauty, originality and warmth.
Grieg was awarded two honorary doctorates, first by the University of Cambridge in 1894 and the next from the University of Oxford in 1906. Today, fans can visit his Villa Troldhaugen, built in 1885, and explore the ground floor of the house, where Grieg’s very own Steinway piano from 1862 still resides. The instrument is playable and often used for concerts and recordings.