Compact Discoveries
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2004 by Compact Discoveries, Inc.

Program 54
"From Norway to Broadway"

MUSIC: Prelude opening of Song of Norway [Jay CDJAY2 1253, CD1, track 1] [under the following]

The music in the background sounds very much like Edvard Grieg's only pinao concerto. But there is one major problem. There's no piano in it. That's because you are not listening to Grieg's Piano Concerto, but rather the Prelude to the Broadway and Hollywood musical, "Song of Norway." This musical is based on the life and music of Edvard Grieg and Grieg's melodies are almost always very much in evidence from the start.

Hi and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. And in this hour we are going to travel "From Norway to Broadway" as we compare the music of "Song of Norway" to the original scores by Edvard Grieg.

MUSIC: ends

For example, let's listen to the opening of Grieg's Piano Concerto, now that you've heard what Robert Wright and George Forrest did to it in their musical version. The most obvious difference, of course, is Grieg's inclusion of the piano from the very start. But there are several other changes of orchestration as well. Still, the tunes remain very much Grieg's.

MUSIC: opening from Grieg: Piano Concerto performed by Eva Pblocka, piano, with the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cracow, conducted by Tadeusz Wojciechowski [Conifer Classics 75605 51750 2, CD1, track 1]

The opening of the Grieg Piano Concerto as performed by Ewa Poblocka at the piano with the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cracow, conducted by Tadeusz Wojciechowski.

The next major song in "Song of Norway" also makes use of the wonderful melodies found in Grieg's Piano Concerto. But it is a different melody. In the musical, it is called "Hill of Dreams."

I should let you know right now that all of the excerpts I'm using from "Song of Norway" are from a British recording on the Jay label. The cover states that this is the first complete recording of the musical. It stars Valerie Masterson, Donald Maxwell, Diana Montague, David Rendall, Elizabeth Brainbridge, Jason Howard, Richard Van Allan and Yil Hin Seow. It features the Ambrosian Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by John Owen Edwards.

Here's "Hill of Dreams" from Song of Norway.

MUSIC: Song of Norway: Hill of Dreams [Jay CDJAY2 1253, CD1, track 4]

"Hill of Dreams" from Song of Norway. Now here's the same tune as Grieg wrote it for his famous Piano Concerto.

MUSIC: excerpt from first movement of Grieg: Piano Concerto performed by Eva Pblocka, piano, with the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cracow, conducted by Tadeusz Wojciechowski [Conifer Classics 75605 51750 2, CD1, track 1]

That was the original Grieg melody from his Piano Concerto that Wright and Forrest used in their 1943 Broadway musical, "Song of Norway." Maybe I should call it a Broadway operetta. In any case, the orchestrations were by Arthur Kay.

I won't have time in this hour to play the entire Broadway musical. It takes two CDs. And I won't have time to play all of the original Grieg music that was adapted for the musical. But I'll get in as much as I can. We'll skip along then to "Freddy and his Fiddle." First we'll hear the Song of Norway version, then the original Grieg piano piece from which it was taken: Norwegian Dance No. 2, Op. 35, for piano, four hands. The four-handed pianist is Eva Knardahl.

MUSIC: Song of Norway: Freddy and his Fiddle, [Jay CDJAY2 1253, CD1, track 7]

MUSIC: Grieg: Norwegian Dance No. 2 for Piano, Four Hands, Op. 35 performed by Eva Knardahl, piano [BIS CD-113, track 5]

Grieg's Norwegian Dance No. 2 for Piano, Four Hands, Opus 35. The four-handed pianist was Eva Knardahl. Before that we heard the same tune as used in the song "Freddy and his Fiddle" from the Broaddway musical and Hollywood film Song of Norway.

This is Freddy Flaxman, and I play Compact Discoveries rather than the fiddle. This hour is called "From Norway to Broadway," and I am pairing melodies from Song of Norway with the Grieg pieces they were stolen... I mean taken from.

Now let's hear an excerpt from "Now" - the song from Song of Norway that is - followed by the Waltz from Lyric Pieces, Book 1, Opus 12, by Edvard Grieg that first used the same melody. Then we'll hear another excerpt from later on in the song "Now" paired with an excerpt from the Violin Sonata No. 2 by Grieg, which uses the same tune. Finally, you'll hear the entire "Now" section of the musical.

MUSIC: excerpt 1 from "Now" from Song of Norway [Jay CDJAY2 1253, CD1, track 8]

MUSIC: Grieg: Waltz from Lyric Pieces, Book 1, Op. 12 performed by Eva Knardahl [ BIS CD-104, track 2] [1:47]

MUSIC: excerpt 2 from "Now" from Song of Norway [Jay CDJAY2 1253, CD1, track 8]

MUSIC: excerpt from Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 2 in G Major, Op. 13 performed by Augustin Dumay, violin, and Maria Joao Pires, piano [Deutsche Grammophon D 101701, track 6]

MUSIC: complete "Now" from Song of Norway [Jay CDJAY2 1253, CD1, track 8]

That was "Now" from the musical Song of Norway, preceded by excerpts from the two pieces by Edvard Grieg which contained the original melodies adapted by Robert Wright and George Forrest for the Broadway musical and Hollywood film.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm Fred Flaxman, and my theme for this hour is "From Norway to Broadway."

"Strange Music" is the title of the next selection from Song of Norway. I think it is one of the most beautiful ballads in the musical, but it is also the least like the Grieg original.
This song once again uses two Grieg melodies. The first is not changed very much when it introduces "Strange Music," but the second... that's a different story. Wright and Forrest altered Grieg's "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen" so much that it is hard to recognize it as the basis for "Strange Music in My Ears." The mood has been completely altered, the cha-cha-cha rhythm totally eliminated, and a new middle section inserted.

First let's hear the opening of "Strange Music" and the Grieg Nocturne from which it was taken.

MUSIC: opening of "Strange Music" from Song of Norway [Jay CDJAY2 1253, CD-1, track 9]

MUSIC: Grieg: Notturno, performed by Eva Knardahl, piano [BIS CD-105, track 4] [4:28]

Edvard Grieg's Nocturne from his Lyric Pieces, Book 5, Opus 54. The pianist was Eva Knardahl. The CD is part of a complete set of Grieg's piano music that Knardahl recorded for the BIS label many years ago.

Before the Grieg original piano music, we listened to the opening of the song "Strange Music" or "Strange Music in My Ears" from the musical Song of Norway. The opening made use of this Grieg melody.

Grieg also orchestrated his Nocturne. It became part of his Lyric Suite, Opus 54. This is such a beautiful melody, let's listen to it again as performed by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (Göteborgs Symfoniker) conducted by Neeme Järvi.

MUSIC: Grieg: Notturno from Lyric Syite, Op. 54; Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi [Deutsche Grammophon 419 431-2, track 8] [4:11]

The Nocturne from Grieg's Lyric Suite performed by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi.

The main theme for "Strange Music" from the musical Song of Norway sounds like this.

MUSIC: excerpt from "Strange Music" from Song of Norway [Jay CDJAY2 1253, CD-1, track 9]

It is very hard to recognize that tune in the original Grieg piano piece, which is called Wedding Day in Troldhaugen.

MUSIC: excerpt from Grieg: Wedding-day at Troldhaugen from Lyric Pieces, Book 8, Op. 65 performed by Eva Knardahl [BIS CD-106, track 6]

In Song of Norway, as I said before, the mood of this piece is changed completely from a wedding dance, complete with a repeating cha-cha-cha rhythm, to a sentimental ballad. If you try hard, though, you may be able to hear that the tune is almost, but not quite, the same. And the middle section is quite different.

I'll play just the first germ of the Grieg theme, eliminating the cha-cha-cha, immediately followed by the first germ of the theme from Song of Norway. Then I'll do the same for the second germ of the theme. See if you can hear the similarity, despite the change of key and instrumentation.

MUSIC: Grieg and "Strange Music" Clips

Let's do that once more.

MUSIC: Grieg and "Strange Music Clips

Did you hear the similarity?

Let's listen to the entire "Strange Music" song now from Song of Norway. It's really very pretty, even though it doesn't end up sounding very much at all like the original Grieg.

MUSIC: "Strange Music" from Song of Norway [Jay CDJAY2 1253, CD-1, track 9] [4:49]

"Strange Music" from the Broadway and Hollywood musical Song of Norway.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm Fred Flaxman, and this hour my theme is "From Norway to Broadway," an exploration of the music of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg as it was transformed into the musical by Robert Wright and George Forrest.

Next we turn to the song called Hymn of Betrothal which comes from Grieg's song called To Spring. First the Broadway version. Then the song as Grieg wrote it. And finally the song as Grieg transcribed it for piano. Any way you hear this, the melody is just gorgeous.

MUSIC: "Hymn of Betrothal" from Song of Norway [Jay CDJAY2 1253, CD-1, track 13]

MUSIC: Grieg: To Spring as sung by Anne Sofie Von Otter with Bengt Forsberg at the piano [Deutsche Grammophon D 174269, track 18]

MUSIC: Grieg: To Spring from Lyric Pieces, Book 3, Op. 43; Eva Knardahl, piano [BIS CD-104] [2:44]

Edvard Grieg's To Spring. First you heard the melody as it was used in the musical Song of Norway, where it was called Hymn of Betrothal. That was from a Jay compact disc recording of the complete musical.

Next you heard the original Grieg song with mezzosoprano Anne Sofie Von Otter on a Deutsche Grammophon recording.

And finally you heard Grieg's piano version of the same melody, performed by Eva Knardahl on a BIS compact disc.

Back from Norway to Broadway now and "Bon Vivant" from Song of Norway, followed by With a Water Lily from Grieg's songs.

MUSIC: Song of Norway: Bon Vivant [CD-2, track 2] [4:33]

MUSIC: Grieg: Med en vandlilje; Anne Sofie Von Otter; Bengt Forsberg, piano [DGG D 174269, track 16]

Anne Sofie Von Otter sang With a Waterlilly, accompanied by Bengt Forsberg at the piano - the original song by Edvard Grieg. Before that you heard the same tune as it appears in the musical Song of Norway.

The next song from the musical, which is called "Three Loves" once again is composed of two Grieg pieces: Album Leaf, from his Lyric Pieces for Piano, Book 1, Opus 12, and Erotikk, which means about what you think it means. That is from Grieg's Lyric Pieces, Book 3, Opus 43.

Let's hear the first theme from "Three Loves" paired with the Album Leaf theme.

MUSIC: clip 1 from "Three Loves"

MUSIC: clip from Grieg: Album Leaf

And now the second theme from "Three Loves" paired with the Erotikk theme.

MUSIC: clip 2 from "Three Loves"

MUSIC: clip from Grieg: Erotikk

Finally, the pieces themselves.

MUSIC: Song of Norway: Three Loves [2:56]

MUSIC: Grieg: Album Leaf, Knardahl, piano [BIS CD-104, track 7] [1:32]

MUSIC: Grieg: Erotikk, Knardahl, piano [BIS CD-104, track 21] [2:50]

Eva Knardahl played two of Grieg's Lyric Pieces: Album Leaf and Erotikk. Before that we heard "Three Loves" from Song of Norway. That song incorporates both of these Lyric Pieces.

Returning to Broadway now, here's "Rikaard's Farewell" from Song of Norway paired with Last Spring by Edvard Grieg.

MUSIC: Song of Norway: Rikaard's Farewell

MUSIC: Grieg: Last Spring, Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cracow, Tadeusz Wojciechowski [Conifer Classics 75605 51750 2, CD-1, track 9] [4:46]

Last Spring by Edvard Grieg, from his Two Elegiac Melodies, Op. 34. Tadeusz Wojciechowski conducted the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra of Cracow on a Conifer Classics CD. Before that you heard the same melody from "Rikaard's Farewell" in Song of Norway.

My favorite Grieg song is Jeg elsker Dig - I Love You. It is literally short and sweet, lasting only about 90 seconds. When Greig transcribed the same melody for piano, he doubled its length by repeating the tune a second time. We conclude "From Norway to Broadway" with these two pieces by Grieg followed by the Broadway musical version, which is also called "I Love You," although the lyrics have been changed from the Hans Christian Andersson poem that Grieg used.

MUSIC: Grieg: Jeg elsker Dig, Anne Sofie Von Otter, mezzosoprano; Bengt Forsberg, piano [DGG D 174269, track 24]

MUSIC: Grieg: Jeg elsker dig, Eva Knardahl, piano [BIS CD-111, track 22] [3:12]

MUSIC: Song of Norway: I Love You [CD-2, track 11] [3:18]

Three versions of "I Love You" to bring to a close this trip "From Norway to Broadway." First we heard the original Grieg song as sung by Anne Sofie Von Otter. Then Greig's own arrangement for piano played by Eva Knardahl. And finally the same melody as it was used in the Broadway and Hollywood musical, Song of Norway.

All of the excerpts I used were from a two-CD set of the complete recording of Wright and Forrest's Song of Norway on the Jay label. The singers are Valerie Masterson, Donald Maxwell, Diana Montague, David Rendall, Elizabeth Brainbridge, Jason Howard, Richard Van Allan and Yil Hin Seow. The Ambrosian Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra are conducted by John Owen Edwards.

MUSIC: TBA under the following:

This is Fred Flaxman thanking you for listening to Compact Discoveries. Please let me have your comments on this program or the Compact Discoveries series in general. You can contact me by e-mail at compactdiscoveries@fredflaxman.com. That's all one word and Flaxman is spelled f-l-a-x-m-a-n: compactdiscoveries@fredflaxman.com. You might also enjoy the Compact Discoveries website at www.fredflaxman.com. There you'll find lots of Compact Discoveries articles.

Compact Discoveries is a production of Compact Discoveries, Inc. and a presentation of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

MUSIC: up, then finishes at 58:00.

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