Today, November 1st, is All Saints' Day.
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.
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.
"Before the Image of a Saint" is found in Book Two of the composer's Op. 142. It is the eighth of twelve miniatures, and was published by Paxton & Co. Ltd. in 1932.
It is an expressive meditation with harmonies and colors that most of us expect to find in Karg-Elert's music.
Many of these works are dedicated to the English organist, J. Stuart Archer (1866-1954), and I'm sure that the registrations given in the score come from Archer, and not Karg-Elert.
The work has an intense atmosphere about it, and would serve well in either a liturgical or concert setting.
Karg-Elert calls this collection, "Sempre Semplice," but while they are all quite brief, I don't think all of them could be called simple.
Tomorrow, "In Memoriam" from the same collection.
The score and photos of Sigfrid Karg-Elert are attached.