Peer Gynt (1867) by Henrik Ibsen marks the end of romantic nationalism in Norway. In 1874 Edvard Grieg was asked to compose music for the play (or rather, was given a lot of cash to ditch a less profitable project with Norwegian author Björnstierne Björnson). As Ibsen's play grew on him, he complained to his friend Frants Beyer; "It is an immensely difficult subject, and I've done something to the Mountain King, that I myself find unable to listen to - it reeks of cow-dung, Norwegian-Norwegianess and absorbed in it's own Norwegianess! But I expect the irony to be pungent, especially when Peer, after the ordeal with the Mountain King utters against his will 'Both the dance and the playing was [cat scratchily] beautiful.'"
Alas, the irony did not seep through - and Grieg managed to get himself a huge audience and a nice reputation as a composer. Nonetheless, he refused to be present at the opening night in 1876, including the rehearsals, and he never bothered to have the music printed. Grieg
was said to be a square (and even a pentahedron). He supposedly referred to a conductor as pig-face, and called a poor oboist a "fucking klutz." Even his own work got in his face, and on occasion, he referred to his lyrical pieces as "bugs and lice." He referred to his own composition Sangerhilsen as a "piece of shit!"
The 5th of October this year, New York found itself infected with trolls in Central Park. Actors and hordes of extras were flown in to play Peer Gynt for 3 days, with a budget of $1.3 million. Anne Midgette from the New York Times has a wonderful review on that occasion.
How many versions of this theme have been made, and how many more compositions have been "inspired" by it? I'll try to give you a few examples. Follow the jump for 36 downloadable MP3s:
For the real connoisseur (or just Black Metal fans studying Norwegian):
Peer Gynt (the play) by Henrik Ibsen - in Norwegian; part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5 - part 6 - part 7 - part 8 - part 9 - part 10 - made in 1952.