Sigfrid Karg-Elert

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.


Notable works

  • 66 Chorale improvisations for organ (including "Nun danket alle Gott")
  • Cathedral Windows for organ
  • 33 Stylistic studies for harmonium
  • 30 Caprices for flute
  • 20 Chorale preludes and postludes
  • 25 Caprices for Saxophone

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.


Caprices for Flute, Op. 107, No. 1: Tempo giusto (file info)
Caprices for Flute, Op. 107, No. 2 (file info)
Caprices for Flute, Op. 107, No. 3: Allegro alla Handel (file info)
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External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to::
  • The Karg-Elert Archive - Retrieved November 15, 2007.
  • IMSLP - International Music Score Library Project's Sigfrid Karg-Elert page. - Retrieved November 15, 2007.


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