Composers / Edvard Grieg / Routes
Grieg’s efforts to obtain a government grant to set up a Norwegian Music Academy came to nought, and so the composer was forced to accept more or less talented pupils. He spent nearly ten years in the capital, over which time he worked hard to ensure that performers and audiences alike understood and accepted the new music composed by him and his contemporaries. Fortunately, he was supported in that task by two powerful friends: the composer and conductor Johan Svendsen, with whom he worked very closely, and the writer Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, who strove to awaken a national awareness. Grieg wrote many works to his texts, such as songs, vaudevilles and music theatre. Bjørnson’s most cherished idea was to create a national opera. To that end, he chose the figure of the great Viking ruler Olav Tryggvason. Grieg’s opera to Bjørnson’s libretto under that title was never finished. The poet, who around that time (1865–1867) was director of the Christiania Theatre, gradually stopped providing the composer with texts. Grieg waited several years, and then he accepted a proposition from Henrik Ibsen to write music to his dramatic epic Peer Gynt, adapted for the stage.
The composer was also supported in all kinds of ways by another friend, the piano maker Karl Hals, who besides his factory also ran a music publishing firm and a concert bureau. Hals organised for the Griegs (Edvard played and Nina sang) concert tours of towns and villages along the coast from Christiania to Bergen. The composer, in return, advertised his products, playing on instruments by the firm of Brødrene Hals.