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Grieg the humanist – the underlying theme of the anniversary

Edvard Grieg’s humanism is reflected in his creed: “One must first be a human being. All true art grows out of that which is distinctively human.” The Grieg anniversary will focus on Grieg the humanist. Edvard Grieg was a defender of freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law in both his attitude and his actions.

Throughout his career, Grieg regarded art as an important means of expressing both individual identity and solidarity. He believed that artists play a key role in the fight against discrimination and exclusion.

One example of this was the Dreyfus case, in which Alfred Dreyfus, a French officer of Jewish extraction, was charged with high treason. Convicted in 1894, he was cleared in 1906, when it was established that the evidence against him had been fabricated.

Grieg, however, became closely involved in the case long before Dreyfus was cleared. In 1899, when the result of the case was made public, Grieg turned down an invitation to hold concerts with the Colonne orchestra in the Chatlet theatre in Paris. Grieg’s curt reply to the orchestra’s invitation was reprinted in the German Frankfurter Zeitung, and all of Europe’s major newspapers quickly began referring to and quoting it. His refusal of the invitation caused great indignation in France, and when Grieg was again invited to Paris in 1903, this time to perform his own compositions, French newspapers encouraged the public to demonstrate against him because of his position in the Dreyfus case.

Grieg the Humanist focuses on the roles of the artist and art in the promotion of human rights and freedom of expression.

The main events in the Grieg the Humanist programme:

The Edvard Grieg September Festival
Arranged by Grieg 07 from 3 to 16 September 2007, the Festival will include seminars, conferences, workshops and lectures, as well as concerts and cultural events for people of all ages.

Dreyfus/Grieg concerts and seminar in Paris
Norwegian and French musicians are cooperating on a seminar and concerts in Paris.

Programme for children and young people
Grieg 07 will develop various cooperation projects between schools, cultural institutions, musicians and ensembles, focusing on the connection between music and human rights. A priority project is Music across borders: a Grieg 07 project for children from the North Caucasus, Moscow and Bergen.

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Edvard Grieg, 1890Photo: Foto K. Nyblin / The Grieg Archives / Bergen Public Library

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