Composers / Edvard Grieg / Routes
A port city on the North Sea, the second biggest city in Norway, the most important centre for navigation and trade in the country, a cargo and tourist port. From 1360 to 1754, it was an agency of the Hanseatic League (the Wendish group, with its headquarters in Lübeck, trading in dried fish). It has a university and numerous colleges.
In Grieg’s times, Bergen had around 25,000 inhabitants and was teeming with life. Growing up in such a city must have been quite an experience for a sensitive young boy. Not without reason was the city called the gateway to Europe, given that a great variety of foreign languages could be heard on the streets, a range of ships with exotic flags and cargoes moored in the port, and cultural life was thriving, thanks to numerous Bergenians who after travels and studies in the big wide world had called at their home port bringing with them a breath of new ideas and new people, including musicians. In 1765, the ‘Harmonien’ Music Society was founded, with its own ‘symphony’ orchestra – a mixture of professional military and church musicians and talented amateurs.
After his studies in Leipzig, Grieg returned briefly to Bergen, but soon left for Copenhagen, where he continued his studies. Until the death of his parents, in 1875, he regularly visited this city.
From 1880, he spent two seasons conducting the ‘Harmonien’ Orchestra. His greatest joy during those two years in Bergen was his friendship with the lawyer Frants Beyer. It was he who persuaded Grieg to buy a plot on which to build a house in the vicinity, since he was himself building a house to the south of the city, in Hop. In 1884, the decision was taken, and a year later, in a picturesque spot on an archipelago ten kilometres from the centre, the Troldhaugen villa was built.