Grand Casino Hall
The Grand Casino Hall at 10 Amaliegade was a kind of winter Tivoli Gardens (designed by the same architect). It hosted concerts, theatre shows, rallies and so on. It was here, on 3 April 1869, that Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor was first performed, with the work’s dedicatee Edmund Neupert as soloist and professional musicians of the Musikernes Orkesterforening (Union of Orchestral Musicians) directed by Holger Simon Paulli, Kapellmeister of the Royal Theatre. Both the musicians and the conductor, fascinated by this music, applied themselves greatly to the task, with long rehearsals with the soloist held over four full days.
During the winter of 1868, Grieg struggled with the orchestration of the concerto, despite difficulties with his everyday life and numerous lessons, because the premiere was already on the programme for just before Christmas.
The composer himself was not present at the first performance, due to previous engagements with the orchestra in Christiania (Oslo).
Fate decreed that the piano on which Neupert gave the first performance of the A minor Concerto belonged to the great Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein (founder of the St Petersburg Conservatory), who happened to call at Copenhagen on a concert tour and lent Neupert his own instrument.
Of course, Rubinstein took a seat in the honorary box and listened to Grieg’s new music alongside representatives of the Copenhagen musical elite, including Niels W. Gade and Johan Peter Emilius Hartmann. The music environment had long been alive with rumours that Grieg was preparing something unusual, and so the hall was crammed full. The concerto surpassed all expectations. The audience’s reaction both during and after Neupert’s rendition was exceptionally enthusiastic. The performance was interrupted by spontaneous applause and cries, not just after each movement, but also after the first movement cadenza.