Grieg, & Bach in the Slammer

“Morning Mood” (from Peer Gynt) Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

Passacalio Biagio Marini (1594-1663)

Concerto in C Prince Johann Ernst (1696-1715)

Our prelude was composed by Edvard Grieg, a Norwegian composer who whose youthful triumphs so boosted national morale that the Norwegian government awarded him a state pension in 1874—at age twenty-nine.

“Morning Mood”, one of his most famous pieces, originally depicts sunrise as our hero (Peer Gynt) finds himself stranded in the Moroccan desert after his companions took his yacht and abandoned him while he slept, and up a tree defending himself with a stick from a swarm of apes. (I couldn’t possibly make this up!). Originally composed for orchestra, I’ve arranged this piece for organ.

The postlude was composed by Prince Johann Ernst, nephew of Wilhelm Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Weimar. The duke employed J.S.Bach as ‘second in command’ of his court music. When the duke promoted an incompetent but better-connected underling over Bach, Bach asked to be released from what was assumed to be lifetime employment. For his impertinence, the duke jailed Bach for a month (yes, J.S.Bach “did time in the slammer”!) before finally relenting and letting him seek employment elsewhere. Sadly, Prince Johann died at age 19 from a leg infection.