Archive for June 28th, 2011

Grieg Is a Headbanger

I came across this video from a band called Apocalyptica.   I had never heard of them before but soon discovered that it was a Finnish group that was formed in 1993 and consisted of four cellists who were all classically trained at the Sibelius Academy.  They are fairly popular in Europe and around the world. 

 And they play heavy metal with their cellos.


I’m not a metal head so I wasn’t as intrigued as I had thought but I gave a listen.  Some was okay but could have been any metal group that had simply inserted cellos for guitars.  Interesting but not my cup of tea.

But a version they did of In the Hall of the Mountain King that Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg had written for Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt caught my ear and made me think.  I wondered how someone like Grieg, who died in 1907,  would react to such a treatment of his music.  The more I listened the more that I thought he might have actually enjoyed it, might see that it captured some of the spirit of what he was offering in his original composition.  There is a cavelike quality to the arena setting.

Plus, from looking at a few pictures of Grieg I thought he might appreciate the fact that his music was being performed by a hair band.  In all the photos, Grieg’s hair seems to be a point of pride with him and I could almost imagine him throwing his head forward like the heayy metal guys do so that their hair flies forward then back in rhythm to the music. 

Or maybe not.

Grieg was not all that happy with this composition at the time, saying,  “I have also written something for the scene in the hall of the mountain King – something that I literally can’t bear listening to because it absolutely reeks of cow-pies, exaggerated Norwegian nationalism, and trollish self-satisfaction! But I have a hunch that the irony will be discernible.”  Maybe this treatment of his music would have pleased him from an ironic standpoint.

Anyway, here’s the Apocalyptica version.  It will either  have you banging your head or have your head banging. 

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