Ballade in the Form of Variations on a Norwegian Folk Song
Key: G Minor
Period: Early Romantic
Piano score: Edition Peters
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Grieg pouring out his soul
The Ballade is composed as a set of variations on an ancient Norwegian mountain tune. Grieg sets the somber, repetitive theme against a chromatic bass-line sliding downward, containing the first eight bars - marked piano and molto legato - within one long slur. The range of expression contained in the 14 variations that follow is astounding. They range from rather simple elaborations of the theme to deeply contrasting and daring excursions into widely differing characters and styles – there are canons, recitative-like passages, a sombre lento, light and witty scherzando variations as well as Lisztian, extremely forceful outbursts. The last four variations are cast as continuous sections of one large Finale.
The juxtaposition of ancient folksong and late-Romantic harmony gives this piece its unique atmosphere, creating the effect of a great abyss of time. The Ballade apparently had a very special emotional meaning for Grieg. He said that it was written “with my life’s blood in days of sorrow and despair.” After his parents’ death in the autumn of 1875, Grieg was in a period of depression which was also caused by problems in his relationship with his wife Nina.
The theme of the Ballade was sung to Kirstine Aas’s poem Den nordlandske bondestand (The North Country Peasantry), and taken by Grieg from Ludwig Matthias Lindeman’s collection Ældre og nyere Fjeldmelodier (Mountain Tunes New and Old), published in 1858. In reality, however, the melody is several hundred years older than that.
Grieg never performed this work in public, but in 1876, he played it in a private performance for Dr. Max Abraham, director of the Peters publishing firm. According to witnesses, he put his entire soul into the interpretation – when he was finished, he was completely exhausted, and so agitated and shaken that he could not say a word for a long time afterwards.
Ballade in the Form of Variations on a Norwegian Folk Song Op. 24 in G Minor (published in 1875) by Edvard Grieg - piano sheet music to download and print instantly.
Ballade in the Form of Variations on a Norwegian Folk Song in G Minor - Op. 24 is a piano piece by the early romantic composer Edvard Grieg who lived between the years 1843 and 1907.
The composition was first published in 1875 and is included in Miscellaneous pieces by Grieg.