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Although born in Norway, Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) was considered the father of Danish literature because of the many years he spent studying and writing in Denmark. In 1884, Grieg was asked to compose a cantata honoring the 200th anniversary of Holberg's birth. Although Grieg fulfilled the commission, he was dissatisfied with the result and surpressed the score.
As though to replace the failed cantata, Grieg composed a suite of dances for piano that he dedicated to Holberg. Although he adapted the forms and rhythms of 17th century dances–Prelude, Sarabande, Gavotte, Musette, Air, and Rigaudon–he infused them with the spirit and character of late 19th century music. The composer later transcribed the Suite for string orchestra. Today, the Holberg Suite continues to be a repertoire favorite both in its orchestral transciption and in its original piano version.
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