Saturday, June 25, 2011

Great Scot

Looking at pictures of Edvard Grieg I found the oddly pathetic picture up above.

I am thinking, what is this, some joke?

It was an unfortunate period for men's fashions. He just looks like a sad sack, you know?

This site reports that Greig's ancestors were from Scotland and the family name was originally "Greig." Too bad it is not still! Because every time I type it it comes out Greig.

Such Norwegian nationalism swirls around Grieg that I wonder if they mind that his family was from Scotland. I hear that his picture is on Norwegian Air planes, along with Jenny Lind's and Ole Bull (a name I love).

A young Grieg.

An artistic photo of a young-ish Grieg.

Grieg did not have much of a chin!

Here is my Grieg story. I was a teen-ager and in the middle of this Mozart craze which, I have to say, has lasted my whole life. I was buying records one fevered afternoon and one that I picked up was Mozart's ballet "Les Petits Riens," which translates to "The Little Nothings."

On the other side of the record was Grieg's "Holberg Suite."

I went home and when I got around to that record I played the Mozart. I realized pretty quick that Mozart was on autopilot when he wrote that thing.

But the other side!

The Grieg!

That was a different story!

I held onto that record over the years all on account of that Grieg. That "Holberg Suite." I have played it hundreds of times. That was how I first got to know the "Holberg Suite," by accident.

So lovely.


  1. Your right in assuming that few Norwegians know that Grieg had Scottish ancestors. You're equally correct in mentioning that Grieg's status as an icon for Norwegian classical music may be the reason that his Scottish background is so sparsely known. It was his great-grandfather who moved to Bergen, Norway. That he is an icon in Norway's musical life is no surprise. Norway had little or no cultural life of its own before the end of the union with Denmark (1814). So that we got people like Grieg and Ibsen relatively shortly after, is something of a miracle.
    As for his family's change in spelling their name it probably had phonetic reasons. I understand that Greig in Scottish would be pronounced with very little diphthong, but almost like a long ee-sound. The ei-spelling would in Norwegian be a clear open diphthong, something like the broad diphthong when a cockny says make, take or lady. This was however avoided with the writing Grieg, which ensured a long ee-sound, probably relatively close to the original Scottish pronunciation.


  2. Anonymous Norwegian, how interesting to hear from you! Thank you for writing. I think Norway has a right to claim Grieg. It is like England claiming Handel. Actually Norway has more of a right ... if Grieg's great-grandfather moved to Norway, I am assuming the rest of the family from then on was Norwegian, right? So he was Norwegian with a Scottish great-grandfather. Which would make him 1/8 Scottish. Not much.

    About the "ie" and "ei," it works that way in German too. You pronounce the second vowel.

    More importantly... seeing that you are Norwegian, do you drink Glogg? I am looking for a good recipe for this Christmas.

  3. I am no expert, but hope this can be of some help:

  4. This is perhaps even better: