Q&A: Let's talk repertoire

Is the obligatory repertoire in the Grieg Competition a huge obstacle?

Some of you have sent us questions about this year’s repertoire. Some have been worried that the obligatory repertoire represents too much of a challenge.

We have therefore turned to the Competition Director Sigurd S. Sandmo and asked him about the intriguing facts about obligatory repertoire:

Q: Let us take this round by round: How challenging is the repertoire?

A: First of all, we have tried to be nice. We want young international talents to discover Grieg’s piano music, but many of these pieces are short. The intention is not to create obstacles for candidates, but to add profile and atmosphere to the competition itself.

In the pre-qualification we only ask for one Lyric Piece by Grieg (some last for less than a minute), and most candidates will have a lot to choose from when it comes to the rest of the pre-qualification repertoire.

In the first round we ask for two pieces by Grieg, one from the famous Peer Gynt music, and one from the Peasant Dances Op. 72. This needs preparation, of course. But again, these are not necessarily big pieces. In the second round, there is no obligatory repertoire at all.

Q: But it says MAY include about the modern piece by Christian Blom? Shouldn’t this be understood as a strong recommendation?

A: We hope many contestants will include Blom’s great piece, and we have a prize for the best performance as well, but it has nothing to do with your chances to win the Grieg Competition. None of our two last winners actually included the contemporary piece, nor did they include a bigger Grieg work in the semi-final.

Q: I understand. But the semi-final looks frightening with all the Grieg titles?

A: Yes, but there is no reason to fear! The songs with the great Norwegian soprano Ann Helen Moen will be one of the highlights of the competition, and every candidate should prepare two. Some of these, like Zur Rosenzeit, are great pieces from the song literature. You will never regret investing some time in this.

The rest of the semi-final repertoire is actually free, and in the final there are eight piano concertos to choose from. “

Q: To be honest: How many minutes of Grieg is necessary to play to win the Grieg Competition?

A: I haven’t actually thought about it, but let me see… Perhaps only around 7 minutes and 22 seconds, but minutes and seconds are not important. The point is that there are so many possibilities of almost free repertoire, and so many ways to win the Grieg Competition. But Grieg’s music and the concept of his homely atmosphere and historic surroundings add so much value to the whole event. It is important to play Grieg in Bergen. You should all come and do it!

Read more about the repertoire here

Competition Director Sigurd Sandmo. Photo by Dag Fosse.