Music Appreciation - In the Hall of the Mountain King by Greig

In the Hall of the Mountain King

This piece of music is from the Peer Gynt Suite written by the Norwegian composer Edvard Greig. He was born in 1843 and died in 1907.

A suite is a large instrumental work made up of several pieces of music grouped together.

The play tells the story of a vain and rather untruthful young man, Peer Gynt, who lives life for fun. He goes in search of his fortune and in doing so enjoys many wild adventures involving him in several lucky escapes. In this section of the suite, Peer wanders high into the mountains of Norway. There he discovers the cave that is home of the Mountain King, the king of the trolls.

Trolls are ugly creatures in Scandinavian folklore who live in mountain caves.

Peer pretends to be a prince, and the king’s daughter, who is very ugly, falls in love with him. She dances for him, and when he laughs at her dance and refuses to marry her, the trolls become angry. Peer has to run for his life, perused by the trolls who yell, “Slay him! Slay him!” He escapes from the cave just as it collapses on the pursuing trolls.

Listen to the music and listen to how the composer depicts the following ideas:
1. The chase
2. An ever increasing number of trolls
3. The collapse of the cave.

The opening melody in this piece is repeated all the way through the music. Notice that this repetition is not boring because the composer varies certain aspects of the music including pitch,
volume, timbre, texture and tempo.

(Click on the title to hear the music)

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