The first and biggest amusement park in the North, founded in 1843, has its own concert auditorium and its own orchestras (now the Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Tivoli Symphony Orchestra, since 1844). From its inception until 1872, the musical director of the Tivoli Gardens was the Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye, a gifted imitator of the style of the Viennese Strausses. His best known work is a Champagne Galop (Champagnegaloppen).
Tivoli was a favourite meeting point for artists and residents of Copenhagen. It was here, in 1864, that Edvard Grieg first met Rikard Nordraak. A cousin of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Nordraak wrote several songs to words by Bjørnson; in 1864, he wrote the song which later became the Norwegian national anthem and which was enthusiastically received among Norwegian intellectuals in Copenhagen. A year older than Grieg, Nordraak was essentially a self-taught composer, although well aware of his talent. At the Tivoli, upon spotting Grieg, he apparently exclaimed: ‘At last we meet – we, the two greatest!’ The two young men became firm friends, and Nordraak, an enthusiast of everything Norwegian, who died two years later from tuberculosis, managed to convince Grieg to take an interest in Norwegian folk music. Grieg later commented: ‘I felt the scales fall from my eyes and I saw the path marked out before me’. He dedicated several of his works to his friend and to Nordraak’s memory.
Grieg’s first attempt to forge an individual style was the Humoresques, Op. 6, followed by the first sonatas, composed in the summer of 1865: the Piano Sonata in E minor and the Violin Sonata in F major.
Grieg also met Ole Bull and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson at the Tivoli. All those encounters would prove decisive for his development as a composer.