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).
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.
"Chanson gallante" comes from the set of 33 Musical Portraits (for harmonium), where Karg-Elert writes cleverly in the style of various well-known composers. In this case, the composer being imitated is Francois Couperin.
The light and elegant "chanson" is attractive in its own right, but there is a very special "effect" featured here!
St. Mary-le-Bow is famous for it's ring of bells, and, there is a wonderful cymbelstern, called "Bow Bells" which you will hear in this performance!
Since this is really for harmonium, I just sort of "made it up," but I think it came out nicely, and the Bow Bells are heard to fine effect!
Photos of Karg-Elert, a painting of Couperin, a photo of the organ in St Mary-le-Bow, and the score (page 8) are attached below.
COMING SOON from Lavender Audio!