Simply classic: Norwegian greats never grow old
Dear readers and friends,
Every issue begins with a quote, and for an issue called “Simply classics,” it seemed to make all the sense in the world to turn to the words of Edvard Grieg, Norway’s beloved “national composer.”
“When we are young, we take our friends for granted. When we get older, we know what they mean to us,” Grieg once said, and I have to say that I relate to these words more and more as I grow older and they inspired me to put this issue together.
For me, the Norwegian classics, first and foremost Grieg and the great playwright Henrik Ibsen are like old friends. When I was young, they intrigued me and brought me closer to the Norwegian culture, but after a lifetime of learning and experience, they mean more to me than ever. There is always beauty and wisdom and what they have to offer, indeed, these Norwegian greats never grow old.
Happy Birthday, Edvard Grieg!
The timing of this issue, filled with content about Edvard Grieg, also makes a lot of sense, for June 15 marks 180 years since the composer was born. For many of you, this newspaper will have arrived in your mailbox around that day, so I hope you will take the occasion to celebrate. I will certainly be playing a number of my Grieg CDs with my favorite artists, but if you don’t have any, you can easily find thousands of recordings to chose from on the internet.
On a personal note, June 15, my thoughts also turn to my mother and her father, who both shared a birthday with Grieg. I almost feel like it brought me into a special kinship with my favorite composer. June 15 has always been a day when I think about my family and heritage, a very special day..
Another special kinship
And then there is the kinship between Edvard Grieg and Henrik Ibsen. Grieg was an admirer of Ibsen and set several of his poems to music, and there, of course, is the epic masterpiece of Peer Gynt, which we pay homage to him in this issue. For good and for bad, Peer Gynt is said to personify the Norwegian national character.
But regardless of what you think of the roguish figure of Peer Gynt, you can’t help loving the music that Grieg composed to Ibsen’s epic drama.
There is also the magic of folklore—who is fascinated by all those trolls in the hall of the mountain king—and there are the beautiful images of the Norwegian countryside that are conjured up.
Midtsommer and white horses
And yes, it’s that magical time of the year, Midtsommer, when days are the longest and sun barely sets on the Eve of St. Hans. It’s time to be outdoors again and celebrate with our friends and family, dancing to the sounds of summer folk music with a crown of flowers in your hair.
You might even imagine that you can hear the water sprite—Nøkken playing his alluring fiddle in the background somewhere, or you may even think you have caught a glimpse of him appearing as a beautiful white horse. But be careful—don’t let the white horses lure you down into the water to drown on this the longest night of the year when it seems that anything can happen.
Memories of Syttende Mai
And, of course, this is our big 17. mai photos issue. Many thanks to all of you who have shared your snapshots with us; we’ve understood what a special day it was.
Here in Seattle where I live, it was a great day of celebration with Norway’s ambassador to the United States, Anniken R. Krutnes. We were all very honored that she could take time out of her busy schedule during a global crisis to celebrate with us and offer her inspiration. It was also the week of the fourth Nordic Innovation Summit at the National Nordic Museum, where the ambassador gave the keynote address. I am very pleased to share highlights from this inspiring moment with you.
Now, summer is only a few days away! Stayed tuned to The Norwegian American for many more cherished moments and memories to come!
Wishing you a magical Midtsommer,
Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American
This article originally appeared in the June 10, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.