Peer Gynt (/ˈpɪər ˈɡɪnt/; Norwegian
pronunciation: [ˈpæːr ˈjynt]) is a five-act play in verse by
the Norwegian dramatist
Henrik Ibsen published in 1867. Written in
Danish—the common written language of Denmark and
Norway in Ibsen's
lifetime—it is one of the most widely performed Norwegian plays.
Ibsen believed Per Gynt, the Norwegian fairy tale on which the play is
loosely based, to be rooted in fact, and several of the characters are
modelled after Ibsen's own family, notably his parents
Knud Ibsen and
Marichen Altenburg. He was also generally inspired by Peter Christen
Asbjørnsen's collection of Norwegian fairy tales, published in 1845
(Huldre-Eventyr og Folkesagn).
Peer Gynt chronicles the journey of its titular character from the
Norwegian mountains to the North African desert. According to Klaus
Van Den Berg, "its origins are romantic, but the play also anticipates
the fragmentations of emerging modernism" and the "cinematic script
blends poetry with social satire and realistic scenes with surreal
Peer Gynt has also been described as the story of a life
based on procrastination and avoidance. The play was written in
Italy and a first edition of 1,250 copies was published on 14 November
1867 by the Danish publisher
Gyldendal in Copenhagen. Although the
first edition swiftly sold out, a reprint of two thousand copies,
which followed after only fourteen days, didn't sell out until seven
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson admired the play's "satire on Norwegian
egotism, narrowness, and self-sufficiency" and described it as
"magnificent", Hans Christian Andersen,
Georg Brandes and Clemens
Petersen all joined the widespread hostility, Petersen writing that
the play was not poetry. Enraged by Petersen's criticisms in
Ibsen defended his work by arguing that it "is poetry; and
if it isn't, it will become such. The conception of poetry in our
country, in Norway, shall shape itself according to this book."
Despite this defense of his poetic achievement in Peer Gynt, the play
was his last to employ verse; from
The League of Youth (1869) onwards,
Ibsen was to write drama only in prose.
Peer Gynt in deliberate disregard of the limitations that
the conventional stagecraft of the 19th century imposed on drama.
Its forty scenes move uninhibitedly in time and space and between
consciousness and the unconscious, blending folkloric fantasy and
Raymond Williams compares
Peer Gynt with
August Strindberg's early drama Lucky Peter's Journey (1882) and
argues that both explore a new kind of dramatic action that was beyond
the capacities of the theatre of the day; both created "a sequence of
images in language and visual composition" that "became technically
possible only in film."
Peer Gynt was first performed in
Christiania (now Oslo) on 24 February 1876, with original music
Edvard Grieg that includes some of today's most recognized
classical pieces, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" and "Morning
Mood". It was published in German translation in 1881, in English in
1892, and in French in 1896. The contemporary influence of the
play continues into the twenty-first century.
3.1 Act I
3.2 Act II
3.3 Act III
3.4 Act IV
3.5 Act V
5 Writing process
7 Grieg's music
8 Notable productions
Peer Gynt Festival
Peer Gynt Sculpture Park
14 External links
Peer Gynt was written in Danish, the common written language of
Norway since the Dano-Norwegian union and throughout
Ibsen's lifetime. The language was usually referred to as Danish in
Denmark and as Norwegian in Norway, although it was essentially the
same written language, and is therefore often called Dano-Norwegian.
Due to its basis in Norwegian folktales, the play uses a few
Norwegianisms in its vocabulary and idiom, but is otherwise written in
a language identical to standard Danish.
Peer Gynt was originally
published by the Danish publisher
Copenhagen and targeted
at both the Danish and the Norwegian market in its original language.
Åse, a peasant’s widow
Peer Gynt, her son
Two old women with corn–sacks
Aslak, a blacksmith
A master cook
A man and a wife, newcomers to the district
Solveig and little Helga, their daughters
The farmer at Hægstad
Ingrid, his daughter
The bridegroom and his parents
Three alpine dairymaids
A green-clad woman, a troll princess
The Old Man of the Mountains, a troll king (Also known as The Mountain
Multiple troll-courtiers, troll-maidens and troll-urchins
A couple of witches
Brownies, nixies, gnomes, etc.
An ugly brat
The Bøyg, a voice in the darkness
Kari, a cottar’s wife
Herr von Eberkopf
Gentlemen on their travels
Anitra, daughter of a
The Memnon statue
The Sphinx at Giza
Dr. Begriffenfeldt, director of the madhouse at Cairo
Huhu, a language–reformer from the coast of Malabar
Hussein, an eastern Minister
A fellow with a royal mother
Several madmen and their keepers
A Norwegian skipper
A strange passenger
Peer Gynt thinks he is a pastor)
A funeral party
A lean person
Peer Gynt is the son of the once highly regarded Jon Gynt. Jon Gynt
spent all his money on feasting and living lavishly, and had to leave
his farm to become a wandering salesman, leaving his wife and son
behind in debt. Åse, the mother, wished to raise her son to restore
the lost fortune of his father, but Peer is soon to be considered
useless. He is a poet and a braggart, not like the youngest son from
Norwegian fairy tales, the "Ash Lad", with whom he shares some
As the play opens, Peer gives an account of a reindeer hunt that went
awry, a famous theatrical scene generally known as "the Buckride". His
mother scorns him for his vivid imagination, and taunts him because he
spoiled his chances with Ingrid, the daughter of the richest farmer.
Peer leaves for Ingrid's wedding, scheduled for the following day,
because he may still get a chance with the bride. His mother follows
quickly to stop him from shaming himself completely.
Per Gynt, the hero of the folk-story that
Ibsen loosely based Peer
At the wedding, the other guests taunt and laugh at Peer, especially
the local blacksmith, Aslak, who holds a grudge after an earlier
brawl. In the same wedding, Peer meets a family of
from another valley. He instantly notices the elder daughter, Solveig,
and asks her to dance. She refuses because her father would
disapprove, and because Peer's reputation has preceded him. She
leaves, and Peer starts drinking. When he hears the bride has locked
herself in, he seizes the opportunity, runs away with her, and spends
the night with her in the mountains.
Peer is banished for kidnapping Ingrid. As he wanders the mountains,
his mother, Åse, and Solveig's father search for him. Peer meets
three amorous dairymaids who are waiting to be courted by trolls (a
folklore motif from Gudbrandsdalen). He becomes highly intoxicated
with them and spends the next day alone suffering from a hangover. He
runs head-first into a rock and swoons, and the rest of the second act
probably takes place in Peer's dreams.
He comes across a woman clad in green, who claims to be the daughter
of the troll mountain king. Together they ride into the mountain hall,
and the troll king gives Peer the opportunity to become a troll if
Peer would marry his daughter. Peer agrees to a number of conditions,
but declines in the end. He is then confronted with the fact that the
green-clad woman is with child. Peer denies this; he claims not to
have touched her, but the wise troll king replies that he begat the
child in his head. Crucial for the plot and understanding of the play
is the question asked by the troll king: What is the difference
between troll and man?
The answer given by the Old Man of the Mountain is: "Out there, where
sky shines, humans say: 'To thyself be true.' In here, trolls say: 'Be
true to yourself and to hell with the world.'" Egoism is a typical
trait of the trolls in this play. From then on, Peer uses this as his
motto, always proclaiming that he is himself. He then meets one of the
most interesting characters, the
Bøyg — a creature who has no real
description. Asked the question "Who are you?" The
"Myself". In time, Peer also takes the Bøyg's important saying as a
motto: "Go around". The rest of his life, he "beats around the bush"
instead of facing himself or the truth.
Upon awaking, Peer is confronted by Helga, Solveig's sister, who gives
him food and regards from her sister. Peer gives the girl a silver
button for Solveig to keep and asks that she not forget him.
As an outlaw, Peer struggles to build his own cottage in the hills.
Solveig turns up and insists on living with him. She has made her
choice, she says, and there will be no return for her. Peer is
delighted and welcomes her, but as she enters the cabin, an
elderly-appearing woman in green garments appears with a limping boy
at her side.
This is the green-clad woman from the mountain hall, and her
half-human brat is the child begotten by Peer from his mind during his
stay there. She has cursed Peer by forcing him to remember her and all
his previous sins, when facing Solveig. Peer hears a ghostly voice
saying, "Go roundabout, Peer", and decides to leave. He tells Solveig
he has something heavy to fetch. He returns in time for his mother's
death, and then sets off overseas.
Peer is away for many years, taking part in various occupations and
playing various roles including that of a businessman engaged in
enterprises on the coast of Morocco. Here, he explains his view of
life, and we learn that he is a businessman taking part in unethical
transactions, including sending heathen images to China and trading
slaves. In his defense, he points out that he has also sent
missionaries to China, and he treated his slaves well.
His companions rob him, after he decides to support the Turks in
suppressing a Greek revolt, and leave him alone on the shore. He then
finds some stolen
Bedouin gear, and, in these clothes, he is hailed as
a prophet by a local tribe. He tries to seduce Anitra, the chieftain's
daughter, but she steals his money and rings, gets away, and leaves
Then he decides to become a historian and travels to Egypt. He wanders
through the desert, passing the
Colossi of Memnon
Colossi of Memnon and the Sphinx. As
he addresses the Sphinx, believing it to be the Bøyg, he encounters
the keeper of the local madhouse, himself insane, who regards Peer as
the bringer of supreme wisdom. Peer comes to the madhouse and
understands that all of the patients live in their own worlds, being
themselves to such a degree that no one cares for anyone else. In his
youth, Peer had dreamt of becoming an emperor. In this place, he is
finally hailed as one — the emperor of the "self". Peer
despairs and calls for the "Keeper of all fools", i.e., God.
Finally, on his way home as an old man, he is shipwrecked. Among those
on board, he meets the Strange Passenger, who wants to make use of
Peer's corpse to find out where dreams have their origin. This
passenger scares Peer out of his wits. Peer lands on shore bereft of
all of his possessions, a pitiful and grumpy old man.
Back home in Norway,
Peer Gynt attends a peasant funeral and an
auction, where he offers for sale everything from his earlier life.
The auction takes place at the very farm where the wedding once was
held. Peer stumbles along and is confronted with all that he did not
do, his unsung songs, his unmade works, his unwept tears, and his
questions that were never asked. His mother comes back and claims that
her deathbed went awry; he did not lead her to heaven with his
Peer escapes and is confronted with the Button-molder, who maintains
that Peer's soul must be melted down with other faulty goods unless he
can explain when and where in life he has been "himself". Peer
protests. He has been only that, and nothing else. Then he meets the
troll king, who states that Peer has been a troll, not a man, most of
The Button-molder comes along and says that he has to come up with
something if he is not to be melted down. Peer looks for a priest to
whom to confess his sins, and a character named "The Lean One" (who is
the Devil) turns up. The Lean One believes Peer cannot be counted a
real sinner who can be sent to Hell; he has committed no grave sin.
Peer despairs in the end, understanding that his life is forfeit; he
is nothing. But at the same moment, Solveig starts to sing —
the cabin Peer built is close at hand, but he dares not enter. The
Bøyg in Peer tells him "go around". The Button-molder shows up and
demands a list of sins, but Peer has none to give, unless Solveig can
vouch for him. Then Peer breaks through to Solveig, asking her to
forgive his sins. But she answers: "You have not sinned at all, my
Peer does not understand — he believes himself lost. Then he
asks her: "Where has
Peer Gynt been since we last met? Where was I as
the one I should have been, whole and true, with the mark of
God on my
brow?" She answers; "In my faith, in my hope, in my love." Peer
screams, calls his mother, and hides himself in her lap. Solveig sings
her lullaby for him, and we might presume he dies in this last scene
of the play, although there are neither stage directions nor dialogue
to indicate that he actually does.
Behind the corner, the Button-molder, who is sent by God, still waits,
with the words: "Peer, we shall meet at the last crossroads, and then
we shall see if... I'll say no more."
Klaus Van Den Berg argues that Peer Gynt,
"is a stylistic minefield: its origins are romantic, but the play also
anticipates the fragmentations of emerging Modernism. Chronicling
Peer's journey from the Norwegian mountains to the North African
desert, the cinematic script blends poetry with social satire and
realistic scenes with surreal ones. The irony of isolated individuals
in a mass society infuses Ibsen's tale of two seemingly incompatible
lovers—the deeply committed Solveig and the superficial Peer, who is
more a surface for projections than a coherent character. The
simplest conclusion one may draw from Peer Gynt, is expressed in the
eloquent prose of the author: "if you lie; are you real?"
The literary critic
Harold Bloom of New York University in his book
The Western Canon has challenged the conventional reading of Peer
"Far more than Goethe's Faust, Peer is the one nineteenth-century
literary character who has the largeness of the grandest characters of
Renaissance imaginings. Dickens, Tolstoy, Stendhal, Hugo, even Balzac
have no single figure quite so exuberant, outrageous, vitalistic as
Peer Gynt. He merely seems initially to be an unlikely candidate for
such eminence: what is he, we say, except a kind of Norwegian roaring
boy, marvelously attractive to women, a kind of bogus poet, a
narcissist, absurd self-idolator, a liar, seducer, bombastic
self-deceiver? But this is paltry moralizing, all too much like the
scholarly chorus that rants against Falstaff. True, Peer, unlike
Falstaff, is not a great wit. But in the Yahwistic Biblical sense,
Peer the scamp bears the Blessing: more life."
On 5 January 1867
Ibsen wrote to Frederik Hegel, his publisher, with
his plan for the play: it would be "a long dramatic poem, having as
its principal a part-legendary, part-fictional character from
Norwegian folklore during recent times. It will bear no resemblance to
Brand, and will contain no direct polemics or anything of that
He began to write
Peer Gynt on 14 January, employing a far greater
variety of metres in its rhymed verse than he had used in his previous
verse plays Brand (written 1865) or
Love's Comedy (written 1862).
The first two acts were completed in
Rome and the third in
Casamicciola on the north of the island of Ischia.
During this time,
Ibsen told Vilhelm Bergsøe that "I don't think the
play's for acting" when they discussed the possibility of staging the
play's image of a casting-ladle "big enough to re-cast human beings
Ibsen sent the three acts to his publisher on 8 August, with
a letter that explains that "
Peer Gynt was a real person who lived in
Gudbrandsdal, probably around the end of the last century or the
beginning of this. His name is still famous among the people up there,
but not much more is known about his life than what is to be found in
Norwegian Folktales (in the section entitled 'Stories
from the Mountain')." In those stories,
Peer Gynt rescues the
three dairy-maids from the trolls and shoots the Bøyg, who was
originally a gigantic worm-shaped troll-being. Peer was known to tell
tall tales of his own achievements, a trait Peer in the play
inherited. The "buck-ride" story, which Peer tells his mother in the
play's first scene, is also from this source, but, as Åse points out,
it was originally Gudbrand Glesne from
Vågå who did the tour with
the reindeer stag and finally shot it.
Following an earthquake on
Ischia on 14 August,
Ibsen left for
Sorrento, where he completed the final two acts; he finished the play
on 14 October. It was published in a first edition of 1,250 copies
a month later in Copenhagen.
Ibsen's previous play, Brand, preached the philosophy of “All or
nothing.” Relentless, cruel, resolute, overriding in will, Brand
went through everything that stood in his way toward gaining an ideal.
Peer Gynt is a compensating balance, a complementary color to Brand.
In contrast to Brand, with his iron will, Peer is will-less,
insufficient, and irresolute. Peer "goes around" all issues facing
Brand had a phenomenal literary success, and people became curious to
know what Ibsen's next play would be. The dramatist, about this time,
was relieved of financial worry by two money grants, one from the
Norwegian government and the other from the Scientific Society of
Trondhjem. This enabled him to give to his work an unfettered mind. He
went with his family to Frascati, where, in the Palazzo rooms, he
looked many feet down upon the Mediterranean, and pondered his new
drama. He preserved a profound silence about the content of the play,
and begged his publisher, Hegel, to create as much mystery about it as
Ibsen's mother, Marichen Altenburg, was the model for Peer Gynt's
The portrayal of the Gynt family is known to be based on Henrik
Ibsen's own family and childhood memories; in a letter to Georg
Ibsen wrote that his own family and childhood had served "as
some kind of model" for the Gynt family. In a letter to Peter Hansen,
Ibsen confirmed that the character Åse, Peer Gynt's mother, was based
on his own mother, Marichen Altenburg. The character Jon Gynt
is considered to be based on Ibsen's father Knud Ibsen, who was a rich
merchant before he went bankrupt. Even the name of the Gynt
family's ancestor, the prosperous Rasmus Gynt, is borrowed from the
Ibsen's family's earliest known ancestor. Thus, the character Peer
Gynt could be interpreted as being an ironic representation of Henrik
Ibsen himself. There are striking similarities to Ibsen's own life;
Ibsen himself spent 27 years living abroad and was never able to face
his hometown again.
Peer Gynt (Grieg)
Edvard Grieg to compose incidental music for the play.
Grieg composed a score that plays approximately ninety minutes. Grieg
extracted two suites of four pieces each from the incidental music
(Opus 46 and Opus 55), which became very popular as concert music. One
of the sung parts of the incidental music, "In the Hall of the
Mountain King" was included in the first suite with the vocal parts
omitted. Originally, the second suite had a fifth number, "The Dance
of the Mountain King's Daughter", but Grieg withdrew it. Grieg himself
declared that it was easier to make music "out of his own head" than
strictly following suggestions made by Ibsen. For instance, Ibsen
wanted music that would characterize the "international" friends in
the fourth act, by melding the said national anthems (Norwegian,
Swedish, German, French and English). Reportedly, Grieg was not in the
right mood for this task.
The music of these suites, especially "Morning Mood" starting the
first suite, "In the Hall of the Mountain King", and the string lament
"Åse's Death" later reappeared in numerous arrangements, soundtracks,
Other Norwegian composers that have written theatrical music for Peer
Harald Sæverud (1947),
Arne Nordheim (1969), Ketil
Hvoslef (1993) and
Jon Mostad (1993–4).
Gunnar Sønstevold (1966)
wrote music for a ballet version of Peer Gynt.
In 1906 scenes from the play were given by the Progressive Stage
Society of New York. The first US production of
Peer Gynt opened
at the Chicago Grand Opera House on October 24, 1906, and starred the
noted actor Richard Mansfield, in one of his very last roles
before his untimely death. In 1923,
Joseph Schildkraut played the role
on Broadway, in a
Theatre Guild production, featuring Selena Royle,
Helen Westley, Dudley Digges, and, before he entered films, Edward G.
Robinson. In 1944, at the Old Vic,
Ralph Richardson played the role,
surrounded by some of the greatest British actors of the time in
supporting or bit roles, among them
Sybil Thorndike as Åse, and
Laurence Olivier as the Button Molder. In 1951, John Garfield
fulfilled his wish to star in a Broadway production, featuring Mildred
Dunnock as Åse. Sadly, this production was not a success, and is said
by some to have contributed to Garfield's death at age 39.
On film, years before he became a superstar, the seventeen-year-old
Charlton Heston starred as Peer in a silent, student-made, low-budget
film version of the play produced in 1941. Peer Gynt, however, has
never been given a full-blown treatment as a sound film in English on
the motion picture screen, although there have been several television
productions, and a sound film was produced in German in 1934.
Ingmar Bergman produced a five-hour stage version of Peer
Gynt, at Sweden's Malmö City Theatre, with
Max von Sydow
Max von Sydow as Peer
Gynt. Bergman produced the play again, 34 years later, in 1991, at
Sweden's Royal Dramatic Theatre, this time with
Börje Ahlstedt in the
title role. Bergman chose not to use Grieg's music, nor the more
Harald Sæverud composition, but rather traditional Norwegian
folk music, and little of that either.
Christopher Plummer starred in his own concert version of the
play, with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in Hartford,
Connecticut. This was a new performing version and a collaboration of
Plummer and Hartford Symphony Orchestra Music Director Michael
Lankester. Plummer had long dreamed of starring in a fully staged
production of the play, but had been unable to. The 1993 production
was not a fully staged version, but rather a drastically condensed
concert version, narrated by Plummer, who also played the title role,
and accompanied by Edvard Grieg's complete incidental music for the
play. This version included a choir and vocal parts for soprano and
mezzo-soprano. Plummer performed the concert version again in 1995
with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra with Lankester conducting. The
1995 production was broadcast on Canadian radio. It has never been
presented on television. It has also never been released on compact
disc. In the 1990s Plummer and Lankester also collaborated on and
performed similarly staged concert versions of A Midsummer Night's
Dream by William Shakespeare (with music by Mendelssohn) and Ivan the
Terrible (an arrangement of a
Prokofiev film score with script for
narrator). Among the three aforementioned Plummer/Lankester
collaborations, all received live concert presentations and live radio
broadcasts, but only Ivan the Terrible was released on CD.
Alex Jennings won the Olivier Award for Best Actor 1995/1996 for his
performance in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Peer
Braham Murray directed a production at the Royal Exchange
David Threlfall as Peer Gynt, Josette
Bushell-Mingo as Solveig and
Espen Skjonberg as Button Moulder.
In 2000, the Royal National
Theatre staged a version based on the 1990
translation of the play by Frank McGuinness. The production
featured three actors playing Peer, including
Chiwetel Ejiofor as the
Patrick O'Kane as Peer in his adventures in Africa, and
Joseph Marcell as the old Peer. Not only was the use of three actors
playing one character unusual in itself, but the actors were part of a
"color-blind" cast: Ejiofor and Marcell are Black, and O'Kane is
In 2001 at the BBC Proms, the
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and BBC
Singers, conducted by Manfred Honeck, performed the complete
incidental music in Norwegian with an English narration read by Simon
In 2005 Chicago's storefront theater The Artistic Home mounted an
acclaimed production (directed by Kathy Scambiatterra and written by
Norman Ginsbury) that received two Jeff Nominations for its dynamic
staging in a 28-seat house. The role of Peer was played by a
single actor, John Mossman.
In 2006, Robert Wilson staged a co-production revival with both the
National Theater of Bergen and the Norwegian
Theatre of Oslo, Norway.
Ann-Christin Rommen directed the actors in Norwegian (with English
subtitles). This production mixed both Wilson's minimalist (yet
constantly moving) stage designs with technological effects to bring
out the play's expansive potential. Furthermore, they utilized
state-of-the-art microphones, sound systems, and recorded acoustic and
electronic music to bring clarity to the complex and shifting action
and dialogue. From April 11 through the 16th, they performed at the
Brooklyn Academy of Music's Howard Gilman Opera House.
In 2006, as part of the Norwegian
Ibsen anniversary festival, Peer
Gynt was set at the foot of the
Great Sphinx of Giza
Great Sphinx of Giza near Cairo, Egypt
(an important location in the original play). The director was Bentein
Baardson. The performance was the centre of some controversy, with
some critics seeing it as a display of colonialist attitudes.
In January 2008 the
Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis debuted a new
Peer Gynt by the poet Robert Bly. Bly learned Norwegian
from his grandparents while growing up in rural Minnesota, and later
during several years of travel in Norway. This production stages
Ibsen's text rather abstractly, tying it loosely into a modern
birthday party for a 50-year-old man. It also significantly cuts the
length of the play. (An earlier production of the full-length play at
the Guthrie required the audience to return a second night to see the
second half of the play.)
Dundee Rep with the National
Theatre of Scotland toured a
production. This interpretation, with much of the dialogue in modern
Scots, received mixed reviews. The cast included Gerry Mulgrew
as the older Peer. Directed by Dominic Hill.
In November 2010
Southampton Philharmonic Choir
Southampton Philharmonic Choir and the New London
Sinfonia performed the complete incidental music using a new English
translation commissioned from Beryl Foster. In the performance, the
musical elements were linked by an English narrative read by actor
From June 28 through July 24, 2011,
La Jolla Playhouse
La Jolla Playhouse ran a
Peer Gynt as a co-production with the Kansas City
Repertory Theatre, adapted and directed by David Schweizer.
The 2011 Dublin
Theatre Festival presented a new version of Peer Gynt
by Arthur Riordan, directed by Lynne Parker with music by Tarab.
In November 2013, Basingstoke Choral Society (directed by David
Gibson, who also directs Southampton Philharmonic Choir) reprised the
earlier performance by their colleagues in Southampton.
Peer Gynt Festival
Vinstra in the
Henrik Ibsen and Peer Gynt
have been celebrated with an annual festival since 1967. The festival
is one of Norway’s largest cultural festivals, and is recognized by
the Norwegian Government as a leading institution of presenting
culture in nature. The festival has a broad festival program with
theatre, concerts, an art exhibition and several debates and
The main event in the festival is the outdoor theatre production of
Peer Gynt at Gålå. The play is staged in Peer Gynt's birthplace,
Ibsen claims he found inspiration for the character Peer Gynt,
and is regarded by many as the most authentic version. The play is
performed by professional actors from the national theater
institutions, and nearly 80 local amateur actors. The music to the
play is inspired by the original theatre music by
Edvard Grieg - the
Peer Gynt suite". The play is one of the most popular theater
productions in Norway, attracting more than 12,000 people every
The festival also holds the
Peer Gynt Prize, which is a national
Norwegian honor prize given to a person or institution that has
achieved distinction in society and contributed to improving Norway's
Peer Gynt Sculpture Park
Peer Gynt Sculpture Park
Peer Gynt Sculpture Park (Peer Gynt-parken) is a sculpture park
located in Oslo, Norway. Created in honour of Henrik Ibsen, it is a
monumental presentation of Peer Gynt, scene by scene. It was
established in 2006 by Selvaag, the company behind the housing
development in the area. Most of the sculptures in this park are the
result of an international sculpture competition.
In 1912 German writer
Dietrich Eckart adapted the play. In Eckart's
version, the play became "a powerful dramatisation of nationalist and
anti-semitic ideas", in which Gynt represents the superior Germanic
hero, struggling against implicitly Jewish "trolls". Ralph M.
Engelman says, "Eckart meant his adaptation of
Peer Gynt to represent
a racial allegory in which the trolls and Great Boyg represented what
[Otto] Weininger conceived to be the Jewish spirit." Eckart's
version was one of the best attended productions of the age with more
than 600 performances in Berlin alone. Eckart later helped to found
the Nazi party.
In 1938 German composer
Werner Egk finished an opera based on the
In 1948, the composer
Harald Sæverud made a new score for the
nynorsk-production at "the Norwegian Theatre" (Det Norske Teatret) in
Oslo. Sæverud incorporated the national music of each of the friends
in the fourth act, as per Ibsen's request, who died in 1906.
In 1951, North Carolinian playwright Paul Green published an American
version of the Norwegian play. This is the version in which actor John
Garfield starred on Broadway. This version is also the American
Version, and features subtle plot differences from Ibsen's original
work, including the omittance of the shipwreck scene near the end, and
the Buttonmolder character playing a moderately larger role.
In 1961, Hugh Leonard's version, The Passion of Peter Ginty,
transferred the play to an Irish Civil War setting. It was staged at
Dublin's Gate Theatre.
In 1969, Broadway impresario
Jacques Levy (who had previously directed
the first version of Oh! Calcutta!) commissioned The Byrds' Roger
McGuinn to write the music for a pop (or country-rock) version of Peer
Gynt, to be titled Gene Tryp. The play was apparently never completed,
although, as of 2006, McGuinn was preparing a version for
release. Several songs from the abortive show
appeared on the Byrds' albums of 1970 and 1971.
Jerry Heymann's adaptation, called Mr. Gynt, Inc., was performed at La
Theatre Club in March 1972.
Houston Ballet presented
Peer Gynt as adapted by Artistic
Director Ben Stevenson, OBE.
John Neumeier created a ballet "freely based on Ibsen's
play", for which
Alfred Schnittke composed the score.
In 1998, the
Trinity Repertory Company
Trinity Repertory Company of Providence, Rhode Island
David Henry Hwang
David Henry Hwang and Swiss director Stephan Muller to do
an adaptation of Peer Gynt.
In 1998, playwright Romulus Linney directed his adaptation of the
play, entitled Gint, at the
Theatre for the New City in New York. This
adaptation moved the play's action to 20th-century Appalachia and
In 2007, St. John's Prep of
Danvers, Massachusetts won the MHSDG
Festival with their production starring Bo Burnham.
In 2008, Theater in the Open in Newburyport, Massachusetts, produced a
Peer Gynt adapted and directed by Paul Wann and the
company. Scott Smith, whose great, great grandfather (Ole Bull) was
one of the inspirations for the character, was cast as Gynt.
In 2009, a DVD was released of Heinz Spoerli's ballet, which he had
created in 2007. This ballet uses mostly the Grieg music, but adds
selections by other composers. Spoken excerpts from the play, in
Norwegian, are also included.
In Israel, poet Dafna Eilat (he:דפנה אילת) composed a poem in
Hebrew called "Solveig", which she also set to music, its theme
derived from the play and emphasizing the named character's boundless
faithful love. It was performed by
Hava Alberstein (see ).
In 2011, Polarity Ensemble
Theatre in Chicago presented another
version of Robert Bly's translation of the play, in which Peer’s
mythic journey was envisioned as that of America itself, "a 150-year
whirlwind tour of the American psyche."
On an episode of "Inside the Actor's Studio", Elton John spontaneously
composed a song based on a passage from Peer Gynt.
The German a cappella metal band
Van Canto also made a theatrical a
cappella metal adaption of the story, naming it "Peer Returns". The
first episode that has been released up until now, called "A Storm to
Come", appears on the band's album Break the Silence.
Will Eno's adaptation of Ibsen's
Peer Gynt titled Gnit had its world
premiere at the 37th Humana Festival of New American Plays in March
2013. Also in the spring of 2013, Dr. Cary Mazer, a theatre
professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, produced
a stage version of his Jewish-inspired adaptation, Pinchas Vontz. The
script was produced as a staged reading, with direction by
Philadelphia theatre artist Ed Sobel.
There have been a number of film adaptations including:
Peer Gynt (1915 film), an American film directed by
Oscar Apfel and
Peer Gynt (1918 film), a German film directed by Richard Oswald
Peer Gynt (1934 film), a German film directed by Fritz Wendhausen
Peer Gynt (1941 film), notable for being the film debut of Charlton
Peer Gynt (1981 film), a French TV film directed by Bernard Sobel
Peer Gynt (1971 film), a
German language TV film starring Edith Clever
Peer Gynt (2006 film), a German TV film directed by Uwe Janson
^ a b Klaus Van Den Berg, "Peer Gynt" (review),
Theatre Journal 58.4
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 391) and Meyer (1974, 284).
^ a b Meyer (1974, 284).
^ Meyer (1974, 288).
^ Leverson, Michael, Henrik Ibsen: The farewell to poetry, 1864-1882,
Hart-Davis, 1967 p. 67
^ Meyer (1974, 284–286). Meyer describes
Clemens Petersen as "the
most influential critic in Scandinavia" (1974, 285). He reviewed Peer
Gynt in the 30 November 1867 edition of the newspaper Faedrelandet. He
wrote that the play "is not poetry, because in the transmutation of
reality into art it fails to meet the demands of either art or
^ Letter to
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson on 9 December 1867; quoted by
Meyer (1974, 287).
^ Watts (1966, 10–11).
^ Meyer (1974, 288–289).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 391) and Meyer (1974, 288–289).
^ Williams (1993, 76).
^ Farquharson Sharp (1936, 9).
^ Harold Bloom, The Western Canon, p. 357.
^ Quoted by Meyer (1974, 276).
Peer Gynt employs octosyllabics and decasyllabics, iambic, trochaic,
dactylic, anapaestic, as well as amphibrachs. See Meyer (1974, 277).
^ Meyer (1974, 277–279).
^ Quoted by Meyer (1974, 279).
^ See Meyer (1974, 282).
^ Meyer (1974, 282). Meyer points out that Ibsen's fear of subsequent
earthquakes in the town, which motivated his swift departure from the
island, were not groundless, since it was destroyed by one 16 years
^ a b c d One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates
text from a publication now in the public domain: Moses, Montrose
J. (1920). "Peer Gynt". In Rines, George Edwin. Encyclopedia
^ "Bumerker i teksten – Om store og små gjengangere i Ibsens
samtidsdramaer Bokvennen Litterært Magasin". Blm.no. 2010-01-24.
Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 1 July
^ Robert Ferguson, Henrik Ibsen. A New Biography, Richard Cohen Books,
^ Survey of Articles on Ibsen: 2007, 2008 (PDF). The
Ibsen Society of
America. 2009. p. 40. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
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^ "Peer Gynt". National Theatre. Retrieved 30 March
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Peer Gynt shambles
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^ "Peer Gynt". Theartistichome.org. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
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^ Spencer, Charles (5 May 2009). "
Peer Gynt at the Barbican, review".
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^ "Grieg – Peer Gynt, with Narrator, Samuel West; Mendelssohn –
Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave); Delius – Songs of Farewell -
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^ Brown, Kristi, "The
Troll Among Us", in Phil Powrie et al (ed),
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^ Engelman, R,
Dietrich Eckart and the Genesis of Nazism, Washington
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^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections, "Production: Mr. Gynt, Inc.".
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^ "Peer Gynt: Marijn Rademaker, Philipp Schepmann, Yen Han, Christiane
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^ "חוה אלברשטיין סולווג LYRICS". 5 April 2008.
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Wikisource has original text related to this article:
www.kreusch-sheet-music.net – Free Scores of piano arrangements of
the two suites
Peer Gynt (in Norwegian), freely available at
Project Runeberg (in
Peer Gynt public domain audiobook at LibriVox
Peer Gynt: a dramatic poem, published by Philadelphia: J. B.
Lippincott, 1936. Color illustrations by Arthur Rackham. via Internet
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