Edvard Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite Number 1

Growing up in Indiana in the 1960s, I lived across the street from my elementary school. Beside it stood the junior high school, which was a big red brick monstrosity that my mother, who was born in 1915, also attended. One day, in first or second grade, our teacher marched us from our classroom into the old gymnasium of the junior high school to watch a puppet show. It was a production of “Jason and the Golden Fleece.” Puppets always unnerved me, and these were just as grotesque as any I’ve ever seen, but the production had one saving grace–the music.

The puppeteer had chosen the incidental music from Peer Gynt. Over the years, I’ve heard “In the Hall of The Mountain King” so many times that it became almost hackneyed. Then one day, about 15 years ago, it came on the local classical station, and my two daughters perked up. Suddenly, I remembered the excitement that permeates that music and how masterfully it builds from a quiet dance into a thundering cataclysm. They loved the piece and were happy to learn I owned a copy of it. Though the Spanish Philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno said “to fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be,” some pieces of music you can listen to forever. Maybe a better quote is by the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who said: “You can’t step into the same river twice.” Let this music wash over you.


About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

2 Responses to Edvard Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite Number 1

  1. Knot Telling says:

    (I had a hard time finding the comment box!)

    As you know, this is one of the first pieces of music I knew and loved. For over fifty years now I’ve been listening to it, “conducting” it (at my desk), dancing to it (in the privacy of my home). I am so glad your daughters came to enjoy it an early age, too.


    • kurtnemes says:

      Hi. Thanks, Knot. I’ll poke around with the wordpress template to see why it’s so hard to find the comment box. I just installed it a few weeks ago, so… I can just picture you conducting it at your desk. About 30 years ago, I actually saw the entire piece performed with a cast at the opera house in Naples. The suite is wonderful and the full piece is wonderfuller! It has some incredibly moving music in it, which I intend to write about in a later piece–describing the visit to the Neapolitan opera house. Take good care!


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