20 May 2011

Grieg in Manchester

Nina and Edvard Grieg, dated 1906
(RNCM Archive ref AB/211)
Manchester Camerata will be performing two concerts in the RNCM Concert Hall this weekend, 21 -22 May. Linked by the music of Beethoven, the concerts feature students from the RNCM's conducting courses. On Saturday, the programme includes Two Elegiac Melodies Op 34, by Edvard Grieg.  Grieg and his wife Nina became friends of Adolph Brodsky and his wife Anna after meeting in Leipzig in the 1880s.

As the second Principal of the Royal Manchester College of Music, Brodsky's papers are held in the RNCM Archives. Correspondence between the friends dates from 1890 and continues with Anna's sister Olga even after the deaths of the Brodskys in 1929. The letters are in German except for those written by Nina during the First World War, which are in English. There are about thirty letters from Edvard to Adolph and about a hundred from Nina to Anna.

When Grieg visited Manchester in November 1897, he stayed with the Brodskys.  One of his letters to Anna gives a flavour of their relationship:
"We arrive on Wednesday 24th [November] at 2.30 and will go direct to 41 Acomb Street. And may I ask straight away, Frau Brodsky, if I can have at 4 o’clock a beefsteak (underdone!). I know this is impudent, and you see for yourself that you should have let us stay in a hotel. But before a concert you must not be offended if I am very strict about my food. It is absolutely necessary. The concert is at 7.30 and I must rest beforehand. And there is one more thing you must permit: Bechsteins are sending a pianino; will you please have it put into my room… As soon as I arrive I intend to exercise my fingers a little in my room, so I should be grateful for a fairly warm room. And now I will leave you in peace!" (RNCM Archive ref. AB/587)
The online catalogue for the Brodsky papers can be searched here

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