Sigfrid Karg-Elert (November 21 1877-April 9 1933) was a German composer of considerable fame in the early twentieth century, best known for his choral lieder, chamber music, and compositions for piano, organ, and harmonium. Born in Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany, he studied music at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he would become a staff member in 1919. Notable influences of his work include composers Claude Debussy, Aleksandr Scriabin, and Arnold Schoenberg. His favorite instrument to compose for was the Kunstharmonium, a versatile French creation that allowed him the range of colors he preferred.
Karg-Elert's works, especially those written for organ, enjoyed reasonable popularity in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. His performance skills were less admired, and his single tour of the United States in the early 1930s was not well-received. He succumbed to a long illness in 1933, and is buried in Leipzig. The popularity of his compositions declined for a period before a successful revival in the late 1970s.
The 30 Caprices for flute were written specifically for a friend of Karg-Elert's, a flutist bound for service in the war. These short exercises were designed to challenge linear one-staff thinking and, in short, keep the friend from becoming bored. They are now a standard set of technical, dynamic, and phrasing exercises for young flute students all over the world.
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