Grieg's music in popular culture

The music of classical composer Edvard Grieg continues to be relevant in popular culture into the 21st century. This is due to his music's fast pace, instrumentation, and similarity in feel to many popular musical genres. This is not a coincidence, since Grieg was known for taking many of his melodies from Norwegian folk music, [ [ Playrecord web site] ] especially from the western shore area around Bergen. He is quoted as writing, "I am sure my music has the taste of codfish in it." [ Frommer's Norway, p. 274 (3rd ed. 2007) ISBN 978-0-470-10057-8] [The Rough Guide to Norway, p. 215 (4th ed. 2006) ISBN 9-78143-536604.] His music's notability in popular culture is evidenced by the vast number of references to his music in music teaching, cartoons, "pop" concerts, and other forms and media. His music is also notable from conferences about his "Diverse Influences on the Music of the Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries." [See [ University of London Official web site] ]

His music continues to fascinate scholars as well. [ [ iDunn list of recent articles on Grieg's cultural significance] ] He has had much influence on high culture and low, including on Percy Grainger, the Australian folk music composer and collector. [ [ Monash Arts web site] ]

One reason his music is so popular today is that:

Another reason his music is popular is that his is "music that is easy to remember":Pogue, David and Speck, Scott, "Classical Music for Dummies," (IDG Books 1997) ISBN 0-7645-5009-8]

Music education

Grieg's music remains an important part of music education.

Grieg wanted classical music to be accessible, and by appropriating folk music of his native country, he brought it into the classroom and people's homes. For the 150th anniversary of his birth, Norway organized a huge celebration, "Grieg in the Schools", which included programs for children from pre-school to secondary school in 1993. The programs were repeated in 1996 in Germany, and called "Grieg in der Schule", in which over a thousand students participated. There were Grieg observances in 39 countries, from Mexico to Moscow. [ [ MNC Web Site, "Edvard Grieg Remembered"] ]

Further celebrations of Grieg and his music were held in 2007, the 100th anniversary of his death. Bosnia and Herzegovina held a large-scale celebration, featuring "Peer Gynt" and the Piano Concertoon a public concert for children and adults. [ [ Grieg07 - English - Home ] ] [ [ Norveska Official web site for Bosnia-Herzegovina] ] The July 2007 Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference featured Grieg's works. [ [ Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference web site] ] BBC has had Grieg concerts for the Centennial celebration, which unlike the American audiences for PBS, includes persons who like pop music. [ [ BBC schedule log] ]

In the United States, his music is often performed for students. The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Nebraska presented a chamber music concert that featured one of Grieg's string quartets. ["Quartet will 'string' at the Sheldon", by Ted Taylor, "Daily Nebraskan", November 14, 1997 , found at [ Dail Nebraskan web site] ] Annual conferences are held for continuing education of music teachers and music therapists in the United States. [ [ Grieg Music web site] ]

The "New York Times" reviewed one of many concerts for young people with Grieg's music, made popular for today's audiences. "Classical Music in Review ", by Bernard Holland, October 1, 1991, found at [ NY Times official web site] ] The reviewer noted, "Kurt Masur has put youth high on his agenda at the New York Philharmonic, and he was conspicuously present at the orchestra's first Young People's Concert at Avery Fisher Hall on Saturday afternoon.... Children and parents came in fair numbers." However, "the enormous grip of popular culture under which such elements are subsumed and it looks like Mr. Masur and the Philharmonic will have the fight of their lives." Masur the teacher-conductor "wisely called for the Grieg themes about to be heard. His delivery was warm, not without humor and occasionally muddled by struggles with the language." He even "stopped in mid-performance to admire Irene Breslaw's viola solo [in "Peer Gynt"] and to point out its connection to the American hoedown tradition." In conclusion, "The Times" asserted that "the melodies, already identified by instrument, emerged out of the larger mass and did their work. There is a directness in Grieg's music that travels well across cultural divides."

In Saskatchewan, Canada, there is an officially-sanctioned and standardized lesson plan for music teachers that asks children to examine and discuss Grieg's influences in pop music. The plan states explicitly, "Sometimes classical music influences popular music. For example, the musical "Song of Norway" was based on the music of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg." [ [ Arts Education 10, 20, 30 - Module Five: Introduction to Music Projects ] ]


Grieg's music has inspired neopaganists. [ [ Experience Festival web site irminsul page 2] ] The Experience Festival, a neopagan movement program, has an entire links page regarding Grieg on its web site, entitled A Wisdom Archive on Edvard Grieg. [ [ Experience Festival web site, "A Wisdom Archive on Edvard Grieg" web page] ] The movement claims its purpose is "to transform the planet thru an increase in spiritual awareness...." (sic) [ [ Experience Festival web site home page] ]

Grieg is alleged to have created the neopagan neologism Asatru in his 1870 opera "Olaf Tryggvasson". [ [ A Brief Overview of the Heathen Revival web page] ]

References to Grieg's music in popular culture

The Who

The Who made a version on their 1995 remastered album version of "The Who Sell Out".

Peer Gynt

Grieg's most famous piece, the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt, has made frequent appearances in twentieth-century popular culture. "Peer Gynt" served as a basis for the theme of the "Inspector Gadget" animated series [ [ Kickass Classical Composers A-Z] ] . Another piece from "Peer Gynt", "Anitra's Dance", serves as background music in Yuri Markarov's inn in "Quest for Glory IV" [ [ Quest Studios - Sierra Soundtrack Series ] ] . The U.S. metal group Kamelot used the melody of "Solveig's Song" in "Forever", from its album "Karma". The Norwegian metal group Midnattsol also used Solveig's Song in their song "Tapt Av Håp" [ [ Midnattsol: Where Twilight Dwells - Music reviews ] ] .

Morning Mood

"Morning Mood" was a favorite of Carl Stalling who often used it for morning establishing shots in Warner Bros. cartoons. It is now typically associated with Nordic scenes; however, it was meant to depict sunrise over the Sahara Desert. [ [ Steve Hoffman's blog] ] [ [ Spiritus-temporis web site, reference to Carl Stalling] ] [ [ Golden Age of Cartoons Forum] ] [ [ Edvard Grieg on the Experience Festival music web site] ] sells a compilation CD of Cartoon music, "Cartoons Greatest Hits, Various Artists", which includes Stalling's version of "Morning Mood" by Grieg. [ [ web site] ]

"Morning Mood" is also used in Katsuhiro Otomo's animated short film "Construction Cancellation Order", a segment of the 1987 anime anthology film "Neo Tokyo" (aka "Mani Mani Labyrinth Tales"). The film derives a great deal of dark humor from the dissonance between the pastoral splendor of "Morning Mood" and the mechanized chaos and destruction that takes place in the film.

It can also be heard in two episodes of Phineas and Ferb.

In the Hall of the Mountain King

This well-known piece has seen extensive use in movies and commercials, usually in accordance with a dramatic and fantastic or ominous event. [ [ 8notes bio of Grieg] ]

"In the Hall of the Mountain King" was famously used in the 1931 film "M", in which Peter Lorre's character, a serial killer who preys on children, whistles it. [ [ Pauline Kael's Review of this film] , mentioning the essential part of this music.] [ [ discussion on blog] ] [For a further discussion of Grieg's important contribution to this seminal film, see M (film).] As of February 2008, it may be viewed and heard on YouTube. [ [ YouTube clip of M with the music whistled] ]

Cult Spectrum video game Manic Miner includes this as in-game music [ [,1364/ Review of the game Manic Miner ] ] .

Famous British rock band The Who also used "In the Hall of the Mountain King" for their song "Hall of the Mountain King" from their 1967 album "The Who Sell Out". The Who was originally a cover band, and so they did a version of Grieg's 1867 standard. [ [ The Who dot Net web site] ] [ 200th Anniversary celebration of Grieg] ] [ [ NNdB web site] ] Tucson Weekly has called this cover a "Who-freakout arraingment" [ [ Tucson Weekly] ] One reviewer calls The Who's version the "weirdest of these" covers on "The Who Sell Out", and claims it is "a rendition of the corresponding extract from Grieg's Peer Gynt suite ... [yet] it hardly sounds like Grieg here, anyway..." Another claims that "the main function of the composition is to evoke thoughts of (naturally) King Crimson and (unnaturally) Pink Floyd, because in parts it sounds exactly like 'Interstellar Overdrive'. [ [ Only Solitaire] ]

The British Band Apollo 100 used "In the Hall of the Mountain King" as inspiration for their version "Mad Mountain King" on their 1972 album Joy.

The Italian progressive rock band Buon Vecchio Charlie incorporated "In the Hall of the Mountain King" in the track "Venite giù al fiume" on their only album, recorded in 1971. [ [ Buon Vecchio Charlie's "Venite giù al fiume"] ]

The American hard rock band Savatage incorporated "In the Hall of the Mountain King" in the feature track of their 1987 album "Hall of the Mountain King" (Atlantic Records).

In The Hall Of The Mountain King is the piece upon which the theme song from "Inspector Gadget" is based.

A version of "Hall of the Mountain King" also appears on the 2000 album "Cult" by Finnish cello rock band Apocalyptica. [ Almost all the references on Google are in other languages. See [ Google Search for Apocalytica + Grieg] , retrieved August 10, 2007] ]

The UK theme park Alton Towers has used "In the Hall of the Mountain King" in many of their advertisements over the last 15 years and it is often played on speakers at the entrance to the park, on the monorail, and on the skyride, and is used as music in the introductory video played in the Monorail queue line. The company recorded a version of the song as if it were performed by cave men to be used in the new Ug-Land area of the park in 2000. [ [ Themed Music dot Com web site] ]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s Nabisco, an American baked snacks company, featured "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" on many of their commercials.

Hard rock band Rainbow used the theme in their song Hall of the Mountain King. The song also appears during the teaser trailer of Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It is also played over the end credits of the Woody Allen film Scoop.

In the Hall of the Mountain King was also featured in the 1995 video game Return Fire, where the piece would play as the background music when the player used the Armored Support Vehicle.

In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg, and Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov are used in the theme songs and throughout the animated series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.

In the video game Make Bouncy Bouncy, from ByDesign Games, In the Hall of the Mountain King is used in both the game's video trailer and when scoring a bonus multiplier during gameplay. [ [ Make Bouncy Bouncy Official Game Site] ]

In the Hall of the Mountain King is also featured in the intro of the television series The Dudesons.

The vampires in The Lost Boys: The Tribe whistle the tune to this song.

Lamberto Bava's 1985 horror film "Dèmoni" (aka "Demons") includes a title theme by Claudio Simonetti that incorporates the melody of In the Hall of the Mountain King.

Piano Sonata

The motion picture "The First Legion" used Grieg's "Piano Sonata in E minor" as a way to introduce a Jesuit priest's prayer. The priest, Father Fulton, plays the sonata as a way of connecting himself to the other Jesuits, when "forced to revise their standards of belief after experiencing first a makeshift and later a 'real' miracle." [Lutz Koepnick, "The Dark Mirror: German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood", "Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism," 32, found at [ U.C. Press web site] .]

Brothers, Sing on!

The folk song "Brothers, Sing On!" was written by Grieg, with English language lyrics by Herbert Dalmas and/or Howard McKinney. [ University of Northern Iowa Varsity Men’s Glee Club (Brothers Sign On!) official web site] . Accessed May 5, 2008.] [ [ Choralnet ideas web site] . Accessed May 5, 2008.] It is a popular piece for glee clubs' repertoire, [ [ Bowling Green Statue University web site] . Accessed May 5, 2008.] often as the opening number. [The Virginia Glee Club's Finals Concert, Press release, found at [ U of Vorginia Music department web site] . Accessed May 5, 2008.] ["Singing Superintendents Lend Rousing Voices to Final Session," "The Conference Daily", Sunday, March 4, 2007, found at [ American Association of School Administrators web site] . Accessed May 5, 2008.] The Mohawk-Hudson Male Chorus Association (MHMCA) presented a massed concert, with 90 male singers, at the historic Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on May 3, 2008, entitled "Brothers, Sing On!", with the titular song, which was also adopted as the organization's theme song in 1974. ["In 1974 'Brothers, Sing On!,' by Edvard Grieg, was adopted as the organization's theme song." See [ Conductor's Club web site] . Accessed May 5, 2008.] They had previously performed the same song in the same venue in 2002. [ [ BH Singing web site] . Accessed May 5, 2008.]

The University of Northern Iowa has gone so far as to name its web site and to start "every" concert with this song:quote|What if all men, everywhere in the world, could get together and sing? If there was just one song that could be sung, in a true spirit of peace and brotherhood, "Brothers, Sing On!" by Edvard Grieg would be it. "Brothers, Sing On!" is the timeless gem in many men’s choral repertoire. It has been called the ‘international anthem’ of men’s choral singing. For nearly 50 years, "Brothers, Sing On!" has been the mainstay of our Glee Club’s repertoire. We have sung it from the top of Mount Vesuvius; a glacier in the Tyrolean Alps; the ancient castles and underground slate mines of Wales; the deck of a ship on the tossing Irish Sea; the Coliseum in Rome, and a great many places in between. We salute the many excellent men’s choirs throughout the world, especially the collegiate men’s glee clubs, those ‘wandering troubadours’ whom we hope will inspire future generations of singers.|From the Brothers, Sing On! web site.

Other pieces

The musical "Song of Norway", based very loosely on Grieg's life and using his music, was created in 1944 by Robert Wright and George Forrest and a film version was released in 1970. The 1957 movie musical "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" uses Grieg's music almost exclusively, with "In the Hall of the Mountain King" being the melody that the Piper (Van Johnson) plays to rid the town of rats.

The first movement of Grieg's Piano Concerto is used in Adrian Lyne's 1997 film "Lolita" [ [ Lolita (1998) - Cast and Credits - Yahoo! Movies ] ] . The popular British comedy duo Morecambe and Wise featured the Piano Concerto in a famous sketch involving Andre Previn. It also can be heard extensively on Rick Wakeman's (keyboardist with British rock group Yes) album "Journey to the Centre of the Earth". The Simpsons used this piece as well. [ [] ]


ee also

* Ásatrú
* Christian Wicca
* Edvard Grieg
* Finnish Paganism
* Germanic neopaganism
* List of compositions by Edvard Grieg
* Neo-Medieval
* Peer Gynt
* Henrik Ibsen

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