Composer Snapshot: Sigfrid Karg-Elert (November 21, 1877 - April 9, 1933)
German composer and keyboard player Sigfrid Karg-Elert is best known for his works for harmonium and organ. At the age of 5, he moved with his family to Leipzig. Following the death of his father in 1889, a family in Leipzig provided Sigfrid with a piano so that he could continue the musical studies he started there. When he was 14, he began training in Grimma to become a teacher, and during his two years there, he learned to play the flute, oboe, and clarinet. Around 1896, he moved back to Leipzig to study at the Conservatory. He had many teachers there, including flutist and composer Carl Reinecke.
Karg-Elert’s characteristic use of chromaticism, rich harmonies, and complex key relationships is seen all throughout his work Sonate (Appassionata) Fis moll. Although this brief, one-movement sonata is in fact in F-sharp minor, he makes extensive use of the aforementioned harmonic devices to create tonal ambiguity throughout most of the work. The title Sonata Appassionata, as it is commonly called, is particularly fitting for the piece, seeing as how Karg-Elert viewed expression as the soul of the instrument.
CALL TO ACTION: Listen to a live performance of the piece here! - http://youtu.be/PDu_3egreqw
and listen for specific instances of Karg-Elert's style within the work.