Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933) was born Siegfried Theodor Karg in Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany, the youngest of twelve children. The family finally settled in Leipzig in 1882, where he received his first musical training and private piano instruction. At a gathering of composers in Leipzig, he presented his first attempts at composition to the composer Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek, who arranged a three-year tuition-free scholarship at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied with Jadassohn, Reinecke, Reisenauer and Teichmüller.
Having returned to Leipzig, he started devoting himself to composition, primarily for the piano (encouraged by Edvard Grieg, whom he greatly admired). He soon began writing of the harmonium, and his first original organ works (1909) were the, 66 Chorale Improvisations, Op. 65.
Shunned and neglected in Germany, he accepted an invitation for an organ concert tour of America in the spring of 1932. The tour proved to be a disastrous mistake. He was suffering from the diabetes which would soon kill him, and his limited powers as an organist compared unfavorably to the virtuoso standard of organ performance to which American audiences had grown accustomed.
After his return to Leipzig, his health started deteriorating rapidly. He died there in April 1933, only 55 years old.
Being somewhat at a loss as to what to learn next, I thought I'd do some more Karg-Elert miniatures from "Sempre semplice", Op. 142. They are dedicated "To my friend, Stuart Archer, Esq., with gratitude".
The word "tenebrae" is a Latin word meaning "shadows." The "Office of Tenebrae" is a stark and evening frightening liturgical office sung during Holy Week.
Karg-Elert's "Tenebrae" is an emotional and interesting work, which is based upon the chorale, "Herzliebster Jesu." (I think.)
It is powerful, and well-suited to Hereford's dark reeds, and "orchestral" timbres.
The score is attached, as well as photos of Karg-Elert and J. Stuart Archer.
MORE to come.