For those who are not very familiar with Wedding Day at Troldhaugen (WDAT), let me educate you for a few minutes before I delve into day one of my journey. WDAT is essentially broken into two parts, with the first part being repeated at the end with some extra measures to close out the piece. The first part is comprised of 56 measures, the second part is comprised of 50 measures, and the final part is comprised of 65 measures (again, it is a repeat of the first part, with a few extra measures tacked-on to complete the piece). WDAT was written by Grieg, most likely to commemorate his marriage to his first cousin Nina. Their home was at Troldhaugen, Norway, which is just outside of Bergen. When I listen to this piece, I close my eyes and can see the events of the wedding day taking place. In the first part, the business of the wedding day is evident in the tempo and intensity of the music as it builds and builds until it breaks into the second part. When the second part arrives, it is markedly softer and a little bit slower. The treble and bass talk in turn to each other, almost like Edvard and Nina slipped away from the festivities for a few moments and are having a moving conversation. Then, at the end of this section, they enter the wedding day again and all it's business. The piece carries on as it did before the middle part, but has a very strong send-off at the end. So, the next time that you happen to get to hear WDAT in it's entirety, just think of the wedding scene and the bride/groom conversation and you will appreciate this piece anew.
Now, on to day one of practice! I have chosen to focus on the middle-section first (the conversation I mentioned above). Today, I practiced both the right and left hand parts separately over the first 18 measures. Wow, that sure brings back memories to practice a measure repeatedly and then move on to the next and the next, etc. After about 30 minutes, I put both the right and left hands together and played through these 18 measures nearly flawlessly (with the music, of course). Before today, I had barely been able to stumble through this while trying to sightread. Big confidence booster for me! I practiced some isolated measures with both hands, but mainly focused on learning them separately for now. Tomorrow, I will run through the first 18 measures as a sort of reinforcement and then move on to the next ~18 measures. The middle section should be mastered by the end of this week!
I will find a little time this week to write some more details about who Edvard Grieg was.