This Danish, Norwegian, German and Jewish surname of GRUENER is, with its many variants one of the most common and widespread of surnames. It was either a nickname for someone who was fond of dressing in this colour, or who had played the part of the 'Green Man' in the May Day celebrations. It was also a topographic name for someone who lived near a village green. The name has numerous variant spellings which include GRUN, GRIN, GREEN, GREENE, GROEN, GRUNBLATT, GRINBERG, GRUENGRAS and GRINMAN, to name but a few. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. A notable member of the name was Louis GRUENBERG (1884-1964) the American composer of Russian birth, born near Brest-Litosvk. He was taken to the USA at the age of two. A pupil of Busoni, he worked as a concert pianist until 1919 and then retired to devote himself to composition. He wrote extensively for orchestra, chamber music combinations and voices, but is best known for his opera 'The Emperor Jones' based on Eugene O'Neill's play. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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