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Grieg - String Quartet No. 1 in G minor Opus 27



Type of Spiritual Experience


Dictionary of Unitarian &  Universalist Biography – ‘Edvard and Nina Grieg’ by Peter Hughes November 4, 2004                

During his years of personal crisis Grieg composed some of his most beautiful music. In 1878 he completed his String Quartet, op. 27. He composed one of his greatest songs, "Varen" (Spring) in 1880 and soon after arranged it for string orchestra as "The Last Spring." Nina's rendition of "Varen" later reduced Tchaikovsky to tears.

Grieg wrote the quartet in 1877-78, while living at a farm in Hardanger. He wrote to a friend

"I have recently finished a string quartet which I still haven't heard. It is in G minor and is not intended to bring trivialities to market. It strives towards breadth, soaring flight and above all resonance for the instruments for which it is written."

A description of the experience

Edvard Grieg - String Quartet No. 1 in g minor [With score]

Composer: Edvard Hagerup Grieg (15 June 1843 -- 4 September 1907)
Performers: Copenhagen String Quartet [Tutter Givskov (violin), Mogens Lydolph (violin), Mogens Bruun (viola), Asger Lund Christiansen (violoncello)]

String Quartet No. 1 in g minor, Op. 27, written in 1877-1878

00:00 - I. Un poco Andante - Allegro molto ed agitato
11:54 - II. Romanze
18:05 - III. Intermezzo
24:29 - IV. Finale. Lento - Presto al Saltarello

Grieg was, at root, a miniaturist. He did not often work in the large scale of the sonata form; his entire completed literature in this form consists of a symphony that he suppressed, one concerto, one cello sonata, three violin sonatas, and this quartet. (Later, he wrote two movements toward another one.) It was composed in 1877-1878.

It is an exceedingly attractive and untroubled work, with a melodic spirit that recalls his best songs or piano works. One song-like figure in particular is used throughout. Grieg does treat his material in sonata fashion, but not rigorously. There is a feeling of Norwegian peasant dances in the scherzo, while the finale trots merrily with a saltarello rhythm. It is, in short, a lovable work, heartwarming in the way that Grieg's music so often is.

The first performance of the quartet took place in Cologne in October 1878, by a quartet led by the work's dedicatee, violinist Robert Heckmann.

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