Some Considerations

by Øyvind Norheim (Norsk musikksamling, Nasjonalbiblioteket)

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Some Considerations

Øyvind Norheim (Norsk musikksamling, Nasjonalbiblioteket)


When in 1980 Dan Fog published his Grieg-Katalog. Verzeichnis der im Druck erschienenen Kompositionen von Edvard Grieg (København: Dan Fog Musikforlag, 1980) he himself described it as "... eine vorläufige Arbeit" [a preliminary work] (preface, p. 7), continued: "Sie entstand 1965 in Zusammenhang mit den Vorarbeiten zu der Grieg-Gesamt-Ausgabe. Zahlreiche Anfragen haben einen Bedarf für eine Übersicht über das Schaffen Griegs gezeigt, und aus diesem Grund wird diese kleine Arbeit jetzt veröffentlicht. Es bleibt die Absicht, dass sie Später nach Fertigstellung der Gesamt-Ausgabe von einem eigentlichen thematisch-bibliographische Katalog abgelöst werden soll" [It appeared in 1965 in connection with preparatory work on the Grieg Gesamtausgabe. Numerous enquiries have shown a need for a survey of Grieg's creative output, and it is on this basis that this small work is now published. The intention remainds to replace it with a proper thematic-bibliographic catalogue once the collected works edition is complete]. Dan Fog takes account only of Grieg's published œuvre, and does not give any information about the autograph sources or their locations. He lists the compositions by opus numbers (1-74) and uses the numbers from 101 for those works that were published without opus numbers, while 201-205 and 207-218 are used for collections of songs and instrumental music respectively. The figures indicating works without opus numbers have since then normally been used with the prefix "EG" (such as "EG 147", which in Dan Fog's catalog is the composition Valgsang [Election Song]). For each work Fog quotes the wording of the title page of the first edition with information about year of publication, plate number, edition number, co-publishers, later printings with differences in the title, later editions with new plate numbers, arrangements, and so on.

In the same year as Fog published his catalog, two other members of the Edvard Grieg Committee [hereafter EGC]  (1) published a book about Grieg's life and work: this was Finn Benestad and Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe's Edvard Grieg. Mennesket og kunstneren.  (2)  In their book the authors incorporated a thematic list of works with information about publishers and year of publication of first editions, but with no other bibliographic information. It is noteworthy however that the numbers they assigned to the compositions without opus number are sometimes different from those used by Dan Fog (thus Valgsang is listed by Benestad and Schjelderup-Ebbe as EG 122). When the last volume of the GGA came out in 1995  (3)  the members of the EGC had finally come to an agreement with respect to the EG-numbers, and on p. 156ff. of this volume they presented a third-and final-list of Grieg's compositions without opus number (Valgsang was here assigned the EG number 149).

The first attempt to make a comprehensive listing of Edvard Grieg's compositions was however made as early as 1885, when the Norwegian music publisher and dealer Petter Håkonsen issued Fuldstændig Fortegnelse over Edvard Griegs Kompositioner [A Complete List of Edvard Grieg's Compositions]. All compositions by Grieg published up to 1885 are included. Prices are given, but there is no information about publishers or dates of composition or publishing. Some years later (ca 1893) Wilhelm Hansen in Copenhagen published a list with their own Grieg editions, as Kompositioner af Edvard Grieg; while in 1898 Edition Peters put their Katalog der Compositionen von Edvard Grieg on to the market (the first nine pages of this forty-three page catalog were occupied by a biography of Grieg by La Mara). In 1908, just after Grieg's death, C. F. Peters started the preparation of a new complete catalog of their editions of Grieg's compositions. It was eventually published in 1910 as Edvard Grieg. Verzeichnis seiner Werke mit Einleitung: Mein erster Erfolg, and in 1927 it was extended by a seven-page Nachtrag. Both catalogs (1898 and 1910/1927) give only information about edition numbers (= order numbers) and prices.

In 1943 Øystein Gaukstad, librarian at the Royal University Library in Oslo, compiled a list of works together with a bibliography of literature about Grieg, a listing of Grieg's own articles and an attempt to give an overview of his activities as a performer, just in time for the centenary of Grieg's birth: this was "Edvard Grieg 1843-1943. En bibliografi".  (4)  The worklist and the bibliography, limited though they are, are filled to the brim with information. Unfortunately much of Gaukstad's information on editions of a particular work is not always based on inspection of the physical copies of that work, but is gathered from various secondhand sources. New, however, is Gaukstad's inclusion of information about unpublished works, as well as lost compositions.

In this overview two exhibition catalogs are also of some importance. Both originated from exhibitions in Grieg's home town of Bergen in 1953  (5)  and 1962  (6)  . The 1953 catalog also contained a complete listing of the autographs in the Grieg Collection at the Bergen Public Library and in the National Music Collection at the Royal University Library in Oslo.  (7)  The Grieg Collection is of course the world's most important holder of Grieg autographs, but the National Music Collection in Oslo also houses some very important items. In 1986 the Grieg Collection published an important listing of nearly all the autographs in its possession. This list comprises 115 autographs (music manuscripts) that were mostly in Grieg's possession when he died,  (8)  together with twenty-nine autographs acquired by the Norwegian Government in 1986 from the estate of Walter Hinrichsen in New York.

Dan Fog was the first Grieg bibliographer who understood that in order to decide what is the first printing (issue) of the first edition of a work, one has to examine as many different copies of that edition as possible: it is not always sufficient to find a copy with the "right" plate number. And to establish the first printing of the first edition as well as the order of the subsequent printings and later editions is crucial to the results presented in a scholarly edition of a composers œuvre.  (9)  As is stated in the epilogue to GGA 20, "The guiding principle [for the GGA] has been to present Grieg's compositions in their entirety, based on the composer's final conceptions of his works as far as this has been possible to determine. The primary source for the publication of each single work has been the last printing during Grieg's lifetime for which he himself was responsible. [...] An attempt has been made to show the compositional process through various stages by detailed comparisons between manuscript(s), if available, the first printing and subsequent editions". One might be tempted to maintain that the basis of a scholarly edition like the GGA should be a scholarly catalog of the composer's works, thematic or not. On the other hand, after the conclusion of such an edition as the GGA, a (new) catalog of the composer's works will often be necessary. Therefore in 1995 when the last volume of GGA was published the EGC decided that a new thematic catalog should be prepared, and Dan Fog was put in charge of the work with the assistance of Kirsti Grinde and this author, both working at the National Music Collection of the National Library of Norway. The main objectives of the Edvard Grieg thematic catalog are:

  • To determine not only what is the first edition, but what is the first printing (i.e. impression) of the first edition of a particular work. Our hope is, furthermore, to include a photograph of the title page of the first edition (or editions, in cases where the work in question was published simultaneously, or nearly simultaneously, by two different publishers).

  • To account for (i.e. to identify) as many different new printings and new editions of each work as possible within Grieg's lifetime.

  • To give a selective listing of editions by publishers other than those with whom Grieg himself had a relationship, since this will give an impression of how widely Grieg's music was disseminated (this part of the project is again confined to Grieg's lifetime).

  • To describe and give the location of primary sources such as autographs, printed copies corrected by Grieg or on his instructions, and so on.

Before his death in Autumn 2000 Dan Fog had prepared much of the basic material needed to complete the catalog, even though a lot of work was left behind for us to do. Very soon we discovered, as Dan Fog had already prepared us for, that all the bibliographic information in GGA had to be re-evaluated. As one example where the Grieg thematic catalog differs from the GGA in establishing the first edition of a work we will here give an account of the evaluation of the vocal score of op. 50, Scenes from Olav Trygvason. In the GGA, vol. 19, p. 237, we are told: "First edition: C. F. Peters, Leipzig, [1890], 85 pages, Parisian format, 7339 (EP no. 2438). From p. 43 to 58 the plate number is for no apparent reason changed to 7139. This erroneous plate number was used in later editions on all pages". This statement raises a couple of questions. Most important: Why was a correct plate number changed into a false one "... in later editions on all pages"? My colleague Kirsti Grinde and I have had the opportunity to look into the different registers of Edition Peters in Leipzig,  (10)  and the information we could read out of these registers, together with the close inspection of a large number of printed copies, provides a perfectly simple solution to the mysteries mentioned in the GGA 19. First of all: the correct plate number is 7139. The first impression of the first edition was printed with the incorrect number 7339 on all its pages. This issue (or state?) with plate number 7339 printed on all pages is not mentioned in GGA 19, even though it is actually the first edition. The printing date is furthermore November 1889 (500 copies). This can be verified by a letter from Max Abraham to Grieg of 26 October 1889, where he says: "Der Kl.A. zu O T ist gestochen. Wenn nur die Correctur nicht wäre" [The vocal score of O[lav] T[rygvason] is engraved. If only there were no corrections].  (11)  But Grieg was not satisfied with the translations, and he made several changes to the translation, as well as some changes to the music, which led to the copy described in GGA 19. Abraham did not want to throw away all the 500 copies of the first impression and therefore replaced the pages on which Grieg had made changes with new corrected pages, also of course bearing the correct plate number (7139): this occurs on the text pages 1-4, and on the music pages 19-20 and 43-58. The next impression took place in February 1891, at which time the correct plate number (7139) was printed on all pages. In the catalog we have chosen to use the term "new edition" for these printings because of the substantial changes within the publication. It is one thing to set these things straight, but more important are the possibilities this will raise to follow Grieg and his publisher's work with the musical text along the road towards the composer's "final conception ...".



  1. The Edvard Grieg Committee was founded in 1962 on the initiative of Dan Fog, the Bergen Public Library's Chief Librarian Johannes Bygstad and Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe, who later was to become Professor of Musicology at Oslo University. The main objective of the committee was the edition of Edvard Grieg's complete works [GGA], which was published in twenty volumes by C. F. Peters in Frankfurt am Main, 1977-95.

  2. [Edvard Grieg. The Man and the Artist] Published Oslo: Aschehoug, 1980. A second, revised Norwegian edition was published in 1990; a Russian edition in 1986 (published Moscow: Raduga); an English edition in 1988 (Gloucester: Alan Sutton); and a German edition in 1993 (Leipzig: Deutscher Verlag für Musik).

  3. Edvard Grieg Complete Works. 20: Addenda, corrigenda, catalogues of works and indices, ed. Rune J. Andersen, Finn Benestad and Klaus Henning Oelmann (Frankfurt: C. F. Peters).

  4. In Norsk musikkgranskning, 1942 (published 1943):27-47.

  5. Edvard Grieg. Manuskripter og minner [Edvard Grieg. Manuscripts and Memorabilia.] Utstilling i Bergens kunstforening 29. mai - 15. juni 1953. Katalog. Bergen: Bergens kunstforening, 1953. [Edvard Grieg. Manuscripts and memorabilia.]

  6. Edvard Grieg. Manuskripter, førsteutgaver, brev, Griegminner [Edvard Grieg. Manuscripts, First Editions, Letters, Memorabilia.]. Utstilling 22. mai - 7. juni 1962. Bergen: Bergen offentlige bibliotek, 1962. 

  7. The 1962 exhibition was the direct cause to the establishment of the Edvard Grieg Committee.

  8. Grieg bequeathed his manuscripts, letters, scores and other items of musical interest to Bergen Public Library.

  9. A new edition is usually a printing from new plates (a new plate number will normally be printed on each page). A new printing may, however, be regarded as a new edition if there have been substantial changes to the musical text. A printing where changes are confined to the title page or to the pages preceding the first page of music is regarded as a new issue (Titelauflage).

  10. The archives of Edition Peters in Leipzig are now kept in the Sächsische Staatsarchiv, Leipzig.

  11. Edvard Grieg. Briefwechsel mit dem Musikverlag C. F. Peters 1863-1907, ed. Finn Benestad and Hella Brock (Frankfurt am Main: C. F. Peters, 1997), 208.




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