Karg-Elert, Sigfrid (1877 – 1933)

Siegfried Theodor Karg or Sigfrid Karg-Elert, born in Oberndorf am Neckar on November 21, 1877 and died in Leipzig on April 9, 1933, is a German pianist, organist and post-romantic composer. Enjoying considerable celebrity in his time, he is best known today for his many compositions for the organ and the harmonium.

Born under the name of Siegfried Karg, he studied music at the Leipzig conservatory (piano with Alfred Reisenauer, a pupil of Liszt), where he became a teacher in 1919, succeeding Reger. At the start of his career, his editor suggested that he add Elert (from Ehlert, his mother's name) to his name and simplify the spelling.

On July 25, 1910, he married Minna Louise Kretzschmar (1890-1971); on April 21, 1914 their daughter Ingeborg Annelies Kätchen (Katharina Schwaab) was born.

From May 5 to 17, 1930, the Londoner Organ Music Society organized in London a "Karg-Elert Festival" of 10 organ recitals in his honor, in which he participated as a guest composer.

In 1932, he undertook a tour of the United States which included 22 organ recitals from January 3 to March 24, where he presented some of his latest compositions, including the Passacaglia and Fugue on BACH, alongside works by old masters. Lost on modern American consoles and having only a mediocre organist technique, Karg-Elert greatly disappointed the public and the critics were terrible. This catastrophic experience ends up ruining his health later.

Strange and tormented character, he died after a long illness in 1933, and was buried in Leipzig.

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