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Things to do in Bergen, Norway: visiting Troldhaugen, the Edvard Grieg Museum

Troldhaugen

Even if you think you don’t know Edvard Grieg’s music, you’re likely to recognise it. In the Hall of the Mountain King, one of the 19th Century Norwegian composer’s most famous works, has been covered by all sorts of bands, from The Who to Electric Light Orchestra, and was adapted into the track Hair Up for the hit film Trolls. Looking down into the fjord from Troldhaugen, Grieg’s home above the city of Bergen, the light spookiness of his music begins to make sense.

Troldhaugen

We were at Troldhaugen as part of a trip with Visit Norway, and had just arrived in Bergen to torrential rain. It rains a lot in Bergen. The coastal city is surrounded by seven mountains, so it attracts plenty of clouds. Luckily it’s one of those cities where rain and mist just seem to add to its charms. Bergen caters well for wet weather: you can visit four art museums, the KODE group, as well as the homes of three major composers, including Edvard Grieg’s.

After driving along a rough road to Troldhaugen, past expensive-looking houses with panoramic views of the fjord, we sheltered from the rain in the modern section of the museum.

Troldhaugen

Troldhaugen

Troldhaugen and the museum were quiet when we visited, in February. A scaled-back programme of events runs throughout the year, including Little Grieg, a story reconstruction of Grieg’s childhood aimed at the over-7s. Troldhaugen becomes much busier in the summer months; the café opens in April, and then from May to September people flock in their thousands (32,000 last year) to concerts held in the performance space.

Troldhaugen

The calm, intimate concert hall has a view down to Grieg’s composing cabin, and beyond it to the fjord. Most popular are the lunchtime concerts, which only last half an hour (perfect for fidgety children), and to which tourists, cruise trippers and Bergen residents travel via a shuttle bus running daily from the city. Bergen’s inhabitants feel a keen sense of pride in their heritage; 30m NOK was donated by local businesses for Troldhaugen’s 2015 renovation.

Troldhaugen

Troldhaugen villa

Troldhaugen villa itself is a tall, airy building painted in the cream-and-sage shades chosen by the most wealthy classes of the time. Grieg requested a home that let in lots of light, and which felt close to nature; Troldhaugen’s 4m high walls and large windows do just that. Until it became a museum in 1920, it was run as a home, and although it’s stuffed with pictures, furniture and ornaments, it has the clean, woody smell of a house built using trees that until yesterday were growing in the forest. The place is full of quirky details that tell a story about the life he and his wife Nina led there.

Troldhaugen

Grieg’s living room, where private concerts are held after museum opening hours

Nina was Grieg’s first cousin, a talented singer and an eccentric who carved out her own personal style, including occasionally wearing trousers (unheard of in a woman at that time), and smoking cigars. The couple had small furniture specially made (they were both tiny – Grieg was only 1m 52cm), with castors put on the bottom, so they could easily trundle the furniture round their living room. The duo loved parties, and on display is a ‘skol’, a traditional Nordic beer drinking bowl that was passed round during toasts, as well as platters for the oysters they liked to serve.

Troldhaugen

A traditional Nordic ‘skol’

The museum runs guided tours of 35-40 minutes, covering Grieg’s life, his friendships (he was well-connected, listing Ibsen and Hans Cristian Andersen among his close friends) and his musical career. As well as the villa, the well-kept grounds around it are a nice place to wander, have a picnic, and gaze into the beautiful fjord.

Troldhaugen

Henrik Ibsen, one of Grieg’s friends. Grieg’s Peer Gynt was composed for Ibsen’s play of the same name

Troldhaugen is open daily, apart from over Christmas and New Year. Tickets are 100 NOK for adults; under-16s are free. Prices for the concerts vary. You can find out more here:

Troldhaugen – the Edvard Grieg museum

Visit Bergen

Fjord Norway

Visit Norway

If you want to read more about our press trip to Norway, here’s the whole four-day itinerary. I’ve posted here about the village of Flåm and here about our board boat Fjordsafari, and the journey on the Flåm Railway. And if you’re wondering just what In the Hall of the Mountain King sounds like, this video of our trip down the fjords will remind you:

  • Flåm
    Flåm, Stegastein, the Fretheim Hotel and Ægir Brewpub

Troldhaugen

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59 Comments

  • Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    February 28, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    A fascinating insight into a gifted composer. The one piece by Grieg which is special to me is ‘Morning’ from Peer Gynt. I remember dancing to it as a very little girl for a school performance and a few years ago I chose it for my dad’s funeral as it was an uplifting piece and meant a lot to both of us.
    I did have a trip to Bergen many years ago with my mum and dad – we took the boat from Newcastle – but I just remember rainy streets!
    #citytripping

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      That’s a nice association, Trish. You should go to Troldhaugen if you can x

      Reply
  • Lolo
    February 28, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Have to be honest, never heard of this guy, but the story and background info sound interesting. #CityTripping

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      I bet you’ll have heard his music!

      Reply
  • Wherejogoes
    February 28, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I haven’t heard of Edvard Grieg but this is a fascinating place and to have the concert hall there as well as the museum area is perfect. Thanks for sharing with #citytripping

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      Yes, it was small but had a lot going for it.

      Reply
  • Catherine's Cultural Wednesdays
    March 1, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    I want to hear music in that concert hall! #citytripping

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 10:10 pm

      You should, Catherine. I do too!

      Reply
  • Plutonium Sox
    March 2, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Wow, what a place! That concert hall with the grand piano is incredible. I’d love to visit, I really like classical music as I was quite a keen violinist until the children turned up so this is just my sort of thing. Yet another reason to visit Norway!
    Nat.x

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      Oh yes Nat, you should definitely try and go. x

      Reply
  • Elizabeth (Wander Mum)
    March 2, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    I was just googling Grieg’s music and hit with a blast from the past…I recall In the Hall of the Mountain King from Jet Set Willy, a game I used to play on our Spectrum ZX !! Now that’s going back! I’m familiar with quite a few of his works actually. Interesting to hear more about him and where he lived and got inspired. Thanks for dredging up some old memories! I’d like to make some new ones with a trip to Bergen one day ! #citytripping

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      That’s so funny! I wonder what Grieg would have made of that particular use of his music….

      Reply
  • Wandermust mummy
    March 3, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Great photos – must admit don’t know his music but sure I would recognise if I heard it #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      You definitely would!

      Reply
  • tots2travel
    March 3, 2017 at 8:02 am

    It looks like a multi-faceted place to explore. And at first glance you wouldn’t think the venue screams ‘children’ but the fact they put on concerts for youngsters really helps as you know you’re welcome and you know the material will be engaging. What a fascinating place to visit.
    #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      Yes, I could see kids enjoying themselves here, even though it’s not an obvious choice.

      Reply
  • Ian - Imps and Ramblers
    March 3, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Oh, that Hall of the Mountain King. 😉 I have always wanted to visit Norway and your whole trip seems to have been wonderful. #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      Yes, it gets everywhere, doesn’t it?

      Reply
  • That concert hall looks absolutely stunning – I would love to catch a performance. I like that under 16’s are free too 😀

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      I know – they seem good about that in Norway.

      Reply
  • Wherejogoes
    March 3, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Fascinating and beautiful place. I have never been to Norway but your posts have really inspired me. How wonderful to have a concert hall there. #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      Yes, it was a real surprise.

      Reply
  • Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    March 3, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Just been to watch your video – the music is perfect with it. Am going to hunt out my Grieg CD and play it while I do the ironing – not the same as being in Norway though!!
    #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:46 pm

      Ah, but I bet it’ll make it that bit more pleasant! x

      Reply
  • Tanja (the Red phone box travels)
    March 3, 2017 at 11:01 am

    interesting museum. I think I saw once a ballet based on his music:) #culturedkids

    Reply
  • Cindy
    March 3, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    I would love to visit and watch a performance there. Great video by the way of your trip! I didn’t recognise his name but you’re right, I recognised the song the moment I played the video. What an incredible place to visit; I’ve enjoyed following along with your photos on Instagram. #CulturedKids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      Thank you Cindy!

      Reply
  • Corey @ fifi + hop
    March 3, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    You’re right – we’ve all heard that song! Love the video! The atmospheric, moody landscape seems fitting for a talented composer..I’m sure he drew great inspiration from his home. Interesting he married his first cousin – a little juice to the story too ;). #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:35 pm

      I know! How the other half lived, eh…..

      Reply
  • Welsh Cakes and Wellies
    March 3, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    What a fascinating place to visit I love his music. It’s also good to hear that they don’t charge for children. I’ve only ever been to Norway with work, I’d love to go back for a proper visit. #CultureKids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      Yes, they seem to be good about letting children in for free in Norway.

      Reply
  • Allison
    March 4, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Sounds like a very interesting museum. It’s always fascinating to me to being able to see things from the life of important people of history. It’s like going back in time almost. #CulturedKids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:33 pm

      It did feel like stepping into the last century….

      Reply
  • Cathy (Mummytravels)
    March 4, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I would love to hear a performance of Grieg here, what an incredible experience to listen to his music within shot of where he composed it. I also rather wish I had the writing equivalent of a composing cabin! #citytripping

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      I know. I’m not surprised he was inspired – the views were incredible.

      Reply
  • Jonny (Daisy the bus)
    March 4, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    We’re big fans of Grieg here in the Daisy the bus household, with his piano concerto frequently gracing our CD player and Child #1 currently studying one of his shorter piano pieces. Saying that, I never knew he was so small! Hopefully I’ll get to pay homage by visiting this place during our visit to western Norway later this year. Thanks for the tip! #CulturedKids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      Oh I’m so excited for you! You’ll love it there, I’m sure.

      Reply
  • Lauren
    March 5, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    It looks such an amazing place to visit, the museum and concert hall look fascinating. Love the video coverage as well, makes me want to get booking for a visit to Norway!

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      You should!

      Reply
  • Daisy - DaisLikeThese
    March 6, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    This sounds like such an interesting place to visit, and the scenery is just fantastic. I love the idea of the short concerts in the museum at lunchtime! #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      I know – a short burst of culture!

      Reply
  • intrepidbebe
    March 6, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Looks lovely. I am really keep to get to Norway some day #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      You should definitely go!

      Reply
  • Love Arts Berlin
    March 6, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    So so interesting. I used to work for a music picture library and would often look at Grieg pics of Norway and wonder what it was like. Great to find out a bit more and that picture of the concert hall is just amazing. Beautiful. #CulturedKids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      Grieg’s music fits so well with the landscape. You’re righ, it really is beautiful.

      Reply
  • Annabel
    March 7, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Great to know they have short concerts which would appeal to children, so important to make classical music accessible to kids. Taking children to the museum and concert would be a great excursion. #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      Yes, I think kids might like this place. There are some nice spaces outside for a family picnic, too.

      Reply
  • Katy
    March 9, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Taking good note per our conversation yesterday. I love the sound of the short concerts. Loving music of all types is a gift I hope we can give our children. Grieg sounds like an interesting chap! #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:02 pm

      You should try and include this in your itinerary if you can, Katy! x

      Reply
  • Jenni (Museum Diary)
    March 9, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Sounds amazing! I totally want to go there!

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:02 pm

      You should, Jenni. You’d love it, I’m sure.

      Reply
  • Jenny
    March 12, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Half an hour concerts sound ideal when you are travelling with kids! What a truly beautiful and haunting place!

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:00 pm

      Everyone did a little gasp when we walked into the concert space….

      Reply
  • Lisa - FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com
    March 14, 2017 at 9:39 am

    So cool you visit places like these with your kids! Our little one is only 3,5 so a bit too young still, but we do try to make him listen to different types of music. Haven’t tried Grieg yet! Norway sounds fascinating! #CulturedKids

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      I bet he’d like Grieg’s music. It’s very accessible.

      Reply
  • Alice
    March 16, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    The whole trip to Norway looks amazing – the living room picture gave me a flash back to an old production of Hedda I saw in Manchester ages ago. They’d obviously done their homework and got the 19th Century Norwegian look down to a T!

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 16, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      That’s really interesting – I wonder if they came to Bergen on a research recce? Lucky them, if so….

      Reply
  • Emma Raphael
    March 28, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    What a fascinating museum. When I read the title, I thought “no, never heard of him”, but as I read on, I knew that I had. In the Hall of the Mountain King is such an atmospheric piece of music, and a great favourite of one of my teachers when I was very small! I remember doing music and movement to this! 😀

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 30, 2017 at 9:20 pm

      Yes, I went through exactly the same thing! It’s music that brings memories flooding back.

      Reply

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