Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
Suite No 1 from Peer Gynt, Op 46 (1881)
I: Morning Mood
II: The Death of Åse
III: Anitra’s Dance
IV: In the Hall of the Mountain King
Growing up in the small city of Bergen in Norway, far removed from the dominant Austro-Germanic network of musicians and composers, the odds of Grieg going on to achieve widespread success as a composer were stacked against him. But even at a very early age, Grieg remembered the thrill of playing with new ideas at the piano, recalling ‘the wonderful, mystical satisfaction of stretching one’s arms up to the piano and bringing forth – not a melody. Far from it! No, it had to be a chord… When I had discovered this my rapture knew no bounds.’
Grieg’s fortunes were turned around in the summer of 1858 when the virtuoso violinist, Ole Bull, came to visit his family in Bergen. After listening to Grieg perform some of his early compositions, Bull exclaimed: ‘You are going to Leipzig to become an artist!’ The following autumn, Grieg enrolled in the Conservatory at Leipzig, and in the years that followed he would study the works of the Austro-Germanic mainstream: Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Wagner. But although he was an able student, Grieg’s musical interests lay elsewhere, rooted in the folk music of his homeland. When, in 1863, Grieg spent some time working alongside fellow Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak, everything fell into place: ‘The scales fell from my eyes… For the first time I learned through him to know the northern folk tunes and my own nature. We made a pact to combat the effeminate Gade-Mendelssohn mixture of Scandinavism, and boldly entered upon the new path along which the northern school at present pursues its course.’
Grieg’s new mission to promote the national music of Norway gave him a distinctive edge among his contemporaries, and the premiere of his Piano Concerto in 1869 earned him the widespread success he had long been seeking. Around the same time, Grieg met the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, whose most famous work, Peer Gynt, was to be restaged a few years later. Alternating between hard-edged realism and fantastical folklore, moving in and out of consciousness as the drama unfolds, the play follows a lazy farmhand named Peer, who wastes his days in dreams and brawls, and whose selfishness lands him in all sorts of misadventures, journeying from the Norwegian mountains to the North African desert. Feeling that he and Grieg shared common artistic values, Ibsen asked Grieg to write some incidental music to accompany the play on its revival in 1876. The music was such a triumph that Grieg later arranged eight of the most popular movements into two suites, the first of which is performed today. Lyrical, evocative and strongly grounded in the folksong of Norway, Grieg was largely delighted with his work, with just one exception which he lamented in a letter to a friend: ‘I have also written something for the scene in the hall of the mountain King – something that I literally can't bear listening to because it absolutely reeks of cow-pies, exaggerated Norwegian nationalism, and trollish self-satisfaction! But I have a hunch that the irony will be discernible.’
© Jo Kirkbride
“Little pig, little pig, let me come in!” ………..
Who in their right mind would let a wolf into their house? Well, not these three little pigs, that’s for sure! Straw and twigs are no match for the wolf, but bricks are a different matter!
This musical telling of a well-loved story takes us on a journey that has a few twists and turns. We meet three little pigs, two of which meet their demise fairly close to the start of the work. The third pig, however, is much more resourceful and uses his brains to call in some help to get rid of the wolf… but this pig ends up being surprised as well.
Following on from his extremely successful Little Red Riding Hood, Paul Patterson has written a musical showpiece for orchestra using Roald Dahl’s witty re-working of the classic Three Little Pigs story. Musical pictures of the pigs, the wolf and a musical borrowing from Little Red Riding Hood (our surprise guest) vividly bring this story to life. There is also the opportunity for audience participation so get ready to huff, puff and blow that house in!
© Lewis Mitchell
Text by Roald Dahl and Donald Sturrock
Deazley & Harvey
A Little Book of Monsters (2012)
I once worked with a theatre producer who told me that when I was looking for inspiration I could often be found at the dustiest desk in the back room, opening up the bottom drawer, just to check whether something had been left, discarded and hidden for years, waiting just for me to find. I took this as a great complement. In my work for children I have always felt an affinity with the directness of traditional fairy tales and rhyme – the world of bogeymen and child eating witches – where the perils for children are often more direct than contemporary stories, literally a matter of life or death. ‘A Little Book of Monsters’ comes from this place. We all still need our monsters. And children – Matt and I feel – still need the monsters of their imaginations in all their gory, gloopy and glorious shapes and forms.
This is the second book of songs Matt Harvey and I have written. We do seem to share the same funny bones, and both thoroughly enjoy the challenges and pleasures of writing for children. We hope you too enjoy the comic creations in this little book of monsters, wrought from Matt’s wonderful imagination, but one small word of warning. Not all of our monsters are funny (or funny all of the time), and if some linger in your imagination longer than others don’t be afraid to let them in. We think you will find they are just in your mind!
© Stephen Deazley
Come ready to scream! But only in the fun, hiding-behind-the-back-of-the-sofa way that kids love. Stephen Deazley and Matt Harvey's A Little Book of Monsters is full of songs about the kind of creatures that live under your bed… There’s more fun with Paul Patterson’s hilarious retelling of the Three Little Pigs, and a quick dance with a troll to start. Bring the kids and the grandkids.
Suitable for everyone over 6 years of age.
To book a Family Ticket please call the Usher Hall Box Office directly on 0131 228 1155.
Watch a quick film of the Monsters chorus!
Saturday 9 February, 10.30am–3pm at the Usher Hall
Free and suitable for all ages, this fun day of monster-inspired events includes music workshops, story-telling, face-painting, monster art workshops, magicians, balloon sculpting and more!
Find out more about the Little Book of Monsters primary school project.