During the course of his life, Grieg had several unproductive periods due to a chronic illness.
The year 1880 marked the end of one of such periods, and the inspiration came from poet Aasmund Olafsson Vinje, a proud romantic Norwegian nationalist.
Grieg, whose sentiments perfectly aligned with Vinje’s, chose 12 poems to set to music as a song cycle. From those 12, Grieg transcribed two of them for string orchestra: Hjertesår (The Wounded Heart), and Våren (The Last Spring).
Edvard Grieg – 1891
Grieg – Two Elegiac Melodies – Analysis
Hjertesår (The Wounded Heart)
Should you need a score you can find one here.
The first melody speaks about the wounds suffered by the heart in the struggles of life. It begins in a very dark C minor, with the melody played by the first violins. Notice the second violins and violas split into 2, while the basses are absent.
The very first note is for the second violins, on a G pedal. The other half of the second violins, in the low register, double the violas on bar 2 while the second half of the violas double the cellos. The parts are moving in contrary motion, a composing trait that goes way back to the origins of counterpoint. Coupled with the register in which these parts are playing, it contributes to a dark sound stirring emotions from the inside.
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