Grieg’s Rambunctious Move


Occasionally an artist becomes too popular for his own good. In his autobiography, Edvard Grieg tells about trying to find a place to put up a hut where he could work undisturbed by his public.

He built on a secluded hill overlooking a fjord, to which there was no visible path, hoping to be free from intruders. But unbeknownst to him an old right-of-way path led right to it. So all winter long, if the weather wasn’t too bad, Grieg heard people tiptoeing around the hut as he worked.

It also turned out that the hut was exposed to powerful winter storms, so that Grieg often thought that he and the hut would go flying into the sky together.

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One day he couldn’t take it anymore. He decided to move the hut to a secluded wooded area down by the fjord, and invited about fifty peasants to assist–their only reward being ale and aqua vitae and edible delicacies. With a loud hurrah, Grieg’s helpers tugged the hut from its foundation. Then they rolled it on tree trunks and dragged it to its new foundation among the birches at the water’s edge. Next, a suspiciously animated group came galloping up with the crated piano.

Those who were not too unaffected by the ale insisted on a concert in the crowded hut. Grieg obliged with a log dance while one listener nearly edged him off the stool and another talked with such gusto that he sprayed the piano keys. A third quickly declared that he had heard quite enough and was literally kicked out of the hut. Grieg could hardly play for laughing.

The newly located hut provided Grieg the longed-for peace and quiet until summer, when tourists discovered it and began parking their boats under the window in order to get a free concert as Norway’s most popular composer tried to work.

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