Grieg Fragments for Piano Concerto No. 2

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Edvard Grieg stood only 5 feet tall. When this is your height and your only other talent is that you are a gifted piano player, and you are growing up in Norway – a cold, mountainous country of fjords; long, unkind winters; Vikings – a place where physical strength decides if you live or die in the constant battle with Mother Nature – you are destined for a miserable and unhappy life. And so Edvard had a miserable childhood – he was bullied in school by the other kids. Luckily, he left Norway at age 15 and went to study at the Leipzig Conservatory. The emotional anguish of his childhood spilled over into beautiful music.

Today, more than a hundred years after his death, with his bullies converted into the nameless dust of history, Grieg is one of the most famous and admired Norwegians who ever lived. During his lifetime he wrote only one piano concerto, the A minor concerto. The A minor concerto is probably one of the top five most-performed piano concertos today (Tchaikovsky’s No. 1, Rachmaninoff’s 2nd, Beethoven 5th, and Mozart’s 20th are probably other contenders for top- five spots). Grieg wrote the A minor concerto when he was 25 years old. He attempted to write another piano concerto in B minor but never finished it.

Today we have two versions of it! Grieg’s sketches were turned into “fragments” of a concerto by two composers, Helge Evju and Laurent Beeckmans. We are going to listen to both today. The only way to know where Grieg ends and Evju and Beeckmans begin is to listen to both versions. Grieg’s melodies clearly come through – after all, they are the core both versions are built upon.

Laurent Beeckmans’s version:

Helge Evju’s version:

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Edvard Grieg


  • Peter Glass says:

    “Grieg wrote the A minor concerto when he was 25 years old. He attempted to write another piano concerto in B minor but never finished it.”

    Why do suppose two sharps plagued him?

  • Helge Evju says:

    Piano concertos in B minor have been written, by Hummel (excellent), Moszkowski and d’Albert (their huge 1st concertos), Stavenhagen and Dohnanyi (his very late 2nd), but none have achieved any popularity or become standard repertoire. Maybe there is a curse on the key? After the 1997 “Grieg2” competition there are now lots of B minor piano concertos around. The 2017 live performance by Helge Evju (75) is with the non-professional Symphony orchestra of Drammen, Norway, conducted by Terje Boye Hansen, a great champion of forgotten Norwegian music.

  • katya kats says:

    As always thank you for the treat of Grieg. We have a gloomy morning here, in Saratoga Spring area, and Grieg’s music was the perfect background for the somber thoughts I have. And your brother’s digital painting enhanced the mood. Love your stories about the composers and their anguish lives.

  • Laraine says:

    Thank you so very much for taking the time to introduce me and many others to wonderful music as well as some historical notes about the composers. So beautiful and interesting.

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