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Nach Einer Prüfung Kurzer Tage

Nach Einer Prüfung Kurzer Tage

Karg-Elert, Sigfrid

Arr. Olson, Gary


  • Ensemble: Brass Quintet
  • Genre: Sacred
  • Grade: 3
  • Duration: 2.0 minutes
  • Catalog Number: DB-CAN0112

Sigfrid Karg was born in Oberndorf (Swabia) on November 21, 1877. His father was a Roman Catholic newspaper editor and died shortly following Sigfrid’s birth. His Protestant mother then raised the family in abject poverty. His early musical education was sporadic, fragmented, and mostly self-acquired. He left home at an early age to play a wind instrument in a traveling band. It was this experience which provided an understanding of brass instruments and a love for brilliant sonorities of brass which is so clearly demonstrated in the Chorale Prelude Wunderbarer König (opus 65, no. 66), and Marche Triomphale on Nun Danket alle Gott (op. 65, no. 59). Inspiration by Edvard Grieg turned his interests to composition. His abilities in this area attracted attention and he was awarded a free place in the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied under Reinecke, Jadassohn, and Max Reger. Upon graduation, he taught briefly at the Magdeburg Conservatory and managed to eke out a modest living as a performer and composer. To enhance the audience appeal of his name, he changed it from Karg (meaning coffin) to Karg-Elert (Elert was his mother’s maiden name).

Upon the death of Max Reger in 1916, he was appointed Professor of Composition, the primary professorship at his alma mater. The appointment was not formalized, however, until 1919. Life at the conservatory was not smooth. Karg-Elert hated the formalities and false dignities which characterized faculty life. Clownish behavior and outbursts of bad temper earned him few supporters. Although his early compositions were for the Kunstharmonium (analogous to the modern reed organ), it was in organ composition that he found his medium. His Sixty-Six Chorale Improvisations from which the Nach einer Prüfung kurzer Tage is taken clearly demonstrates his virtuosity. Although Karg-Elert lived well into the 20th century, dying in Leipzig on April 9, 1933, his music is well-entrenched in the style of the German Romantic period and is similar in many ways to that of Max Reger, whom he succeeded as Professor at the Leipzig Conservatory. He found his inspiration through the compositions of Bach and his thorough knowledge of wind instruments. This love of wind instruments, based largely on his early experience as an itinerant musician, explains why his organ works can be so meaningfully transcribed for brass.

This work is part of our Denver Brass Signature Series.

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