Composer Edward Grieg spent the autumn in the woods near Bergen.
All the forests are good with their mushroom air and leaves rustling. But mountain forests near the sea are especially good. They can hear the surf. From the sea constantly causes fog, and from the abundance of moisture the moss is rampant. He hangs from the branches with green locks to the ground.
In addition, in the mountain forests live, like a bird mockingbird, a cheerful echo. It’s just waiting to pick up any sound and toss it through the rocks.
Once Grieg met in the forest a little girl with two pigtails – the daughter of a forester. She gathered fir cones into the basket.
It was autumn. If it were possible to collect all the gold and copper that exist on the earth, and forge thousands of thousands of thin leaves out of them, they would constitute an insignificant part of that autumn dress that lay on the mountains. In addition, the forged leaves would seem rude in comparison with the real ones, especially with aspen leaves. Everyone knows that the aspen leaves tremble even from the bird’s whistle.
“What’s your name, girl?” asked Grieg.
“Dagny Pedersen,” the girl answered in a low voice. She answered in a low voice not from fright, but from embarrassment. She could not be frightened, because Grieg’s eyes laughed.
– That’s the trouble! said Grieg. – I have nothing to give you. I do not
“I have an old mother’s doll,” the girl answered. “She used to close her eyes. Like this!
The girl slowly closed her eyes. When she opened them again, Grieg noticed that her pupils were greenish and the leaves gleamed in them.
“And now she sleeps with her eyes open,” Dagny added sadly. “Old people have a bad dream. Grandfather also grunts all night.
“Listen, Dagny,” said Grieg, “I thought of it.” I’ll give you one interesting thing. But not now, but in ten years.
Dagny even clasped her hands.
“You see, I need to do it again.
– And what is it?
“Unless in all your life,” Dagni asked sternly, “can you make only five or six toys?” Grieg was confused.
“No, it’s not,” he replied uncertainly. “I’ll do it, maybe in a few days.” But such things are not given to young children. I make gifts for adults.
“I will not break it,” Dagny said imploringly and pulled Grieg by the sleeve. “And I will not break it.” Here you will see! Grandpa has a toy boat made of glass. I erase the dust from her and never even broke the smallest piece.
“She totally confused me, this Dagny,” thought Grig with vexation and said what adults always say when they get embarrassed before the children.
– You’re still small and do not understand much. Learn patience. And now give the basket. You can hardly drag it. I’ll escort you and we’ll talk about something else.
Dagny sighed and handed Grig a basket. It really was heavy. In spruce cones there are many pitches, and therefore they weigh much more pine.
When a forester’s house appeared among the trees, Grieg said:
“Well, now you’ll make it on your own, Dagny Pedersen.” In Norway, there are many girls with the same name and surname as you. What is your father’s name?
“Hagerup,” Dagny answered, and wrinkling her forehead, she asked: “Will not you come to us?” We have an embroidered tablecloth, a red cat and a glass boat. Grandpa will let you pick it up.
– Thank you. Now I do not have time. Farewell, Dagny! Grieg smoothed the girl’s hair and walked towards the sea. Dagny frowned and watched him go. She was holding the basket sideways, bumps fell out of her basket.
“I will write music,” Grieg decided, “on the title page I will order Dagny Pedersen, the daughter of the forester Hagerup Pedersen, when she turns eighteen.”
In Bergen, everything was the same as before.
All that could muffle sounds – carpets, drapes and upholstered furniture – Grig has long removed from the house. There was only an old sofa. It could accommodate up to a dozen guests, and Grieg did not dare to throw it away.
Friends said that the composer’s house is like a lumberjack house. It was decorated only with a grand piano. If a person was imaginative, he could hear magical things among these white walls – from the roar of the northern ocean, that the waves rolled from the mist and wind that whistled his wild saga over them, to the song of a girl lulling a rag doll.
The piano could sing about everything – about the impulse of the human spirit to the great and about love. The white and black keys, running away from Grieg’s strong fingers, yearned, laughed, thundered with storm and anger and suddenly fell silent at once.
Then in silence for a long time only one small string sounded, as if Cinderella, who was offended by her sisters, was crying.
Grigg, leaning back, listened until this last sound died down in the kitchen, where the cricket had long since settled.
It was heard that, counting the seconds with the accuracy of the metronome, water was dripping from the tap. The drops said that time does not wait and it would be necessary to hurry to do everything that is planned.
Grieg wrote music for Dagny Pedersen for more than a month.
Winter began. The mist wrapped the city in the throat. Rough steamers came from different countries and dozed at the wooden wharves, quietly snuffling the ferry.
Soon it began to snow. Grieg saw from his window how he flew obliquely, clinging to the tops of the trees.
It is impossible, of course, to convey music in words, no matter how rich our language is.
Grieg wrote about the deepest charm of girlhood and happiness.
He wrote and saw how a girl with green, shining eyes ran to meet him, gasping for joy. She hugs him by the neck and presses her hot cheek against his gray unshaven cheek “Thank you!” she says, herself not yet knowing what she is thanking him for.
“You’re like the sun,” Grieg says to her, “Like a gentle wind and early morning, you have a white flower in your heart and filled your whole being with the fragrance of spring.” “I’ve seen life.” Whatever they say about her, believe always that she’s amazing and I’m fine, I’m an old man, but I gave the youth life, work, talent, gave everything without a return, so I’m maybe even happier than you, Dagny.
You are a white night with its mysterious light. You are happiness. You – the brilliance of the dawn. The heart shakes from your voice.
Blessed be all that surrounds you, what touches you and what you touch, what makes you happy and makes you think. “
Grieg thought and played about everything he thought. He suspected that he was being eavesdropped. He even guessed who was doing it. They were tits on a tree, sailors roaming from the port, a laundress from a neighboring house, a cricket, snow falling from the overhanging sky, and Cinderella in a darned dress.
Everyone listened in their own way.
The tits were worried. As they spun, their crackling could not drown out the piano.
Spirited sailors sat on the steps of the house and listened, sobbing. The washer unbent her back, wiped her reddened eyes with her hand, and shook her head. The cricket crawled out of the crack in the tile stove and peeked into the crack behind Grieg.
The falling snow stopped and hung in the air to listen to the ringing that streamed from the house.
And Cinderella looked, smiling, to the floor. Beside her bare feet stood crystal shoes. They flinched, colliding with each other, in response to the chords that came from Grieg’s room.
Grig valued these listeners more than elegant and polite concert attendees.
At the age of eighteen, Dagney graduated from high school.
On this occasion, my father sent her to Christiania to visit her sister Magda. Let the girl (the father considered her still a girl, although Dagny was already a slender girl, with heavy blond braids) will see how the light is arranged, how people live, and have a little fun.
Who knows what Dagny is waiting for in the future? Maybe an honest and loving, but a sparse and boring husband? Or the saleswoman’s job in a village shop? Or a service in one of the many steamer offices in Bergen?
Magda worked as a theatrical dressmaker. Her husband Nils served in the same theater as a hairdresser.
They lived in a little room under the roof of the theater. From there you could see a bay full of sea flags and a monument to Ibsen.
The steamers shouted all day to the open windows. Uncle Niels studied their voices so much that, according to him, he knew unerringly who was buzzing – “Norderney” from Copenhagen, “Scotland singer” from Glasgow or “Jeanne d’Arc” from Bordeaux.
Aunt Magda had a lot of theatrical things in her room: brocade, silk, tulle, ribbons, lace, old felt hats with black ostrich feathers, gypsy shawls, gray wigs, boots with copper spurs, swords, fans and silver shoes worn on the bend. All this had to be sewn, repaired, cleaned and ironed.
On the walls hung paintings carved from books and magazines: gentlemen of the times of Louis XIV, beauties in crinolines, knights, Russian women in sarafans, sailors and Vikings with oak wreaths on their heads.
In the room you had to climb a steep staircase. There was always a smell of paint and varnish from the gilding.
Dagny often went to the theater. It was an exciting activity. But after the performances, Dagny did not fall asleep for a long time, and even cried sometimes in her bed.
Frightened by this aunt Magda calmed down Dagny. She said that one can not blindly believe what is happening on the stage. But Uncle Nils called Magda for this “hen-hen” and said that, on the contrary, one must believe everything in the theater. Otherwise, people would not need any theaters. And Dagny believed.
But still Aunt Magda insisted on going for a change to the concert.
Niels did not argue against this. “Music,” he said, “is a mirror of genius.”
Niels liked to express himself loftily and vaguely. About Dagny he said that she looked like the first chord of overture. And Magda, in his words, had magical power over people. It was expressed that Magda sewed theatrical costumes. And who does not know that a person changes every time he puts on a new suit. That’s how it turns out that the same actor yesterday was a heinous murderer, today he became an ardent lover, tomorrow he will be a royal jester, and the day after tomorrow a national hero.
“Dagny,” screamed Aunt Magda in such cases, “shut your ears and do not listen to this terrible chatter!” He himself does not understand what he says, this attic philosopher!
It was a warm June.