Presented at the Grieg Conference in Berlin May 14, 2009
Asbjørn Ø. Eriksen, Norway
Professor, Department of Musicology
University of Oslo
Edvard Grieg’s Song Cycles Reiseminder fra Fjeld og Fjord (Op. 44) and Elegiske Digte (Op. 59). Attempt at a revaluation.
Edvard Grieg’s Reiseminder fra Fjeld og Fjord [Reminiscenses from Mountain and Fjord] Op. 44 set to texts by Holger Drachmann was written in 1886 – the same year as the successful third album Lyric Pieces Op. 43 and the brilliant Third Violin Sonata. Elegiske Digte [Elegiac Songs] Op. 59 – settings of six poems by John Paulsen – were realized in 1893/94, at the same time as the highly esteemed Krag Songs Op. 60. We may then assume that Grieg wrote these songs in periods of creative inspiration. However, leading Norwegian Grieg specialists Monrad Johansen, Finn Benestad and Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe have regarded Reiseminder fra Fjeld og Fjord and Elegiske Digte as two of the weakest works by Grieg within the song genre. An opinion also shared, seemingly, by Beryl Foster and Sandra Jarrett in their books on Grieg’s songs. Russian musicologists and Grieg specialists have presented quite different views on these songs: Boris Asafev, Olga Levasheva and Ruth Leytes regard Elegiske Digte as outstanding, and Asafev and Leytes also praise Reiseminder fra Fjeld og Fjord.
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Asbjorn Eriksen paper 2009