Edvard Grieg

Fra Holbergs tid (From Holberg’s Time), for piano ("Holberg Suite"), Op. 40

    Description by Erik Eriksson

    Despite the fact that Ludvig Holberg (1684 - 1754) lived most of his life in Denmark and was considered the father of Danish literature, his birthplace was Bergen, Norway, and for the bicentenary of his birth, Norwegians celebrated heartily. Even as a resident of Denmark, Holberg recalled in his works his childhood and celebrated the time that he spent there. Made a baron in 1747, his was an imposing reputation. Educated at the universities of Copenhagen and Oxford, Holberg's writings are regarded as having established Danish as a literary language. Prior to his time, Danish was employed only in ballads and hymns; plays were presented in French or German. Besides more than a dozen successful plays (several of them comedies), he wrote a history of his adopted country and published a collection of philosophical treatises.

    Notwithstanding his stronger relationship to Denmark, Norwegians were pleased to acknowledge Holberg, and Grieg, also a Bergen native, was one of those who directed the planning for the event. As early as 1878, he contributed a fee from his publisher to the erecting of a Holberg statue in Bergen. Further, he wrote two works, the first for male voices, a Cantata for the Unveiling of the Holberg Memorial, and a second (of more lasting consequence) entitled From Holberg's Time: Suite in Olden Style. Grieg himself, a more than capable pianist, premiered the piano suite just days after the dedication of the memorial. Its great success led Grieg to score it for string orchestra the following year. Both versions enjoy enduring popularity.

    The suite in five sections was intended by Grieg to recall the dance suites from Holberg's lifetime, which corresponded to the period of the Baroque. The Praeludium which opens the work is a section of such simple radiance that it imprints itself unforgettably on the listener's consciousness. The contrasting Sarabande moves soberly, reflectively, and with unfailing elegance. The Gavotte which forms the third section trips beguilingly over the course of its three minutes, yielding to the Andante religioso tempo of the Aria. The final section, a Rigaudon, returns the listener to the buoyant mood of the beginning prelude. Through each of the five sections, the level of invention is matched by a refinement and purity of feeling that marks this as among the most cherishable short works of the late nineteenth century.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Prelude. Allegro vivace
    2. Sarabande. Andante
    3. Gavotte. Allegretto - Poco più mosso - Allegretto
    4. Air. Andante religioso
    5. Rigaudon. Allegro con brio

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 2L 2L130SABD
    2017 ABC Classics
    2015 ABC Classics 4811702
    2015 Pro Organo PO 7267
    2014 Simax / Simax Classics PC 1332
    2014 Es-Dur ES 2024
    2013 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 055
    2011 Decca 4782759
    2011 Linn Records 370
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94046
    2010 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2008 Madacy 52947
    2008 Madacy 52946
    2008 Quartz 2061
    2008 Ars Produktion 38004
    2007 HDC 40300
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93516
    2006 Teldec 3893112
    2006 BIS 1626
    2005 Audio Archive Classics / MediaTag 13
    2005 Bergen 7028
    2005 Centaur Records 2683
    2004 RCA Red Seal 60391
    2001 Tudor Records 773
    2000 Insync Music (INSP Media Group) 4231
    2000 Berlin Classics 0017072
    1996 Norway Music 7028
    1995 Simax 1133
    1995 Centaur Records 2181
    1995 Naxos 550884
    1994 BIS 110
    1993 BMG 61569
    1993 Teldec 92147
    1991 Unicorn-Kanchana 2047
    Labor Records
    Victoria 19028
    Brilliant Classics 93516/11
    Hydro Entertainment 20001
    Quintessence 2029
    Teldec
    Vox 5097
    RCA 69137
    Anber 123
    Pro-Arte Records 929