The house at today’s Talstraße 10 was built in 1874 by Otto Brückwald (1841-1917), who also designed Bayreuth’s Festspielhaus. The building was commissioned by Dr. Max Abraham (1831-1900), at the time the director and sole owner of the music publishing company C. F. Peters. After many years of changeful history and a period during which the building fell into decay during the GDR era, it was restored extensively during the first decade of this century. In November 2005, the Grieg Memorial Site was officially inaugurated.
The owner of the publishing house, Dr. Max Abraham, and his successor Henri Hinrichsen provided Grieg with a room installed especially for him, where he could stay and work. He was welcome to stay here whenever he was in Leipzig, which was often the case during his extensive European concert tours.
Starting in 1875, Grieg was a continuous and welcome guest at C. F. Peters – and remained so until his death in 1907!
Grieg was an accomplished pianist, and as such, he performed many of his own works, for example the solo part of his Piano Concerto in A-minor Op. 16. He also often appeared as a chamber music partner and song accompanist.
Grieg arranged (but did not compose!) his popular Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 at Talstraße 10, consisting of Morning Mood, The Death of Åse, Anitra’s Dance, and In the Hall of the Mountain King.
The Who-is-Who of contemporary composers frequented the house of C. F. Peters, starting with the permanent guest Edvard Grieg and also including Piotr Tchaikovsky and Max Reger. The latter dined here with his host on the evening before his death before retiring to Hotel Hentschel, where he succumbed to a heart attack.
There is uncertainty about this among the experts. At any rate, Grieg was very fond of German beer. It is likely that the food served was typical of the time and region, which means overwhelmingly non-vegetarian and certainly non-vegan fare. ????
We know that Grieg played his Ballad in G-minor Op. 24, his largest solo piano work both in length and ambition, for the publisher Dr. Max Abraham in at the music salon at Talstraße in July 1876 (Grieg was on his way to the Bayreuth Festival, which he was to cover as a music critic).
Grieg considered this Ballad in the Form of Variations on a Norwegian Melody, which he had written under the impression of the death of both his parents shortly after one another, one of his most important compositions, “written with a bleeding heart in days of mourning and desperation.”
The conductor Iver Holter, who attended this private performance, spoke of an “unforgettable impression” the ballad made upon him at first hearing. He reported that Grieg was not only physically exhausted and drenched in sweat afterwards, but also so perturbed and moved that he was unable to speak for quite a while afterwards.
Grieg himself referred to the occasion almost thirty years later in a letter to Henri Hinrichsen, the nephew and successor of Dr. Max Abraham:
I remember being very unhappy many years ago, when I had to play my Ballad Op. 24 for Dr. Abraham, because I was convinced that it could not please anyone. When I had ended, however, to my surprise he said: “A great, serious work, which I will be happy to purchase, for it will give your name even greater stature.” Or words to that effect. And time has proven him right.
It is also known that every time C. F. Peters published a new volume of Lyrical Pieces, the Norwegian flag flew in the garden of Talstraße 10 in celebration, for Grieg’s character pieces were extremely popular with piano enthusiasts all over the world, and played no small part in the publishing house’s international success.
A small permanent exhibition on Edvard Grieg’s life and work is mounted on panels. Glass cases display facsimiles of autographs and first editions. There is also a portrait of Edvard Grieg dated to 1890, painted by the Norwegian painter Eilif Peterssen (1852-1928).
The Musiksalon with its original wood panelling and a historical Steinway grand piano model B takes visitors back to the time around 1900.