Peer Gynt

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: composition project

This story was written as a play by Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian writer. He was very inspired by local folk stories about trolls, and this part of the story is about the king of the trolls.


Peer Gynt is a reckless trouble-maker. He tells terrible lies about trolls and his adventures. Everyone in his village is fed up with him, and certainly no girl would ever marry him. Least of all pretty Solveig (pron. Sull-vay), whom Peer admires from afar. In the end he decides to live high in the mountains, away from everyone.

There he meets a beautiful woman all dressed in green. She promises to be his wife, and offers treasure too. Peer loves treasure, so he follows her into a cave, where he meets her father —  the king of the trolls! The king says Peer must become a wicked troll as well if he is to marry his daughter. Peer quite likes the idea, until he finds out that to be a troll, he would have to grow a hairy tail! But if he stays human, he’s likely to be eaten by the trolls. All he can do is run, as hundreds of trolls chase him out of the cave.

There he is rescued by Solveig … so perhaps she likes him a little after all.


Edvard Grieg wrote music for the play. He was also Norwegian, and there is a lot of music for the different parts of the story, but the most famous is In The Hall of the Mountain King.


In the play, Peer Gynt has many more adventures, a lifetime of them in fact, and he travels the world. In Africa he watches the sun rising…



At the end of the story, after travelling the world, Peer Gynt returns home an old man, where he finds kind Solveig waiting: