Peter Grønland @ RISM
Everybody is talking about Franz Liszt’s (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886) 200th birthday this month. But it is not only him who has a celebration in October 2011. Peter Grønland (October 15, 1761 – December 30, 1825), a Danish composer 50 years older than Liszt, is also observing a milestone birthday.
Peter Grønland left behind a rich body of vocal music. Many of his lieder and songs follow the tenets of the so-called Second Berlin Song School. He studied law from 1782-1785 in Kiel, Germany and held the post of copyist at the German chancellery in Copenhagen beginning in 1787. In the 1790s he acted as chancellery secretary and archivist. Motivated by Carl Friedrich Cramer, he was active in the field of music, especially music journalism, where he was a contributor to Cramer’s Magazin der Musik. Grønland was an admirer of the German poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, of whose writings he owned a remarkably comprehensive collection. RISM lists works by Grønland in over 400 sources (360 alone from the Danish Royal Library [DK-Kk] and 48 from the Schleswig-Holstein State Library [D-KIl], the latter even including manuscripts dating from around 1920). Numerous settings are based on texts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
In his autobiography, the Danish composer Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse (1774-1842) characterized Grønland as follows: “Without actually being, or wanting to be, a musician, indeed without even being able to play an instrument with any particular proficiency, he possessed musical knowledge--and even then only especially dedicated to theory, criticism, or speculation--that coincides only rarely and he had the most vivid sense for all things beautiful” (Hatting, ‘Weyses selvbiografi’, p. 64).
Modern scholars have pointed out that “Grønland often wrote music reviews for German newspapers and set a series of Swedish folk songs to music, which he published in 1818. In addition, even at this early point he was engaged from a historical perspective with songs, although his settings of the Danish material unfortunately never got past the manuscript phase” (Anne Ørbæk Jensen, Claus Røllum-Larsen, and Inger Sørensen, Wahlverwandtschaften. Zwei Jahrhunderte musikalischer Wechselwirkungen zwischen Dänemark und Deutschland [Copenhagen: Det Kongelige Bibliotek, 2004], p. 34).
"Heidenröslein," text by Goethe. Score with sound.
"O, stjerne, hav tak" from Old Danish Songs, text by Johan Ludvig Heiberg. Text with sound.
Autograph copy of 188 Folk Songs from the Royal Danish Library.
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