Presented at the Grieg Conference in Bergen May 30, 2015
Gregory Martin, USA
Ph.D., University of Indianapolis
Haugtussa and the Poetics of Enchantment.
The topic of enchantment is a common one in critical discourse surrounding Edvard Grieg, whether it be rather general pronouncements of how, for example, the Lyric Pieces “create individual worlds of enchantment,” or more thoughtful investigations into the nature of his music, such as Daniel Grimley’s reiteration of the popular trope so often affixed to Grieg’s work: “the myth of a subterranean supernatural music that enchants or bewitches passers-by (1).” While this motif may perhaps sometimes border on cliché, it is not unmerited; indeed, it is a conceit with which the composer engaged in much of his greatest and most popular work: Peer Gynt, Den Bergtekne, and the string quartet in G minor, to name but a handful – not to mention naming his home Troldhaugen. Today, I would like to briefly examine this premise through the lens of the masterful song-cycle Haugtussa, and in so doing outline how Grieg’s artistic choices collude to produce a work that conveys the sense of enchantment not merely as a surface-level poetics, but in its very structure.