Violin Sonatas (Grieg)

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Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg wrote three violin sonatas. They are all examples of his musical nationalism, since they all contain references or similarities to Norwegian folk song.

The three Sonatas for violin and piano by Edvard Grieg were written between 1865 and 1887.

  • Violin Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 8 was written in Copenhagen in 1865.
  • Violin Sonata No. 2 in G major, Op. 13 was written in Oslo (then Christiania) in 1867.
  • Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45 was completed while Grieg was living in Troldhaugen in 1887.

Violin Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 8[edit]

Grieg composed this sonata in the summer of 1865 while on holiday with Benjamin Feddersen in Rungsted, Denmark, near Copenhagen. The piece was composed shortly after his only piano sonata was completed that same summer.[1]

Concerning the piece, Norwegian composer Gerhard Schjelderup commented: it is "the work of a youth who has seen only the sunny side of life."[2] Despite this, many sections of the work are quite dark and turbulent.

The violin's opening theme in the first movement runs thus:

Grieg1viol.png  : 1st mvt, violin, primary theme

Violin Sonata No. 2 in G major, Op. 13[edit]

This sonata was dedicated to Norwegian composer and violinist Johan Svendsen.[3]

On the second sonata, Schjelderup remarked: it is "the gift to the world of a man who has also shivered in the cold mists of night." Also, due to the sonata's tragic qualities, he considered the piece more Norwegian than the first sonata and "a Norway without tragedy is not a complete Norway."[4]

When Grieg presented the sonata to his teacher Niels Gade, he proclaimed the work "too Norwegian" and professed that his next sonata should be less Norwegian. Grieg, reportedly, in defiance claimed that his next sonata would be even more Norwegian.[1]

First movement[edit]

Introduction (G minor)

\new PianoStaff \with { connectArpeggios = ##t } <<
  \new Staff = "up" { \relative c'' { \key g \minor \time 2/4 \clef treble
    \override Score.MetronomeMark #'padding = #4
    \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo "Lento doloroso" 4 = 32
    \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"acoustic grand"
    \stemUp
    \once \override PhrasingSlur #'control-points = #'((0.69 . 4.69) (16.9 . 6.9) (69 . 6.9) (69 . -4))
    <g d'>4--(^\( q8-- q--) |
    \override TupletBracket #'stencil = ##f
    \override TupletNumber #'Y-offset = #-2
    \times 2/3 { <fis d'>16\arpeggio bes c } a8 ~ a16 bes32-- c-- bes-- a-- g-- fis-- |
    \change Staff = "down"
    <bes, d>4^-^( q^- | q2^-)\)
  }}
  \new Dynamics { s2\p }
  \new Staff = "down" { \relative c' { \key g \minor \time 2/4 \clef bass
    \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"acoustic grand"
    \stemDown
    <g bes d>4--( q8-- q--) |
    <c, g' a es'>8\arpeggio r r4
    <g d' g>4 q | q2
  }}
  \new Dynamics { s2 s16\sustainOn s4..\sustainOff s2\sustainOn s\sustainOff }
>>
1st theme (G major)

\relative c''' {
  \key g \major \time 3/4 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo "(Allegro vivace)" 4 = 178
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #67 \bar ""
  \override Score.SpacingSpanner #'common-shortest-duration = #(ly:make-moment 1 9)

  \override TupletBracket #'stencil = ##f
  \override TupletNumber #'Y-offset = #4.5
  \times 2/3 { g8(\f a c) } b4.( a8) |
  \times 2/3 { g( a fis) } d4.( fis8) |
  g[ r16 a( b8) r16 a( g8) r16 b]( |
  d8[) r16 b]( a2) |
}
2nd theme (B minor)

\relative c' \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" } {
  \key g \major \time 3/4 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4 = 144
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #88 \bar ""

  r4 r fis_\markup { \dynamic p \italic { "tranquillo ed espress." } } |
  b2( cis4) | ais2( fis4) | b4.( d8\< cis4) | ais2( fis4) | b4.( d8 cis4) | ais( fis ais) | a!2.( | fis'4)\! r
}
3rd theme (D major)

\relative c'' \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" } {
  \key g \major \time 3/4 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4 = 178
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #135 \bar ""
  \override Score.SpacingSpanner #'common-shortest-duration = #(ly:make-moment 1 9)

  d8-.[\pp^\markup { \italic "a tempo" } r16 e%?
    ( d8) r16 cis( a4)]-- |
  d8-.[ r16 e( d8) r16 cis( a4)]-- |
  d,8[ r16 e( d8) r16 cis( b8) r16 d16(] |
  cis8)[ r16 e( b8) r16 cis]( a8)-. r |
}

Second movement[edit]

Theme (E minor)

\relative c'' \new Staff {
  \key e \minor \time 3/4 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo "(Allegretto tranquillo)" 4 = 60
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #9 \bar ""
  \override Score.SpacingSpanner #'common-shortest-duration = #(ly:make-moment 1 5)

  b8.(\p^\markup { \fontsize #-1 \column { "sul D" \italic "cantabile" }} c16 b4 e) |
  d8.( e16 d4 b) | g8.( a16 g4 c) | \times 4/5 { c16( b g e g } b2) |
  b8.(^\markup { \fontsize #-1 "sul A" } c16) b4( e) |
  b8.(\< cis16) b4( g) | g'4\> ~ \times 2/3 { g8 fis e } \times 2/3 { g, b a\! } | \acciaccatura { b8 } a4-. g2-- |
}

Third movement[edit]

1st theme (G major to D major)

\relative c'' \new Staff {
  \key g \major \time 3/4 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo "(Allegro animato)" 4 = 180
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #5 \bar ""
  \set tupletSpannerDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1 4)
  \override TupletBracket #'direction = #1

  d2.--\mf | d-- | \times 2/3 { d8 g a } b4. ( a8) |
  \times 2/3 { g( a g) e( g e) d( e d) |
    \once \override TupletBracket #'Y-offset = #1.5 b( d b) g( b g) fis( a fis) |
  \override Hairpin #'to-barline = ##f
  e( a cis) } d r d'4\sf\> ~ d2\!
}
2nd theme (E major)

\relative c'' \new Staff {
  \key es \major \time 3/4 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4 = 166
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #117 \bar ""

  bes2._\markup { \dynamic p \italic "(tranquillo)" } | c8-- d-- es2-- | \slashedGrace { es8 } d8-- c-- bes2-- | \slashedGrace { bes8 } as8-- g-- f2-- |
  \slashedGrace { f8 } bes,4. ( g'8 es4) | c'2( g'4) | f2.( | es4) r r |
}

Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45[edit]

Grieg began composing his third and final violin sonata in the autumn of 1886. Whereas the first two sonatas were written in a matter of weeks, this sonata took him several months to complete.[5]

The sonata remains the most popular of the three works, and has established itself in the standard repertoire. The work was also a personal favorite of Grieg's. The sonata premiered with Grieg himself at the piano with well-known violinist Adolf Brodsky in Leipzig. To a certain extent, Grieg built on Norwegian folk melodies and rhythms in this three-movement sonata. However, Grieg considered the second sonata as the "Norwegian" sonata, while the third sonata was "the one with the broader horizon."[6]

This was the last piece Grieg composed using sonata form.[7]

First movement[edit]

The first movement is characterized by its bold and heroic introduction. The agitated opening theme is contrasted with a lyrical second theme.

Introduction (C minor)

<<
  \relative c' \new Staff {
    \key c \minor \time 6/8 \clef treble
    \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
    \tempo "Allegro molto ed appassionato." 4. = 116

    c8.^>(\f b16 c d) es8.^>( d16 c b) | g8.^>( b16 c es) g8-.^> r r | R2. |
  }
  \new PianoStaff <<
    \new Staff = "up" \relative c { \key c \minor \clef treble
      \voiceOne
      \change Staff = "down" <es g c>2.-> ~ | q4. ~ q8 \oneVoice
        \change Staff = "up" r8 r16 <c' f as c> |
      q4.-> <c es g>8 r r |
    }
    \new Dynamics { s2.\f }
    \new Staff = "down" \relative c, { \key c \minor \clef bass
      \voiceTwo
      <c g' c>2. ~ | q4. ~ q8 \oneVoice r r16 <f c' as'> |
      q4.-> <c' g'>8 r r |
    }
    \new Dynamics { s2._\markup \right-align { \italic "con" \musicglyph #"pedal.Ped" } }
  >>
>>
1st theme (C minor to G major)

\relative c' \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" } {
  \key c \minor \time 6/8 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4. = 116
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #23 \bar ""
  \mark A

  g4.(_\markup { \dynamic p \italic "cantabile" }^\markup { \fontsize #-1 "sul G" } b4 ~ b16 c) |
    d4.( b4 g8) | c4.( e4 ~ e16 f) | g2. |
  d4.( fis4 ~ fis16 g) | a4.( fis4 d8) | g4.(^\markup { \fontsize #-1 "sul D" } b4\cresc ~ b16 c) | d2.\! |
}
2nd theme (E major)

\relative c'' \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" } {
  \key c \minor \time 6/8 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4. = 116
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #59 \bar ""

  \once \override Hairpin #'to-barline = ##f
  g2.(\p\<^\markup \italic "cantabile" | bes)\> | g4.\! \acciaccatura { f16[ g] } f8\< es g\! | bes2.\> |
  g4.--(\! g--) | g(\< \grace { f16[ g] } f4 es8)\! |
  \once \override Hairpin #'to-barline = ##f
  f2.(\> | bes)\! |
}

Second movement[edit]

The second movement opens with a serene piano solo in E major with a lyrical melodic line. In the middle section, Grieg uses a playful dance tune.

1st theme (E major)

\relative c' \new Staff {
  \key e \major \time 2/4 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \tempo "(Allegretto espressivo alla Romanza.)" 4 = 72
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #44 \bar ""

  r4 e_\markup { \dynamic p \italic "cantabile" }^\markup { \fontsize #-1 "sul D" } | gis8 a b4 ~ | b a8 gis | gis4( fis) ~ | fis dis |
  e8 fis gis4 ~ | gis e8 dis | b2 ~ | b4
}
2nd theme (E minor)

\relative c'' \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" } {
  \key e \minor \time 2/4 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \tempo "Allegro molto." 2 = 80
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #89 \bar ""

  b4->_\markup { \dynamic pp \italic "ma poco marcato" } b-> | b-> b-> | b16-. cis-. dis-. cis-. dis8-. cis16-. dis-. | b2 |
  e4-> e-> | e-> e-> | e16-. fis-. g-. fis-. g8-. fis16-. g-. | e2 |
}

Third movement[edit]

The finale is written in sonata form with coda but lacks a development section.[5]

1st theme (C minor)

\relative c'' \new Staff {
  \key c \minor \time 2/2 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \tempo "(Allegro animato.)" 2 = 104
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #2 \bar ""

  r2 r4 g-.\p_\markup { \italic "spiccato" } | g-.^> c,-. c-. g'^. | g-.^> c,-. c-. g'^. |
  g^> as8 g es f g4-. | g2^> ~ g4
}
2nd theme (A major)

\relative c' \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" } {
  \key as \major \time 2/2 \clef treble
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
  \tempo "Cantabile." 2 = 92
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #113 \bar ""
  %\override Score.SpacingSpanner #'common-shortest-duration = #(ly:make-moment 1 2)

  c1\p ~ | c2 bes4( as) | c1\< ~ | c2 bes4(\! as) | des1-- | c--\> | ces--\! ~ | ces2 r | \break
  es1 ~ | es2 des4(\< ces) | es1 ~ | es2\! des4( ces) | bes1( ~ | bes4\> as) g as\! | bes1 ~ | bes2 r |
}

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Henry Theophilus Finck. Grieg and His Music. (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1922), 36-39.
  2. ^ Finck. 195.
  3. ^ Finck. 58.
  4. ^ Finck. 195.
  5. ^ a b Chris Woodstra, et al. All music Guide to Classical Music: The Definitive Guide to Classical Music. (San Francisco, CA: Backbeat Books, 2005). 531.
  6. ^ Oelmann, Klaus Henning (1993): Edvard Grieg - Versuch einer Orientierung. Egelsbach Köln New York: Verlag Hänsel-Hohenhausen 1993, pp. 117, 366-373
  7. ^ Finck. 238. The sole notable exception is perhaps his String Quartet No. 2 in F major, EG 117 (1891), whose first two movements Grieg more or less finished in 1891 (and whose second pair he returned to in 1906 in another failed attempt. His friend Julius Röntgen prepared an edition for Peters of the two movements Grieg finished, after Grieg's death, which were premiered at his home in November 1907 and published by Peters in 1908 (http://www.griegsociety.org/default.asp?kat=1022&id=4767&sp=2 ).)

External links[edit]