Composers / Edvard Grieg / Places catalog
Hans Tank Secondary School
The Hans Tank Secondary School was founded in 1850 in a wooden building at 47 Øvregaten from funds bequeathed in 1798 by the merchant Hans Tank (his forebear had come to Bergen from Lübeck) and his wife Maria, née Kramer, whose only child died at the age of six. Edvard Grieg attended this school from 1853 to 1858, from 1855 at its modern building at 21 Kong Oscars Gate. At this school, there were lessons in German, English, French, Norwegian, religion, history, geography, arithmetic, geometry, natural history, writing, drawing, singing and physical education.
Edvard hated school and sought every opportunity not to attend the lessons, which bored him. One of his favourite ways of avoiding school was to come to lessons in wet clothes, thanks to which he would be quickly packed off home to change. He was never a diligent pupil, and his interests often departed from the school curriculum. In 1855, his marks averaged 3.15, but from 1856 they gradually improved. The future composer’s worst subjects were written English and Norwegian, arithmetic and physical education. In the autumn of 1858, two years before the end of his education, he suddenly left school. The school records contain a brief note to the effect that he was crossed off on 31 August in order to prepare to become a musician. By that time, he already had his first attempts at composing behind him. When he was twelve or thirteen, one of his early school works, which he entitled ‘Variations on a German air for piano’, was publicly ridiculed by his teacher during a German lesson, and he received a humiliating reprimand: ‘Next time, he will bring a German dictionary with him, as he should, and he will leave such rubbish at home’.
Edvard Grieg, portrait, ca. 1858, Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek.
Tanks Upper Secondary School. (creative commons)