To most of the concert-going public, Edvard Grieg is
only familiar as the composer of two fabulously popular
concert works: the Concerto for piano and orchestra,
and the first Orchestral Suite extracted from the
incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play, Peer Gynt.
Ever since the Peer Gynt Suite No.1, Op.46 appeared in
the late 1880s it has been a staple of the orchestral
repertory. Indeed, it is safe to say that its four
constituent pieces are among the most frequently played
and immediately recognizable ever written; yet, in a
good performance, they still retain a great deal of
their original vitality and freshness.
Ibsen's five-act drama concerns a young Norwegian
ruffian named Peer Gynt, who dreams of becoming emperor
of the world. His sundry adventures--abducting a
bride-to-be during her wedding, abandoning her for
another woman, being tormented by gnomes, posturing as
a prophet among the Arabs, eloping with and being
subsequently double-crossed by an Arab princess, and
finally returning to Norway--are the stuff of high
drama and adventure, and are rough and isolated in a
way that is peculiarly Nordic. Grieg captures this tone
After a single, magical E major chord, "Anitra's Dance"
begins with a buoyant violin melody over a compelling
pizzicato background. This little theme is taken
through several small harmonic adventures during the
middle of the dance (including a warm and welcome,
albeit brief, pass through D major). During the reprise
of the opening section Grieg allows for some melodic
imitation by the celli.
Although originally created for Orchestra, I created
this arrangement of the "Anitra's Dance" for Oboe &
Strings (Violins, Violas, Cellos & Bass).