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Funeral March
   

Funeral March

Grieg, Edvard

Arr. Olson, Gary

$18.00


  • Ensemble: Brass Quintet
  • Genre: Classical
  • Grade: 4
  • Duration: 6.0 minutes
  • Catalog Number: DB-CAN0105

Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway on June 15, 1843 and died on September 3, 1907 after a long and illustrious career. As a child he was schooled in the German and Danish musical tradition by his mother, a well-known pianist, and his father, an amateur musician. At age six he started piano lessons, and by age fifteen was enrolled in the Leipzig Conservatory. The following year he experienced a serious bout of pleurisy (probably tuberculosis) which destroyed his left lung. Respiratory problems plagued him for the rest of his life and eventually led to his death forty-eight years later from a type of heart and lung failure known to physicians as cor pulmonale. By the time that he left the conservatory, his middle class upbringing had been supplemented by a thorough schooling in the music of the German classic and romantic periods.

In 1864 Grieg met Rikard Nordraak who inspired him with a vibrant enthusiasm for Norwegian music, which had been previously ignored by Grieg and most other serious musicians. This meeting had a tremendous impact on Grieg's own great future as a composer. It is tempting to speculate that Nordraak gave Grieg the inspiration which made him great, and that Grieg gave Nordraak tuberculosis, which was eventually the death of them both.

Rikard Nordraak (1842-1866) is best known as the composer of the Norwegian National Anthem. He was an exuberant, charismatic advocate of Norway and its musical heritage, and, unlike Grieg, was thouroughly immersed in this tradition even while studying the German classics in Berlin. This exuberance and inspiration was passed on to Grieg at their first meeting, and the two became firm friends for the duration of Nordraak's short life. In late 1865, when Grieg joined Nordraak in Berlin, Grieg found him bedfast. Pulmonary ailments were not as kind to Nordraak as they were to Grieg, and he died of "galloping consumption" (undoubtedly tuberculosis) in March of 1866. His passing was little noted. Only one person accompanied him to burial in the Jerusalemer Kirchof in Berlin. Grieg felt the loss both professionally and personally, and in April 1866, completed his Funeral March in Honor of Rikard Nordraak. Although originally scored for piano, it was subsequently rewritten for brass choir and scored for military orchestra. It remained one of Grieg's favorite compositions, and in later years, he carried the music with him on all of his concert tours. It was played at his own funeral in 1907.

The present arrangement was taken from the eight-part brass choir arrangement of 1878 (E flat cornet, 2 B flat cornets, E flat trumpet, 2 E flat alto horns, tenor horn, tuba) which was obtained on microfilm from the University of Oslo Library and condensed into five parts by Gary Olson. The meter was changed from the original 4/4 to 8/4 to emphasize the slow speed and to simplify notation.

The important stylistic consideration in the Funeral March is the consistency of each of the block chords and each chord's relationship to the long soaring phrase which is characteristically a whole section of the piece. Each of these chords must be precisely articulated. Each must have the slightest crescendo after the initial attack to give a feeling of forward motion in the presence of a very slow speed. The piece must move very gradually between the extremes of quietness and brilliant fortissimo, never allowing the phrase to die. The decrescendo beginning in measure 14 emphasizes that the first phrase is in reality the entire first section of the piece. A feeling of forward motion and full breath support is necessary for effective performance of this piece


This arrangement is part of our Denver Brass Signature Series.


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