Tune of the Day: In the Hall of the Mountain King
This piece of orchestral music was composed by Edvard Grieg for Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt, which premiered in Oslo in 1876, and was later extracted as the final piece of the “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1”, Op. 46.
A fantasy play written in verse, Peer Gynt tells of the adventures of the eponymous Peer. The sequence illustrated by the music of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” is when Peer sneaks into the Mountain King's castle. The piece then describes Peer's attempts to escape from the King and his trolls.
The simple theme begins slowly and quietly in the lowest registers of the orchestra. It is played first by the cellos and bassoons, signifying Peer Gynt's slow, careful footsteps. After being recited, the main theme is then very slightly modified with a few different ascending notes, but transposed up a perfect fifth (to the key of F-sharp major, the dominant key, but with flattened sixth) and played on different instruments: these are the King's trolls.
In order to respect the original key of the piece, we had to make use of low B, which can only be produced on a B foot flute. If your flute has a C foot, or if you find it difficult to play that low, simply transpose up an octave the two phrases that start on a low B. (Remember to revert to the written octaves after the half notes, or you'll run into the fourth register!)