Both Edvard and Nina Grieg apparently had a strong wish that all the documents they had so carefully collected throughout a long musical career should pass to their home town, Bergen. They wanted the collection to be easily accessible to everyone. Bergen Public Library was therefore chosen to administer this great and valuable bequest.
In 1919 Troldhaugen, their residence in Bergen, was sold at public auction, and the bequest was handed over to the library. In 1930 Nina Grieg, from her home in Denmark, sent her unique collection of letters from musicians, artists, authors, etc.
In 1962 Bergen Public Library initiated the compilation of the Edvard Grieg Gesamtausgabe, which was completed in 1995. This is a complete collection of Grieg's compositions, with commentaries, in 20 volumes. Autograph scores from the Grieg Archives are here published for the first time.
In 1993 the 150th anniversary of Edvard Grieg's birth was celebrated in grand style both at home and abroad, and the Grieg Archives were an indispensable resource for anyone who wished to contribute studies of Grieg. The great number of documents resulting from The 1993 Grieg Anniversary was added to the Grieg Collection and are available for research.
Over the years the collection of original documents has been augmented by gifts and by purchases. The Grieg Archives are continuously updated with all new literature and other information on Grieg and his music
The documents of the Archives are now available on the web. Music researchers and music lovers in general have the opportunity of finding their own way around in this comprehensive information - in furtherance of Edvard Grieg's wish for 'accessibility'.
In Edvard Grieg's diary is this entry of November 19, 1906: "Signed testament's codicil with Nina at Joachim Grieg's."
The entry refers to arrangements made by Edvard Grieg, to the lasting benefit of Bergen's musical future, through his vigorous engagement in the Grieg Fund and the bequeathal of his manuscripts and papers to the Bergen Public Library. The Edvard Grieg Fund was established in 1903 when fifty prominent citizens, with the goal of fostering musical development, resolved to create a permanent symphony orchestra in Bergen. They commenced raising capital for a fund which would bear Grieg's name, and which he might administer as he saw fit. The contents of the testament are imparted to the Library Board as follow:
The Board of The Bergen Public Library, Bergen
In our testamentary provisions my wife and 1 have expressed our wish that our books, manuscripts, autographs, sheet music, and artistic correspondence should, upon our deaths, be conveyed to the Bergen Public Library, with the stipulation that they are maintained and made accessible
to the populace of Bergen.
I permit myself to here enquire whether the Bergen Public Library Board is amenable to receiving such a gift.
With highest regards,
One may wonder that global citizen Edvard Grieg, who throughout his entire adult life resided for only relatively short periods in his birthplace, was so strongly attached to and engaged in conditions in Bergen as these testamentary measures might indicate. In the will, wherein the spouses designate each other sole heirs, it is specified that kr. 25.000 of their posthumous fortunes should fall to the Edvard Grieg Fund, and that the rest of "our effects" (including royalties and proceeds from sales of music and from performances) should be realised, the net sum also being transferred to the Fund. The provisos attached by Edvard Grieg to this bequest indicate clear guidelines
for the development of a professional music culture in Bergen - and they promote ambitions evolved during his two years as a conductor for the Harmonien orchestra of Bergen (1880 and 1881), and "Den store Musikfesten i Bergen" project (the Great Bergen Music Festival) in 1898, when he engaged the "Consertgebouw" orchestra from Amsterdam rather than employ Bergen's own, less professional, orchestra. It would be seen that both the Fund and guidelines were to generate the hoped for results. Today it is evident that the legacy bestown upon The Bergen Public Library has been of vital significance not only for the knowledge this material imparts about the artist Edvard Grieg and his works, but also for the city to which he belonged. The question occasionally arises as to why Edvard Grieg should have desired to leave the whole of his valuable archive - so scrupulously maintained over many years - to his hometown's public library. There was, after all, a Norwegian national library at the University of Oslo, and Bergen possessed a scientific institution, the Bergen Museum, with its own library and holograph manuscript collection. A coincidence it was not, and Edvard Grieg joined a distinguished roster of greater and lesser patrons who have established foundations and endowments for general, cultural, and social aims. Furthermore, at the time he added his ìcodicilî to his testament, the development of the public library was a chief concern for many leading citizens.
The Cultural Climate of 18th Century Bergen
Bergen enjoys a venerable tradition of seeking common solutions for culturally and communally beneficial aims. In the 1800's there existed a collective spirit and a climate of entrepreneurship which effectively resolved tasks and provided for the public good, at the same time affording ample opportunity for entertainment and social interaction for both middle and upper classes. The otherwise so economically reserved merchants could be exceptionally generous if the cause was right. Urban community development - economic, social, and cultural - became, for those who were in a position for it, both a communal and a personal responsibility. Numerous issues relating to the city's improvement were deliberated when Bergen's leading men congregated daily at ìBørsenî (the Stock Exchange, founded
in 1813), men who were also associated with "Det Nyttige Selskab" (The Society
of Good Works), operating for the city's benefit and beautification, and the society ìDen gode Hensigtî (The Good Intention), supporting both social and cultural causes. It was to this tradition that Edward Grieg and his family belonged, and it was this diverse society he frequented when he resided in Bergen. Nor were they few, the tasks which were proposed and resolved in the 1800's:
Music was first
"Den harmoniske Selskab" (The Harmonic Society, aka Harmonien), founded in 1765, served for its members as both a social club and as a venue for musical expression. "Det dramatiske Selskab" (The Drama Society), founded in 1794, was in effect an offshoot of Harmonien, gradually attaining double the membership of the parent society. Stemming from Harmonien a drawing school was also founded, accompanied by a significant effort to stimulate interest in the visual arts. J.C. Dahl and prefect W. F. K. Christie were the prime movers behind this development; The Fine Arts Society was established in 1838, and three years later Bergens Billedgalleri (the City Art Collection) was founded to administer the society's purchases, gradually evolving into a fine collection of Norwegian and international art. The arts society raffled quality works of art to its members and secured a solid financial base for both arts instruction and for the expansion of the collection. The musical society Harmonien bloomed and withered in step with the city's musical talents and with its members' support for sustained concert activity. Both in the decision making bodies and as musicians and singers we find active members of other prominent societies, Bergen Museum, the Stock Exchange, public officialdom and the political arena. Orchestra members gave lessons, and in both the public and private domain music became an integral feature of the city's social life. There were scarcely other criteria than competence required for membership in the orchestra, for here Ole Bull auditioned for the orchestra already at the age of eight, and was not the only juvenile member. Here several of Edvard Grieg's relatives, both maternal and paternal, had played and sung, including Hagerups, Bulls and Griegs. After more than a century of orchestral activity being operated as an amateur enterprise, the city needed the stability and consistent expertise of a professional orchestra - despite the fact that the musical quality of the orchestra had at times reached a high level. Amassing community support for such a venture proved exceptionally difficult. Success was eventually achieved after Edvard Grieg, during Bergen's Great Music Festival of 1898, demonstrated for the world what a truly professional orchestra could accomplish. The Grieg Fund which was established five years later and the private gifts and contributions which followed at length resulted in official contributions. Twenty years after the Music Festival, 2 October 1919, the new orchestra was inaugurated, over one and a half centuries after Harmonien's inception. Two valuable and distinguished patrons of Harmonien and Bergen's musical life were also "immigrants", Wilhelm Harloff (born in Mecklenburg in 1828), and Carl Rabe. Harloff administered a well-known and much utilized sheet music library - this he willed to the Bergen Public Library. The Library received the collection of 10,000 scores in March of 1913, building
its music department upon this base. Although support for Harmonien has varied through time, patronage for the theatre has fluctuated even more dramatically. "Det dramatiske Selskab", which had succeeded in raising a large theatre on Engen in 1800, boasted over 600 members in the twenties. This number dwindled significantly in the 1830's and 40's, until Ole Bull founded "Det norske Theater" in 1850. After Ibsen's departure from the theatre in 1857 there followed a period when the society functioned merely as a kind of business manager for various performances - until Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson's arrival in 1871 brought a new spark to the theatre world. He was quickly inducted into the influential milieus of the city, including the circle around author Magdalene Thoresen, who had married off her daughter, Suzanne, to Henrik Ibsen soon after his Bergen period. A collaboration between the music society and the theatre ensured the theatre necessary music for its performances. This cooperation is also reflected in Grieg's provisos. Yet although the privileged class played a leading role in many of the city's cultural and social institutions, they were certainly not alone. From 1850 there operated a sizeable and active organisation with a clear humanitarian and social program: Bergen's Arbeiderforening (Labor Union). This organisation quickly erected a large building which housed, among other things, a library and a spacious meeting hall. It was here Edvard Grieg gave his first independent concert 21st of May 1862 when, in addition to other pieces, his string quartet in D minor was performed by Harmonien's musicians. In both 1863 and 1864 he was again to be heard on the premises, the second time with his brother John and violinist August Fries, to a storm of applause from the audience.
Returning to Edvard
Grieg's journal entry from 19th of November 1906: "Signed testament's codicil with Nina at Joachim Grieg's." Shipbroker Joachim Grieg (1849-1932) was Edvard Grieg's nephew, and in the 1880's known as a pioneer in the shipping industry. A kingpin in the business world which gathered around the Bergen Stock Exchange, he introduced the use of the telegraph for the quick assembly of information and closing of deals, etc,
and inspired the rest of the city's ship owners and merchants to modernise their methods. He was an active politician in the municipality and a representative for Frisinnede Venstre (the
Liberal Left) at Stortinget (Parliament). For 35 years he sat on the board of Den Nationale Scene (the National Theatre), eventually as its chairman, playing a similar role in Harmonien. Thus was he able to have a hand in all of the most significant political and cultural institutions of the day, bringing together opposing interests and efforts. It was therefore Joachim Grieg who could best attend to Edvard Grieg's interests when the composer, with generous contributions, wished to advance Bergen's musical culture. Joachim Grieg ensured that the statutes and stipulations were structured in such a way that his uncle's desired results would be achieved. It was also Joachim Grieg who, in 1919, when Nina Grieg no longer had the energy nor the financial resources to maintain Troldhaugen (the Grieg family home), finally purchased the property from her, later bestowing it, in 1925 - in a deed of conveyance - upon the municipality of Fana. Although most of Edvard and Nina Grieg's furniture and possessions had been auctioned off, a committee of enterprising women saw to it that Troldhaugen was restored to its original condition. In 1928, the house was opened to the public.
The Bergen Public Library Grieg Collection
Soon after the turn of the century the Bergen Public Library emerged as a major library one of Scandinavia's largest. In the period 1900-1910, from the Library's collection of approximately 100,000 books and periodicals, a large number of users from all strata of society made from 130,000
- 170,000 loans a year.
From before the turn of the century the Library Board`s most important aim had been the acquisition of a larger and more modern building. In 1901 a fund raising committee was created. By year's end they had raised kr 60,000, but it was another five years before they had managed to amass the necessary kr.100,000 minimum. In the meantime, the City Council had offered the Library a site in Børneparken (Children's Park), the present-day "Byparken" (City Park). In 1905, after a study tour of English libraries, the committee could finally invite Norwegian architects to compete for the best plan for a new library building. All of 71 proposals were submitted, but a second round with the most promising of these was required before the building committee and the Board were satisfied.
Many of Bergen's leading citizens were engaged in the issues of popular education and the Library, and it was considered unremarkable that the Public Library combined quite specialized texts with more entertaining literature for the common reader. The 1872 establishment of the Bergen Public Library was a consequence of the acquisition of university librarian Paul Botten-Hansen's 12,000 volume meticulously composed book collection, and a perception of what material was appropriate for a public library is reflected in the many gifts, conveyances, and deposits which gradually materialized - from valuable original manuscripts to specialized scholarly collections. That all of 6-7 o/o of the Library's loans were books written in foreign languages, e.g. English, German, French, Italian and Spanish (mostly works of fiction), further nuances this picture. The enthusiasm shown in Bergen for its Public Library no doubt helps to account for why Edvard Grieg, in his testamentary provisions, expressed the wish that his considerable collection of music scores should "be made accessible to the populace of Bergen". In the Library Board's minutes from 1906 and the ensuing years, no sign of reaction to Edvard Grieg's bequest to the Library is recorded. Nevertheless, this is not so surprising, as until 1910, when the dynamic young Chief Librarian Arne Kildal took charge, the Board's records reflected the practical/administrative role of the Board, rather than a more formal supervisory function. Yet in the Board's Annual Report one can read: Of extraordinary significance was Dr. Edvard and Mrs. Nina Grieg's testamentary provision that the public library in the artist couple's home town should be entrusted with the administration of their artistic and literary effects. Where Edvard Grieg lead with his good example others followed. In the Library's "Annual Report for 1912 and the first half of 1913" is written: The most notable gift to the Library in many years was received in May of 1913 when ship owner Albert Harloff announced that he would be donating the vast music collection amassed by his father, the late cantor Wilhelm Harloff. This archive comprises no less than 25,000 volumes of musical material, many of which are considered highly valuable. Due to space limitations in the present venue, the collection will first be conveyed when the Library moves into its new building, where a section will be specially designated for the loaning and study of music. That this distinguished collection has entered into the possession of the city and been made available to the public is an occasion for rejoicing which cannot but produce favourable results. One must be grateful to Mr Harloff for the great engagement and discernment he has demonstrated with this act.
Furthermore, in the 1913 annual report it is recorded that in January of that year the Library had begun to loan out "quality, selected music" from a collection of approx. 200 volumes, chosen by composer and pianist Borghild Holmsen (1865-1938) of the city's music academy, and that by March, 206 loans had been made from this collection! It was the enterprising young Chief Librarian Arne Kildal who had facilitated this development - and this marks the time music was loaned out by a library in Norway. It was also Kildal who ensured that a music department was included in the designs for the new library - then in its final planning stages.
It is written somewhat modestly in the annual report: "As far as can be ascertained Bergen is the first library in Norway which has begun to loan out music, but this practice is quite common and popular in several libraries abroad." Though it took time before the new building was erected - it was not completed before autumn 1917 the music collection rapidly increased in both size and popularity. In 1915 the collection had expanded to 400 volumes, while loans had multiplied to 2,164. In the autumn of 1919 the Bergen Public Library took possession of all Grieg's music manuscripts, his personal collection of printed music scores with corrections and dedications, and his private library. The annual report for 1920/21 notes in a paragraph entitled
Department: The entire year has been dedicated to the systematisation of Edvard Grieg's music collection. This work is now complete and the collection has been classified, catalogued, bound and installed in the Department. Besides 2,820 volumes, including some very valuable scores, the collection also encompasses Griegës manuscript for the famous Quartet in G-flat, Opus 27, and for Den bergtekne (The Mouintain Thrall), Opus 32. Another rarity is a large sketchbook which belonged to Richard Nordraak. Among other items of interest, this includes a draft of his music to "Ja, vi elsker dette landet"
(ìthe Norwegian national
Work with the Harloff collection will commence in the autumn.
On the 2nd February 1924, the Library's 50th anniversary, the new Music Department was inaugurated in the western wing of the main library, in a 55 m2 westward facing room with its own entrance from Strømgaten, seating for twenty students, and music scores and books stacked almost to the ceiling of the lofty room.
Here was also Grieg's music collection of 2,655 items, scrupulously registered and reserved in a separate collection to be loaned out and used only for exceptionally important research. In the annual report for 1923-1924 is written: Besides the Grieg Collection - in all comprising 2,655 items - nearly 5,650 documents have been processed (of these approx. 400 were transferred from the main library). The various groups (not including the Grieg Collection) consist of: approx. 4,100 solo pieces, 400 for four hands, 380 for violin, 400 songs with accompaniment and in addition a number of chamber music pieces.
In the Department's holdings are 450 volumes of reference works, music histories and monographs on individual composers or diverse topics. The department was opened to the public on the 2nd
of February, and by the year's end 2,660 loans were registered.
Chief Librarian Victor Smith, who succeeded Arne Kildal in 1922, was particularly enthusiastic about music. In an article in the journalBok og Bibliotek in 1924 he describes the newly opened Music Department, its principles for organising and registering musical material, etc., and soberly adds: îOur Music Department was opened quietly, all unnecessary mention in the newspapers being avoided. Loans from the Department in the two and a half months it has been open have totalled 30-40 items a day, with opening hours during the week from 4.30 7.30 p.m. As the Department can obviously handle increased activity, we shall now begin press promotion for greater use, an appeal which will assuredly gain a response here in old music loving town Bergen." In 1927 the Bergen Public Library received twenty-eight sealed packets of letters from Nina Grieg. These were to be opened and used for research only after her death. This gift is recorded in the annual report, with the addition:
"A number of manuscripts and important archive material have also been received from other sources." A good instance of these donations is given in the subsequent annual report:
"In addition there are several Grieg letters gifted by Mrs. Maia Schjøtt (9 pcs.) and ship owner Erling Monsen of London (6 pcs.).î
Similar gifts are reported in following years as the collection steadily grew.
Space for the steadily expanding Grieg Collection
Grieg`s personal music archive was still housed in the Music Department, now under the devoted care of Clara Lampe. The manuscript and correspondence collection, managed by the Library administration, was as early as 1928 relocated to a more secure storage space in a newly constructed basement vault, the most valuable documents eventually placed in a bank safe. Neither of these places offered the most ideal storage conditions, as would be seen. Many years would pass before the Grieg Collection per se would be allocated its own study/display room in the main library. This occurred in 1970. At that time the entire collection had come under the daily ìcareî of the head of the Music Department from 1959 Karen Falch Johannessen. The Grieg Room was only a small attic room, but from then on the material could be presented in its entirety and it was possible to study and work with it in peace and quiet. A great commotion and much newspaper attention were the result when in 1978 it was discovered that tiny crawling silverfish had helped themselves to the paper edges of a few scores located in the Library vault. Fortunately the documents could be restored - but the alarm had sounded and ideas and suggestions for better locations for the Grieg Collection and the Music Department were resurrected, strongly supported by music enthusiasts and the media, but without any finance-granting authority or patron feeling compelled to offer assistance. For Grieg admirers in Bergen and elsewhere it might appear that the City of Bergen took little responsibility for the management of the Grieg inheritance. But couldn't the Library itself have changed its priorities for the benefit of the Grieg Collection? Something could of course be done without lavish resources - and was - yet the situation remained deadlocked. During the 1970s and 1980s the Library was in a dismal financial situation. The merging of local authorities in 1972 had brought the time and work consuming task of incoorporating many small, neglected local libraries, and space problems in the main library were urgent, while all expansion plans had stranded. Safeguarding the collections was nevertheless imperative, and this would prove possible with few means. The Library vault was renovated and secured, making it henceforth a satisfactory storage space, considerably better than the bank safe in which many valuable Grieg documents were housed. Therefore, in 1979/80, all Grieg material in the bank was relocated to the Library vault, where it shared space with the correspondence and manuscripts of other eminent Norwegian artists and others.
The Library administration had long seen its responsibility in relation to the Grieg Collection as entailing its organisation, preservation and management. Chief Librarian Johannes Bygstad however, took a different view. In order to adopt a more future-oriented approach, top priority had to be given to development and accessibility, and this required action and new alliances. Consequently, having built out the network of branch libraries and launched the pioneering book boat service, the erstwhile university librarian formed a collaboration with, among others, Det Nyttige Selskab, with the goal of supplementing the Grieg material. From music antiquary Dan Fog in Copenhagen they purchased his extensive collection of first-edition Grieg scores, painstakingly culled from around the world, fastidiously catalogued and organised. With this newly-acquired addition, the Library's first major Grieg exhibition was presented during the 1962 Festspill (The Bergen International Festival). Concurrently the Library received a considerable addition to the 470 letters in Grieg`s hand they already possessed when approximately 150 letters to factory owner Sigurd Hals were presented to the Bergen Public Library by his daughter-in-law Cathrine Hals, in addition to her gift of the original manuscript of ìFola fola Blakken". A few years later came 74 new letters, this time Grieg's letters to the Dutch violinist Johannes Wolff obtained for Norway by publishing director Jørgen W. Cappelen. A steady inflow of gifts and a few purchases via the Library's own funds further enhanced the collection. A critical and scientific edition of Grieg's collected works The initiation of a more far-sighted and extensive endeavour involving Grieg's works was desired by both music scholars and others. As administrator of the Grieg Collection it seemed natural to Johannes Bygstad that the Bergen Public Library should appoint a Grieg Committee composed of eminent scholars. The Committee was formed in 1962, its goal to prepare the publication of a critical and scientific edition of Grieg's compositions. Olav Gurvin was appointed chairman, and other members included Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe, Nils Grinde, Dan Fog and Johannes Bygstad. On the 2nd of February 1963 the Grieg Committee applied to the Norwegian Church and Education Department "for funds in the amount of kr. 20,000 for the year 1964 for the examination and preservation of the Grieg material." In the letter is written:
For the preservation of Grieg's memory and to ensure that his music be handed down to posterity in the form he himself lent it, calls have been made from various quarters for the prompt initiation of efforts to publish a critical and scientific edition of Grieg's compositions. In light of the fact that the copyright for his work soon expires, it is time to commence this task.
Nils Grinde had agreed to undertake the preparatory work in preserving Grieg`s work for the future. At the same time the Committee informed the Department that they had solicited other institutions for support for the main project. The Department allocated the project kr. 2,300, and with this modest sum work began. Johannes Bygstad died suddenly in December of 1963, and with him vanished the strong personal connection which had existed between the Grieg Committee and the Bergen Public Library administration. But the Committee continued its activity under the mandate it had been given, and in a letter to the Church and Education Department dated 3rd of April 1967 Olav Gurvin writes on behalf of the Committee: Despite the death of Bygstad in 1964 the Committee continued with its work. Bygstad had believed that he would procure funds for this publication in Bergen and the United States, but this has not been the case, at least in Bergen, for the reason that the Grieg Hall was to be erected and both Bergen City Council and the Bergen banks wished first and foremost to support this plan.
The Committee then turned to the Church and Education Department for support for this publication and received kr. 15,000 in 1965. It received kr. 50,000 from the Norsk Kulturråd (Norwegian Cultural Council) in 1966, while kr. 65,000 is pledged for 1967.
Work in the Committee is proceeding well. We have acquired facilities at the University of Oslo Library and have assembled a large amount of Grieg material in the form of letters and scores.
Gurvin further adds that the quantity of material was much more extensive than had been anticipated, and estimated a finished work of approximately 4,000 pages divided between 20 volumes. He envisages at least ten years` labour before the work is completed. The Committee had also initiated negotiations with Grieg's publisher, C.F. Peters in Frankfurt am Main, who held the copyright to Grieg's production. If 500 binding orders were obtained, Peters would undertake the publication of the twenty-volume work. It further stipulated a legal contract with the Grieg Committee, which was therefore in need of a more formal basis for its existence. Consequently, the letter concludes: "The Committee therefore requests official appointment by the Church and Education Department." The Department acted swiftly, replying the 19th of April with a brief letter of appointment. Hampus Huldt-Nystrøm joined as a new member, and in 1969 Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe assumed the position of chairman, succeeded by Finn Benestad. Statutes were drawn up and approved by the Church and Education Department on the 5th of October 1970. These statutes strengthened ties with the Institute of Musical Science at the University of Oslo, a practical solution since the Committee's researchers were employed there, and, as mentioned, contact with the Bergen Public Library had been considerably reduced since Chief Librarian Bygstad's time. The Grieg Committee assumed an editorial role for the entire critical and scientific edition, while individual Committee members each prepared one volume or more, calling on other Grieg specialists to edit other volumes. Nevertheless, it would be many years before the first volume appeared in print. On the 23rd of November 1977 Lyriske Stykker ("Lyric Pieces"), edited by Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe, was presented in the Academy of Science in Oslo. Over the next 15 years a total of 19 volumes were published, followed three years later by the 20th and final volume. This brought to a conclusion tremendous work, of such impressiveness, such value and such usefulness that it invokes the deepest gratitude to those responsible for propelling the work to its completion - in particular Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe and Finn Benestad. When the project was concluded, the Bergen Public Library was granted the honour of hosting its launching and celebration. This event took place on the 26th of May 1995 in coopration with Norsk Kulturråd, who throughout the entire project had provided it a financial base. With this the cycle was complete. That which Chief Librarian Johannes Bygstad had set in motion, had been accomplished. In the process, cooperation between the Grieg Committee and the Grieg Collection had been close and productive, and for the Grieg Collection this collaboration had led to significant scholarly advances at the same time that the twenty-volume work had more than anything else realised Grieg's wish to make his work available to the public. The "Symphony Case" and other use of Grieg's Music Material It was not only the silverfish in the library vault that led to newspaper reports in the 1970s. As researchers and others gained awareness of the scores, drafts, letters, etc., interest in performing the relatively unknown or unperformed music gradually increased. Disagreement regarding principles for management of the Collection reached all the way to the Parliament (Stortinget), where Member of Parliament Inger Lise Gjørv on the 12th of April 1978 posed the following fundamental question: The Board of the Bergen Public Library has with its Chairwoman's double vote decided not to release the manuscript of Grieg's only symphony.
On the television program "Dagsrevy" Wedneday 18th of January, the Chairwoman stated that this must be regarded as the final decision on this matter. The justification was that the manuscript is the Library's property by testamentary provision. Not even Bergen City Council can overturn the resolution, maintained the Chairwoman.
Does the Minister concur with the Chairwoman's evaluation in this matter,
which after all is a political and cultural issue rather than a library affair, or does the Minister deem the City Council the final authority for such a decision?
Minister Kjølv Egeland responded with a thorough account of the circumstances involving Grieg`s symphony from 1863-64, upon the title page of which Grieg had written "Must never be performed." Referring to an evaluation by the Legal Division of the Justice Department, he stated that this provided grounds for the Bergen City Council to overrule the Library Board's decision. It was the Bergen International Festival that had submitted a request to perform the symphony - as a one-time event which would neither be recorded nor broadcast - during the opening ceremony of Bergen International Festival 1978. The Bergen Public Library Board had rejected the application, and, despite appeals from, among others, the Grieg Fund Board of Trustees, who according to Grieg's will administered the copyrights to his works, the Library Board refused to reconsider the matter. The Church and Education Department, after contact with the Bergen Public Library, had requested a statement from the Legal Division of the Justice Department. The Legal Division concluded that the Bergen City Council had the power to overturn the Library Board's decision, pointing out that rights of ownership to Grieg's material did not necessarily include copyright authority. In his testamentary provisions in favour of the Grieg Fund, Edvard Grieg had transferred copyright powers to the Grieg Fund. In retrospect, one can clearly see that in its eagerness to administer the Collection in Grieg's spirit, the Library Board had here interpreted its authority well beyond what was legally supportable. What is more, the way in which the Bergen International Festival wished to present the symphony no longer seems politically or culturally doubtful today. Nevertheless, it is important that those responsible for the Grieg material ensure that it is employed in a manner that best serves Grieg`s cause. In this light, the "symphony case" has resulted in a thorough re-examination of administrative principles.
The acquisition of Griegs correspondence with C.F. Peters Music Publishing
In 1984 Norwegian authorities became aware that in preserved sections of the music publisher's correspondence in New York were located 375 letters from Grieg to publishers Max Abraham and Henri Hinrichsen, spanning the period 1866 - 1907. In a report to the Department of Culture following their inspection of the collection in December 1984, Finn Benestad and Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe reported that the music archive was more comprehensive than the collections of either the Peters publishing house in Leipzig or the publisher Wilhelm Hansen in Copenhagen. It had been supposed that the Peters manuscripts had been lost during the Second World War, but it came to light that a son of Peters publisher Henri Hinrichsen had inherited the manuscripts, taking them with him upon his emigration to England before the war. When he died without heirs, the material was transferred to the proprietors of the Peters publishing house in New York. It was the publisher's widow who had recognised the value of this material for Norway and had taken contact. The Department of Culture forwarded the case for acquiring the entire Peters archive (which also included the Sinding manuscripts), and on 17th of January 1986 Parliament resolved to make the purchase, allocating 4.75 million crowns to that end. The Parliament also resolved that the Grieg correspondence and music material should be incorporated into the Bergen Public Library. During that year's Bergen Festspill the newly acquired Grieg documents were presented to the public in an extensive exhibition in Grieg Hall.
The 1993 Grieg Anniversary
It had been anticipated that the 150th anniversary would revitalise international interest for Edvard Grieg and his music. Bergen Public Library prepared itself first and foremost by changing staffing priorities so that from 1992 the Grieg Collection could have its own full-time, specially qualified librarian. Next, the Collection gained a handsome room for its display and study when the Chief Librarian`s offices were vacated for Grieg`s benefit, renovated and furnished in appropriate style. Enquiries to the Grieg Collection prior to the anniversary were many and manifold. At the same time, exhibitions and informative material had to be prepared - both for the anniversary committee, of which the Library was an active member, and for its own purposes. Both the Music Department and the Library Administration fell to work for the annivarsary with real enthusiasm. It was a year-long Grieg celebration. But when the party ended, its spirit endured. The heightened popularity of the Grieg Collection testified to a renewed and abiding interest among researchers, media, and music enthusiasts. The Grieg Collection and the Music Department move to Grieg Hall in 1996 Space problems for the Music Department and the Grieg Collection were finally over. With the renovation of Grieg Hall, new quarters were incorporated into the "conference" section of the building. This time the Norwegian Government, via the Department of Culture, provided all that was needed for the acquisition of the new facilities, and during the Festspill of 1996, Minister Åse Kleveland inaugurated the new premises. This relocation provided a much needed breathing space, as well as tolerable working conditions during critical years. However, when expansion work on the venerable main library building has been fully completed, the Grieg Collection will return to its rightful home in Strømgaten. "...that they be maintained and made accessible to the populace of Bergen"
Grieg`s archives and creative achievements are long since known to the world through the efforts of many enthusiasts, yet for a long time it has been necessary to travel to Bergen for close study of the original material. Over the years a steadily growing number of researchers and other interested parties have used the Grieg Collection. Crucial for making this Collection "accessible" is the presence of competent and stabile personnel; consequently, what is required is not only a specially qualified librarian, but also an academic position attached to the Collection. Further, something more than just the efficient handling of enquiries is necessary. Efforts at stimulating interest for Grieg and his music must take many forms, for example:
The Bergen Public Library has mounted several major Grieg exhibitions, many of them for the display of prominent new acquisitions, as in 1962 (the Dan Fog collection) and in 1986 (the Peters material), as well as for large conferences and other special occasions such as: The International Music Archive/Library Congress in Bergen in 1976, the inauguration of Grieg Hall in 1978, Grieg's anniversary in 1993, and the 100th anniversary of "Den Store Musikfesten" in Bergen in 1998. Several of the exhibitions have circulated both domestically and internationally, in Sweden, Denmark and Great Britain.
Grieg to the world
The Grieg Collection must be further developed so that in the end all the material has been processed and organised through transcription, commentary, bibliographical work, data registration and digitisation. In 1988-89 a proposal was made for interactive video, and subsequently for a pilot project for the digitisation of the material. The Library management saw the opportunity for initiating the considerable undertaking of transferring the archive to digital forms, thereby preserving the original documents while simultaneously greatly enhancing their accessibility. The project, lasting from 1990-93, received substantial support from Norsk Kulturråd. It was linked with a NTNF-financed (Royal Norwegian Research Council for Science and Technology) pilot project for scanning technology and digital storage carried out by the Christian Michelsen Institute, Bergen, and Vestlandsforskning (the Western Norway Research Institute) in collaboration). As a side project, a "Total system for the presentation of documents from the
Grieg Collection" was developed, with the Christian Michelsen Institute as the leading partner. When the project was completed there still remained a great deal of scanning, transcribing and proofreading to be done, in addition to the registration of the material in the system. Parts of this work have continued in the ensuing years. For example, the
transcribing of the material has been carried out largely in connection with the extensive publication of Grieg`s correspondance which has been in progress in recent years, mainly under the direction of Finn Benestad. In principle much of the Grieg material has gradually been made accessible through printed publications in libraries, archives and private book collections. Modern technology, however, lends
accessibility an entirely a whole new dimension. The material in the Grieg Collection is an invaluable source for research in the art and culture of Grieg's era. Search motors being developed may make it possible to link material from various important artist/art archives and collections together, thereby encouraging their use in entirely new contexts. The solution, therefore, is to publish the material openly on the internet, disregarding other forms of presentation. "Grieg to the world" project also indicates the fundamental view of the Bergen Public Library on the obligation of owner institution to share their information resources not only with researchers, but also with the interested public. Efforts towards enhanced accessibility have followed two paths, over time interweaving and complementing each other: meticulously annotated editions of the works, correspondence, and other material on the one side; the digitisation, registration, and development of advanced retrieval systems on the other. Thus have the researchers who most utilised the Grieg Collection and its services throughout the years also contributed more than any others to fulfilling Grieg's wish that the Collection be made available to the public. One of these scholars must be mentioned before all others: Finn Benestad, whose work in both its quality and its extent merits the greatest respect. The copyright for Grieg's work has long since expired, and the possibility of improper use or undesirable exploitation is a fact. However, thanks to the efforts of Grieg scholars and performers interest in and knowledge and understanding of the composer and his music has become widespread. Herein lies the best protection.
Updated November 15th 2000, by Dagny Eide & Henrik Kiiehn Nielsen