Chinese Artists Society of Toronto

Youth Orchestra


Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 Op. 46 by Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

Posted on June 12, 2016 at 9:10 AM

Peer Gynt is a Norwegian play by Henrik Ibsen, who approached Edvard Grieg in 1874 about writing incidental music for this play, as task which took over eighteenth months. The play’s main character Peer Gynt is the son of the once rich and highly regarded Jon Gynt, who had become a drunkard and lost all his money, leaving Peer and his mother Åse to live in poverty. Peer wants to restore what his father had wrecked, but gets lost in boasting and day-dreams. The play, accompanied by Grieg’s music, premiered in Oslo in 1876 and music’s success induced the arrangement of two suites, appearing in 1880 and 1891. This afternoon’s concert features Suite No. 1, consisting of four movements as outlined below:


I. Morning Mood (Morgenstemning): The opening of the first suite captures the beginning of the day in the glorious mountains and forests of Norway. Birds sing, the sun rises, and everything is fresh and lovely.

II. The Death of Åse (Åses død): An elegy depicting Peer Gynt's mother Aase dying alone on a mountain. This haunting, stark piece shows Grieg's masterful grasp of simplicity and power.

III. Anitra's Dance (Anitras dans): A seductive dance evoking the gracefulness of Anitra, a chieftain's daughter whom Peer Gynt is infatuated with.

IV. In the Hall of the Mountain King (I Dovregubbens hall): A hugely famous and popular piece, this is perhaps Grieg's most well-known tune. A frantic piece depicting the bizarre dances of gnomes, and their chase of Peer Gynt. The melody repeats over and over again, each time growing faster and more savage.

Categories: Program Notes

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