COSMOPOLITIAN ART NOUVEAU...
Sébastien Melmoth | Hôtel d'Alsace, PARIS | 08/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
The enigmatic Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933) is surely one of the most peculiar composers of art-music who ever lived. Even today his music is not well known, although there is a Society in Germany devoted to the rediscovery of his texts.
Karg-Elert was born in the south-western corner of Germany near the Alsatian border in Baden-Württemberg: this may have had an influence on his later appreciation of French art, even though he was moved to Leipzig while still a child. Later he became a student of E. M. von Reznicek. Later still, he held discussions with Edvard Grieg.
Karg-Elert honorably served in the German Army during WW1. He was nevertheless something of a Decadent in his lifestyle as well as in his Art, for he eventually married the daughter of his former mistress--with whom he had already sired a child seven years prior.
After the Great War, Karg-Elert succeeded Max Reger as professor at the Leipzig Conservatory, having earlier been made an honorary member of the English Royal College of Organists at London. His reputation grew apace in the 1920s throughout Germany, England, and the United States. In the late-1920s his live performances on the harmonium d'art were broadcast every Sunday morning over the Central German Radio system. In 1930, he visited England where a Karg-Elert Festival for organ was held in his honor. In 1932, he toured the United States as a concert organist.
Karg-Elert died in the fateful year of 1933--when Hitler and the NAZIs assumed legal power in Germany. It was probably for the best that he expired when he did, since he had already been the object of NAZI black-propaganda, being labeled of course a "Jew," a "Bolshevik," and a "Degenerate."
Karg-Elert's music, however, is a rare and exquisite example of musical Art Nouveau or Jugenstil. It is splendidly cosmopolitian, revealing inflections of Reger, Debussy, and Scriabin, to name just a few. He wrote important compositions for organ, piano, and harmonium, too some chamber works, as he himself played all these plus oboe.
Get the whole harmonium set: Works for Harmonium 1 Sigfrid Karg-Elert: Harmonium Works, Vol. 2 Sigfrid Karg-Elert: Works for Harmonium, Vol. 3 Sigfrid Karg-Elert: Works for Harmonium, Vol. 4 Karg-Elert: Harmonium Works Vol 5 Sigfried Karg-Elert: Compositions for Harmonium .
The whole piano set: Sigfrid Karg-Elert: Piano Works, Vol. 1 Piano Works 2 Karg-Elert: Piano Works Vol. 3 Piano Sonatas 1 & 3
Exquisite stuff, highly recommended.