This bronze bust of Norwegian composer Edvard Hagerup Grieg (1843–1907) by sculptor Sigvald Asbjornsen (1867-1954) was dedicated in 1914 in the Concert Grove. This statue is one of seven in the immediate vicinity, including four portraits, of composers.
The original plan for Prospect Park, designed in 1866 by Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) and Calvert Vaux (1824-1895), showed no specific features for this area of the park, merely the words “Concourse for Pedestrians” and “Music Stand.” Around 1870, during the park’s construction, Olmsted and Vaux elaborated their design to accommodate musical performances. Within an otherwise pastoral park, they set formal grounds with terraces and a radial arrangement of walkways, punctuated by lineally arranged trees, lavish floral beds, and elaborate decorative carvings in New Brunswick sandstone. Noting that, “Promenade concerts are common in many European pleasure grounds [and were] universal in German towns, common in French, and less so in British,” they sought in the concert grove to achieve a place with this purpose in mind.
The Concert Grove House was built at the north end but was demolished in 1949. At the south end Vaux designed the Concert Grove Pavilion. Completed in 1874, the pavilion consists of eight cast-iron posts modeled after Hindu columns of the medieval period (8th to 12th centuries), which support an elaborately painted hipped roof with a stained-glass cupola. Also known as the Oriental Pavilion, the structure was used as an open-air restaurant for some time. In 1987 it underwent a complete restoration.
In 1887, the Music Pagoda was built near the Lily Pond, and with the subsequent establishment of a new music grove at the north edge of the area of the park known as the Nethermead, this area came to be referred to as the Flower Garden.
The Concert Grove possesses a rich collection of bronze sculptural portraits. Henry Baerer’s bust of Ludwig van Beethoven (1894), Augustus Mueller’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1897), and Chester Beach’s Carl Maria Von Weber (1909) were trophies, which members of the United German Singers of Brooklyn won in the national Saengerfest choral competitions. This statue of Grieg was commissioned at a cost of $2,500 and was a gift to the Borough of Brooklyn by Norwegian Societies.
Grieg was a trailblazer in establishing a Norwegian school of composition. He studied music at the Conservatory in Leipzig, Germany, and, influenced by N.V. Gade; his first compositions reflected German romanticism. In 1864, Norwegian composer Richard Nordraak instilled in Grieg an understanding for the Norwegian folk tradition, and thereafter Grieg’s music reflected a Norwegian nationalist influence. Also in that year, Grieg became conductor of the Philharmonic Society of Christiana, and established there, in 1865, the Academy of Music.
Grieg was a prolific composer in many formats, including orchestral pieces, piano works, songs with a native basis, and chamber music. In 1874 playwright and countryman Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) asked Grieg to write music to accompany his play Peer Gynt, and the resulting two orchestral suites completed in 1876 became Grieg’s most popular compositions.
The bronze portrait of Grieg depicts the distinguished composer with characteristic long hair and a stoic gaze. Cast at the Florentine Brotherhood Foundry of Chicago, Illinois, the statue was unveiled in Prospect Park on July 11, 1914. In 1937 Parks crews repatined the statue and cleaned the pedestal. Some time later, due to weathering and vandalism, the sculpture was stored for safekeeping, and was reinstalled in the early 1990s. In 1997 the sculpture was conserved by the City Parks Foundation Monuments Conservation Program, with funding from the Florence Gould Foundation.
Edvard Grieg Memorial Details
- Location: Flower Garden
- Sculptor: Sigvald Asbjornsen
- Description: Bust on pedestal with plaque
- Materials: Bust and plaque--bronze; Pedestal--granite
- Dimensions: Bust H: 3'; Pedestal H: 9'3" W: 3'4" D: 3'1"; Plaque H: 6" W: 1'6"
- Cast: ca 1914
- Dedicated: 1914
- Foundry: Florentine Brotherhood, Chicago, Illinois
- Donor: The Norwegian Societies
- Inscription: Pedestal:
GRIEG /---/ 1914 /
PRESENTED TO THE BOROUGH OF / BROOKLYN / BY THE NORWEGIAN SOCIETIES / 1914 /
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