Since the 1970s, Karg-Elert’s organ, harmonium and piano music has been systematically rediscovered, but his song compositions have not yet received the same attention. Wrongly so, for his approx. 200 solo songs are first-rate compositions, written in a wealth of different forms ranging from through-composed to strophic settings. The editors Ernst Breidenbach and Markus Schäfer have also contributed to the rediscovery of these gems with several concerts and a CD of selected songs.
The poems set by Karg-Elert come from five centuries; it is striking, though, that these include several authors who, although they were contemporaries of the composer, were wedded to the aesthetic ideals of the 19th century and whose poetry was more in the Classical and Romantic tradition than in line with current trends. A special case is the Lessing cycle, where the composer struck out in new directions with his choice of texts.
Karg-Elert was regarded by his colleagues and in the music world as an outsider: he was interested not only in the German, but also in the European avantgarde around Debussy, Skriabin and the young Schoenberg, and this aesthetic orientation which crossed boundaries met with opposition in the increasingly conservative climate of the postwar years.
- First Urtext edition, based on the first editions
- Discovery of a new, highly interesting repertoire
- Detailed foreword (Ger/Eng)
- Translation of the song texts (Ger/Eng)