The photographs were taken at Innisfree Garden from late May through mid-June—except the three of rhododendrons, which thrive on neglect in our front yard.
In the course of coursing around for musical accompaniment, I ran across A Speech to the Garden Club of America, by Wendell Berry. The poem begins like this:
Thank you. I’m glad to know we’re friends, of course;
There are so many outcomes that are worse.
And it ends like this:
. . . Unlike our economic pyre
That draws from ancient rock a fossil fire,
An anti-life of radiance and fume
That burns as power and remains as doom,
The garden delves no deeper than its roots
And lifts no higher than its leaves and fruits.
Edvard Grieg, Lyric Pieces (1867-1901, 66 pieces in 10 volumes)
From the publication of the second book, in 1883, (the first one came out in 1867), Grieg went on to publish collections of Lyric Pieces at regular intervals until 1901. They cover the greater part of Grieg’s life as an established composer, and represent more or less every single facet of his personal style.
No attempt has been made to hide the fact that the lyric pieces gradually became good business, both for Grieg himself, as well as for the publishers. In a letter to Peters, Grieg called them Semmeln – fragrant, fresh-baked, bread – and the fact of the matter is that they were indeed sold like “hot cakes”. No wonder the publisher Peters, in London and Frankfurt, was delighted every time Grieg delivered a manuscript for a new album of piano pieces. He was strongly attached to many of these pieces and enjoyed playing them, while there were others that he was not pleased with at all. In a letter to his friend, Emil Horneman, he writes:
My Silence is unforgivable, because I honestIy haven’t done anything, other than the so-called, “Lyric Pieces”, which are surrounding me like lice and fleas in the country. (Letter to Emil Horneman, 15 September 1898) [citation]
Emil Gilels performs a selection of Lyric Pieces here:
Credits: The sources for quotations may be found at the links in the text. As always on the blog unless indicated otherwise, the photographs are mine.