Troldhaugen (Hill of the Trolls), about 8km south of the city centre off Highway 580, was the lakeside home of Edvard Grieg for the last 22 years of his life – though “home” is something of an exaggeration, as he spent several months every year touring the concert halls of Europe. Norway’s only composer of world renown, Grieg has a good share of commemorative monuments in Bergen – a statue in the city park and the Grieghallen concert hall to name but two – but it’s here that you get a sense of the man, an immensely likeable and much-loved figure of leftish opinions and disarming modesty: “I make no pretensions of being in the class with Bach, Mozart and Beethoven,” he once wrote, “Their works are eternal, while I wrote for my day and generation.”
A visit begins at the museum, where Grieg’s life and times are exhaustively chronicled, and a short film provides yet further insights. From here, it’s a brief walk to the house, a pleasant and unassuming villa built in 1885, and still pretty much as Grieg left it, with a jumble of photos, manuscripts and period furniture. Grieg didn’t, in fact, compose much in the house, but preferred to walk round to a tiny hut he had built just along the shore. The hut has survived, but today it stands beside a modern concert hall, the Troldsalen, where there are recitals of Grieg’s works in the summer (see Edvard Grieg). The bodies of Grieg and his wife – the singer Nina Hagerup – are inside a curious tomb blasted into a rock face overlooking the lake, and sealed with twin memorial stones; it’s only a couple of minutes’ walk off from the main footpath, but few people venture out to this beautiful, melancholic spot.