John Bergsagel – paper 2011

Presented at the Grieg Conference in Copenhagen August 11, 2011

John Bergsagel, Denmark
Professor Emeritus
University of Copenhagen

“… an indefinable longing drove me towards Copenhagen”
(Grieg to Iver Holter, 9 February, 1897)
In a letter to his friend, the Norwegian composer and conductor Iver Holter, dated 9 February, 1897, Edvard Grieg wrote “… an indefinable longing drove me towards Copenhagen.” He was referring to the feeling that overwhelmed him when in 1862, at the age of 19, he prepared to leave the Leipzig Conservatory, but it appears to have remained with him and caused him to keep returning to the Danish capital throughout his life. It has been estimated that Edvard Grieg spent altogether some ten years of his life in Copenhagen. I have not attempted to
make such a calculation myself, but ten years is perhaps not an unreasonable estimate. It was in any case quite a long time and if the estimate is correct, it means that Grieg lived nearly a fourth part of his mature life – that is, after having completed his studies at the conservatory in Leipzig in 1862 until his death in 1907 – in the Danish capital. It is scarcely surprising, then, that the question should be asked – on the internet, of course – “What did Edvard Grieg
do in Copenhagen Denmark”?

Download the whole paper here
Paper John Bergsagel 2011

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