Agathe Ursula Backer Grøndahl (December 1, 1847 – June 4, 1907) was a Norwegian pianist and composer from a well-to-do family that supported the arts. Agathe and her three sisters all showed artistic talent.

When Backer Grøndahl was 10, she moved with her family to the capital of Norway, Christiana (present-day Oslo) where she studied with Ludvig Mathias Lindeman and other Norwegian composers. At nineteen she moved to Berlin to attend the Akademie der Tonkunst, and studied both piano and composition. She was a remarkable student, particularly as a pianist. In just a few years she'd debut with the Philharmonic Society (with Edvard Grieg conducting) and from there her studies and performance career flourished. She'd go on to study with Hans von Bülow and Franz Liszt, and her compositions were regarded as highly as her playing. She became deaf later in life, and finished concertizing in 1901.

One of Backer Grøndahl's compositions is a delightful compilation for solo piano titled Norwegian Folksongs and Folkdances. Though there are 11 movements, we're just looking at one titled "Springdans." This cheerful rendition of one of her country's folksongs begins with the briefest of introductions before the main theme of this short work takes the spotlight and holds it throughout. The light, graceful dance-like qualities are absolutely charming, and are but one example of her wonderful writing.

Here's a recording of this lovely work for you to enjoy!*

Sara Aimée Smiseth

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