Solveig’s Song

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Brid­get Mer­mikides ar­ranges and tran­scribes for clas­si­cal gui­tar this beau­ti­ful piece from Grieg’s much cel­e­brated Peer Gynt Suite.

This month we re­turn to the work of the Nor­we­gian Ro­man­tic com­poser Ed­vard Grieg (1843-1907). Grieg adopted many Nor­we­gian folk mu­sic el­e­ments and blended them with the pre­vail­ing 19th century style, and as such is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of a ‘na­tion­al­is­tic’ com­poser. He also hap­pens to be one of the first com­posers to have their work recorded in their life­times, and in fact ar­chive au­dio record­ings ex­ist of him play­ing the piano.

The folk el­e­ments in Grieg’s mu­sic give it a very lyri­cal and rus­tic qual­ity. It’s also highly pro­gram­matic and ac­ces­si­ble, which ex­plains its ex­ten­sive use in TV and film. Here I’ve ar­ranged a piece from Grieg’s in­ci­den­tal mu­sic com­posed from 1874-76 for Hen­rik Ib­sen’s play, Peer Gynt.

Solveig’s Song is from Act IV of the play, and the last piece of the Peer Gynt Suite No.2 – a set of

I’ve trans­posed the piece from the orig­i­nal key of A mi­nor down a 4th to E mi­nor, so it sits bet­ter on the gui­tar.

in­stru­men­tal works drawn from the in­ci­den­tal mu­sic to work as in­de­pen­dent – and hugely pop­u­lar – con­cert ma­te­rial. In the lyrics, the char­ac­ter Solveig sings about her lover, Peer Gynt – who has aban­doned her – and de­clares that she will wait for him and be re­united, even if only in heaven. The melan­choly na­ture of the lyrics is echoed in the beau­ti­ful melody built mainly on a mi­nor scale.

I’ve trans­posed the piece from the orig­i­nal

Ed­vard Greig in an 1888 Lon­don photo por­trait

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