Discovering Grieg with Alice Sara Ott

Thursday, August 31, 2017 - 11:03

The acclaimed German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott has worked with the world’s leading conductors, including Lorin Maazel, Paavo Järvi and Neeme Järvi and played major concert halls worldwide. Ahead of her October performance here in London, she talks us through her introduction to the work of Edvard Grieg.

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I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Grieg’s solo piano works prior to exploring them for my latest album Wonderland, which I chose to dedicate entirely to his music.

Discovering Grieg’s music was a revelation. Living in a century where everyday life is dominated by time, money and materialism, I am occasionally frightened by the casualness with which we accept, and adapt to, the speed of life. 

We think that if we answer ten emails now we are saving time, but what do we do with this time we have saved? Write another ten emails. Fantasies and dreams are things we have left behind somewhere on our path from childhood to adulthood.

Grieg was an introvert and a dreamer. He lived in a house on a hill which he named ‘Troldhaugen’ (Troll Hill). In his music, the landscape which surrounded this house turns into a magical world in which fairy creatures such as trolls and elves live.

His music is very far from being extravagant; the structure is simple and the musical effects rather minimalistic. And yet, when I started discovering his Lyric Pieces and the Ballade in G Minor, I completely lost myself in his magic world. 

I lost my connection to time and reality and found myself awaking memories of my own childhood. Memories from a time when dreams and fantasies knew no limits. His music became my sanctuary and my playground. My own wonderland.

For this recital I invite you to lean back, close your eyes, forget the stress and the speed of your everyday life and join me on my journey through Grieg’s wonderland.


Alice Sara Ott played at our partner venue St John’s Smith Square in October 2017, as part of our 2017-18 Classical Season.

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