Learn about the life of Edvard Grieg’s wife, Nina Hagerup Grieg, as we delve into how “her roles as caretaker, muse, wife, and critic contributed in immeasurable ways to Norwegian musical culture of the nineteenth century.”
Love and Care in the Artistic Marriage
Married at a young age, Nina Hagerup Grieg first achieved an extensive musical education. Though she rarely performed independently after her marriage, music played an enormous role in her life, particularly in her relationship with her husband, the composer Edvard Grieg. The two became engaged while playing a four-hand piano arrangement of Robert Schumann’s Spring Symphony, many of his vocal works were written for her to perform, and she toured and performed with him on several occasions, including a very successful run of concerts in London. Yet possibly the most important contribution that she made to Norwegian musical culture was her supportive labor, her care and household management, without which the often ill Edvard may not have had the means to produce his compositions. This is not intended to underplay her creative merits, which were many. She was valued in their musical circles as a performer for her ability to interpret songs in deeply meaningful ways. Edvard said that she was the “one true interpreter of my songs” and that he wished to have realized her potential as a performer earlier, when it could have done even more benefit to his career. Yet this ignores the ways in which her work as a supportive spouse made his career possible. Nina in her roles as caretaker, muse, wife, and critic contributed in immeasurable ways to Norwegian musical culture of the nineteenth century.
About the Speaker
Solveig Mebust is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota in the field of Historical Musicology with a minor in Feminist and Critical Sexuality Studies. Her research focuses on the contributions of women to music culture in Norway in the nineteenth century, a feminist perspective that includes work on activists, performers, composers, publishers, muses, spinsters, wives, crafters, and spiritualists. Much of this work has been funded by the US-Norway Fulbright Foundation and the Minneapolis chapter of Torske Klubben. She has a BM in Music Education from Augsburg University and teaches music locally through Cadenza Music in Saint Paul.