Peer Gynt Suite No.1 (includes Morning and In the Hall of the Mountain King)
Edvard Grieg

23

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The second highest of Grieg's 4 entries in the Ultimate Hall of Fame. This made it into the top 10 just once, reaching number 9 in 1997.

Many a TV advertisement (or, dare we say it, telephone on-hold service) has used the opening movement, Morning from Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 to create a musical mood. The fourth movement depicting life 'In the Hall of the Mountain King', meanwhile, will forever be remembered by thousands as the Alton Towers theme tune. Grieg, however, had very different ideas at the forefront of his mind when he composed this glorious music.

He had been asked by the playwright Henrik Ibsen to set to music his quintessentially Scandinavian play Peer Gynt. The composer responded by creating a collection of tableaux, some of which were later formed into two separate suites. He didn't have much faith in them, feeling under pressure from Ibsen to come up with the melodies as quickly as possible, but they were received with huge enthusiasm by the Norwegian audiences of his day.