The final installment in Grieg's sets of Lyric Pieces
comes very late in the composer's output in 1901, a
time where illness kept him largely confined to his
home, Troldhaugen, outside Bergen. In a September 1902
letter to American critic (and later, Grieg biographer)
Henry T. Finck, Grieg writes:
"...if I told you that I was not composing anymore,
this must not be taken literally. Last Christmas there
appeared the tenth volume of Lyric Pieces. Soon all the
ten parts will be published in a sumptuous volume by
With the printing of all ten sets together, Grieg seems
to have been satisfied that he'd completed his work in
this realm, and was probably glad to make a final break
with the genre.
The tenth set of Lyric Pieces was published as Op. 71
and is dedicated to Mrs. Mien Röntgen, wife of the
composer Julius Röntgen, dedicatee of the fifth set of
Lyric Pieces, Op. 54. The opening "Der var engang"
(Once Upon a Time) is in the form of a mini-tone poem.
The outer sections are in the nature of a Swedish folk
song, harmonized as a quiet chorale. The middle section
is a lively Norwegian spring dance set in Grieg's best
folk dance idiom, with bare fifths and subtle adjacent
tones spelling out both accompaniment and rhythm.
"Sommeraften" (Summer Evening) is a nocturnal
reminiscence that bears resemblance to then-emerging
trends in French music. "Småtrold" (Little Troll)
returns to the musical terrain that Grieg famously
explored in "March of the Trolls" from Op. 54.
"Skovstilhed" (Still Woods) is likewise reflective; a
quiet forest scene in a manner that recalls the music
of Robert Schumann. The "Halling" that follows is one
of the best known examples of this 2/4 Norwegian dance
that Grieg composed. Here, as in "Summer evening," the
French sound is alluded to, particularly in a
remarkable passage where the C major dance rhythm is
interrupted by an insistent D flat pedal tone. "Forbi"
(Gone) is subtitled "In Memoriam," specifically to whom
is apparently not a matter of record. However several
of Grieg's closet confederates died in 1900 - 1901,
including his publisher Max Abraham, composer and close
friend J.P.E. Hartmann, Grieg's brother John, and his
father-in-law Herman Hagerup. Clearly expressive of
deep sorrow, "In Memoriam" is scored in E minor, and it
is one of the most chromatic and harmonically
unpredictable of all Grieg's works. In this piece the
listener experiences a mood hinted at in several of
Grieg's letters of this time: "It is as if this
beautiful old word 'saga' acquires a new and deeper
meaning for me as my own life belongs more and more to
the past. Soon everything will be saga, saga!"
"Efterklang" (Remembrances) is a wistful and simple
waltz that paraphrases the melody of the Op. 12, No. 1
"Arietta," the first of the Lyric Pieces. With this
Grieg brings his Lyric piano cycle full circle, and to
Although originally written for Piano, I created this
Interpretation of "Småtroll" (Puck) from Lyric Pieces
(Book X Op. 71 No. 3) for Woodwind Quintet (Flute,
Oboe, Bb Clarinet, French Horn & Bassoon).