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Colin Harvey

Nun Dankett alle Gott - Siegfreid Karg-Elert

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I heard an interesting story at the weekend about Karg-Elert's well known Marche Triomphale on Nun Dankett Alle Gott.

 

The story goes that Siegfreid Karg-Elert wrote it with a view for it to be played in the thanksgiving celebrations in Westminster Abbey once the Germans had won World War I.

 

Does anybody know anything more about this? Even if there's not a shred of truth to it, I thought it was rather a good story - even if they never quite made it to Westminster Abbey as they intended, I have always felt this piece has a very "British" feel to it with the way it wears its grandeur quite lightly and it works especially well on British organs.

 

Karg-Elert's piece has certainly won a place in the hearts of many British organists and congregations and I feel is a nice illustration that music can succeed where war fails.

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Hello,

 

please take a look at the "Sigfrid Karg-Elert Werkverzeichnis" compiled by Sonja Gerlach. Number 59 of op. 65 (Marche triomphale on Nun danket alle Gott) was published in 1910 by Simon, Berlin and has nothing to do with WWI.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

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I heard an interesting story at the weekend about Karg-Elert's well known Marche Triomphale on Nun Dankett Alle Gott.

 

The story goes that Siegfreid Karg-Elert wrote it with a view for it to be played in the thanksgiving celebrations in Westminster Abbey once the Germans had won World War I.

 

Does anybody know anything more about this? Even if there's not a shred of truth to it, I thought it was rather a good story - even if they never quite made it to Westminster Abbey as they intended, I have always felt this piece has a very "British" feel to it with the way it wears its grandeur quite lightly and it works especially well on British organs.

 

Karg-Elert's piece has certainly won a place in the hearts of many British organists and congregations and I feel is a nice illustration that music can succeed where war fails.

 

======================

 

 

Something lurks in the back of my mind!

 

Could it have been Reger who did something like this?

 

Never mind, it wouldn't have been half as exciting as Walton's "Spitfire Prelude & Fugue," which is one of the few really great pieces of British music.

 

MM

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Lol. Yes, I wonder how the Walton sounds in the Berliner Dom? Especially now the big Sauer is restored (and pretty magnificient too, IMO).

 

Thanks to others for their points and suggestions.

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Lol. Yes, I wonder how the Walton sounds in the Berliner Dom? Especially now the big Sauer is restored (and pretty magnificient too, IMO).

 

Thanks to others for their points and suggestions.

 

 

==============================

 

 

I don't think Spitfires played much of a part over Berlin, any more than Meschershmitts did over Coventry.

 

What a terrible mess the whole things was. I had to smile when they unveiled the new statue of "Bomber" Harris outside St Clement-Danes church, (the RAF church).

 

One of the daily's had a delightful cartoon, which showed the ceremony taking place, everyone saluting, and a flock of pigeons dropping "bombs" on the statue! :D

 

Having checked, I think my own suggestion about Reger was the result of previous mis-information, because again, his variations on "God save the King" substantially pre-dates any outbreak of hostilities.

 

So it's OK, we can play Karg-Elert and Reger again! ;)

 

MM

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Hello,

Having checked, I think my own suggestion about Reger was the result of previous mis-information, because again, his variations on "God save the King" substantially pre-dates any outbreak of hostilities.

 

one of the last works of Max Reger, op. 145/7 "Siegesfeier" (Triumphal Fête / victory celebration) dates from 1916. It quotes "Nun danket alle Gott" and near the end the German national anthem.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

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Hello,

 

 

one of the last works of Max Reger, op. 145/7 "Siegesfeier" (Triumphal Fête / victory celebration) dates from 1916. It quotes "Nun danket alle Gott" and near the end the German national anthem.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

 

=========================

 

 

That's Reger off the music-list then! :o

 

MM

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=========================

That's Reger off the music-list then! :o

MM

Oh please. Opus 145 is quite popular with British players. No. 2, »Dankpsalm«, is the very first track on the very first CD of Priory's »Great European Organs« series, played at King's College by Stephen Cleobury.

 

Just listening to the infamous No. 7 (»Siegesfeier«), I find it a bit predictable. The Haydn Hymn in the end, squarely harmonized and as regular as to hurt in the ears is simply bad taste. The overlong final cadenza, however, might be modified by playing it in general diminuendo (oh how sweet that would sound in the Berliner Dom!). Then, the piece might disclose its similarity to Schumann's »Die beiden Grenadiere«, with the same foreboding. Completely against Reger, of course, who, as most people not only in Germany, was nationalist and war-crazy (sometimes I feel glad that he did not live into the 'thirties). But a more bearable piece it would be.

 

No. 2, with Cleobury at King's, is still wonderful. And now, he plunges into the Mendelssohn A-Major …

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Sorry Friderich!

 

We enjoy our little jokes, which haven't quite got to the level of the BBC programme "Top Gear" filmed at the Nurburgring, or that wonderful comedy " 'allo 'allo."

 

Actually, what would or could we play without German and French music?

 

We would be reduced to the Elgar Sonata and the Willan "Introduction & Passacaglia," when we're not too busy playing jolly Tuba Tunes or Cornet Voluntaries.

 

Reger may have had the manners of a pig, he may have been arrogant, a nationalist warmonger and a drunk, but then, so was my uncle. :mellow:

 

More Reger I say!

 

That will sort out the best from the rest.

 

MM

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Well, Willian was hugely influenced by Reger: the Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue in Eb minor is a good example - I would say without Reger, Willian would have been very different!

 

I like the story of Reger when challenged that his music had too many notes, he replied along the lines of "there is not one unecessary note in my music"!

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Dear MM,

 

my turn to say sorry if I missed the irony … Not ”our“ strength, they say. It's just that I have more than one soft spot for Big Max. I daresay that his ”too many notes“ comment might be challenged here and there, but when at his best (and most sober), he certainly wrote very fine music (I find myself thinking of that Jonathan Safran Foer book »Extremely loud and incredibly close« -- might have talked about Reger, mightn't he?).

 

Speaking of which: My favourite recording of opus 73 remains Donald Joyce at Norwich. To my ears, he really grasped what Reger was after, and brings it out extraordinarily well.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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We British do have a strong tendency to be embarrassed by, or even sneer at, patriotism (though sport and the Last Night of the Proms are exceptions). We don't like to be reminded of the British Empire, which is passé and unfashionable. I think we may be the only country to run ourselves down like this. I sometimes think it's a bit of a shame.

 

I like the story of Reger when challenged that his music had too many notes, he replied along the lines of "there is not one unecessary note in my music"!

 

I thought that was Mozart. Perhaps both of them said it. At least I could agree with Mozart.

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Having often thought that Karg Elert's thematic treatment of 'Lobe den Herren' was a bit obscure, I recently was rather surprised to come across a rather radical solution:

 

 

!!!

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Hello,

 

 

one of the last works of Max Reger, op. 145/7 "Siegesfeier" (Triumphal Fête / victory celebration) dates from 1916. It quotes "Nun danket alle Gott" and near the end the German national anthem.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

 

Yes, he was a bit premature, I suppose. I seem to recall reading somewhere of Reger turning down the offer of an honorary D Mus at Cambridge in protest at the use of dum-dum bullets by the British Army. Probably apochryphal, though.

 

JS

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Never mind, it wouldn't have been half as exciting as Walton's "Spitfire Prelude & Fugue," which is one of the few really great pieces of British music.

By all means, yes. Is there an organ arrangement?

If not: Where is Cameron Carpenter when you really need him?

 

Best,

Friedricih

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Yes, Oxford University Press do a transcription of the Spitfire Prelude. They used to do it as a separate piece, now it seems to be part of "a Walton organ Album", which has lots of other goodies as well, like Crown Imperial, Orb and Sceptre, etc.

http://www.sheetmusi...n-Album/3621259#

 

Ought to point out it won't include the fugue. The Prelude is really pretty easy - entirely sight-readable but some of the rhythms might need a bit of unpicking.

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We British do have a strong tendency to be embarrassed by, or even sneer at, patriotism (though sport and the Last Night of the Proms are exceptions). We don't like to be reminded of the British Empire, which is passé and unfashionable. I think we may be the only country to run ourselves down like this. I sometimes think it's a bit of a shame.

 

 

 

I thought that was Mozart. Perhaps both of them said it. At least I could agree with Mozart.

 

As did I - specifically the Overture to the Marriage of Figaro.

 

There is a story which has been circulated about Reger, though. Apparently, he would present some new composition to his 'champion', Karl Straube (at the time Kantor at the church of Saint Thomas, in Leipzig), who would then sit down and sight-read it brilliantly (or did he prepare it, and perform it a few days later?)*. Whereupon, Reger would go away, imbibe a considerable amount of alcohol, add many more notes to the piece, return and again present it ti Straube - who, so it is said, still managed to perform the work to an incredibly high standard.

 

I wonder if there is any truth in this legend?

 

There is a further anecdote, involving W.S. Lloyd-Webber, who, as a young student, was given Reger's formidible Fantasy and Fugue on the name BACH, learnt it in a week and performed it in a college concert from memory at the end of the same week. If this is true, I should have thought that this qualified as an equally imressive feat.

 

 

 

* The sources do not make this point crystal clear.

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While the story may be based on true elements -- such as Reger's drinking, his ability to compose prodigiously fast, and Straube's superior mastery of the instrument --, it probably is not a true story, though there is a chance.

 

First, Straube was appointed Thomaskantor only in 1918; Reger had died two years before that.

 

Second, when Straube was organist to St Thomas -- he had been appointed in 1903 -- he did not live in such proximity to Reger as to allow for such a spontaneous communication.The famous “Straube manuscripts”, copies of new works sketched down hastily for the friend, were communicated by post between Weiden and Wesel, where Straube was organist; this communication ceased before Reger left his parents’ house for Munich. Only later, when Reger lived in Weimar and taught in Leipzig, they met regularly, but that was way past Reger’s most productive period in composing organ music. It might have happened then, only what work it would have been? There was one over which they reportedly went into intense communication: Opus 135 b -- only from that one Reger actually cut material instead of adding some.

 

Third, Reger was most prolific in writing organ music when he went through a long sober period. Most of his organ music was composed in Weiden, when Reger, who had escaped death by drinking and depression only narrowly, was closely watched and never allowed out unaccompanied by his family, and later, when he was a newly-wed living in Munich and making an effort out of love to his wife Elsa who had divorced her first husband for him. When later he resumed drinking, most of his organ music had been written, and there were no further works of the character mentioned in the anecdote except Opus 135 b (see above) and Opus 127.

 

Now, that is the one single possibility where the story might fit, since Opus 127 was written in a time when Reger was drinking heavily again, saw Straube regularly, and put a lot of notes, many of which are arguably superfluous, into a horribly difficult piece of music that he later dedicated to Straube.

 

So, after all, the story may be true in such a way as fact, sometimes, is worse than cliché itself.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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While the story may be based on true elements -- such as Reger's drinking, his ability to compose prodigiously fast, and Straube's superior mastery of the instrument --, it probably is not a true story, though there is a chance.

 

First, Straube was appointed Thomaskantor only in 1918; Reger had died two years before that.

 

Second, when Straube was organist to St Thomas -- he had been appointed in 1903 -- he did not live in such proximity to Reger as to allow for such a spontaneous communication.The famous “Straube manuscripts”, copies of new works sketched down hastily for the friend, were communicated by post between Weiden and Wesel, where Straube was organist; this communication ceased before Reger left his parents’ house for Munich. Only later, when Reger lived in Weimar and taught in Leipzig, they met regularly, but that was way past Reger’s most productive period in composing organ music. It might have happened then, only what work it would have been? There was one over which they reportedly went into intense communication: Opus 135 b -- only from that one Reger actually cut material instead of adding some.

 

Third, Reger was most prolific in writing organ music when he went through a long sober period. Most of his organ music was composed in Weiden, when Reger, who had escaped death by drinking and depression only narrowly, was closely watched and never allowed out unaccompanied by his family, and later, when he was a newly-wed living in Munich and making an effort out of love to his wife Elsa who had divorced her first husband for him. When later he resumed drinking, most of his organ music had been written, and there were no further works of the character mentioned in the anecdote except Opus 135 b (see above) and Opus 127.

 

Now, that is the one single possibility where the story might fit, since Opus 127 was written in a time when Reger was drinking heavily again, saw Straube regularly, and put a lot of notes, many of which are arguably superfluous, into a horribly difficult piece of music that he later dedicated to Straube.

 

So, after all, the story may be true in such a way as fact, sometimes, is worse than cliché itself.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

 

===============================

 

 

I knew Friedrich would respond to this! :D

 

It must be ten years since he, a number of American organists and myself, (among others), discussed Reger and Karl Straube on piporg-l.

 

I've just gone back to some of the comments, and a few interesting details emerge.

 

The first is that Hindemith despised Straube's lack of rhythmic sense; though in fairness, that was a German romantic quality, which was often applied to the music of Bach.

 

Straube played Reger's music slowly and majestically, so sight-reading was possibly less remarkable than we imagine it to be.

 

Straube also took liberties with the score, and his own editions of Reger's works demonstrate considerable differences; perhaps more in the manner of

both transcription and performing edition.

 

As Friedrich reminds us, Reger's organ-music was written while he was sober, and it was only after this that things went severely down-hill, and because the two were separated by a considerable distance, Reger would not have been able to "run around the corner" to Straube, and get him to play his latest organ creation. When he did live "around the corner, from Karl Straube" he (Reger), had more or less stopped writing organ-music. So the truth or otherwise of the popular anecdote is severely open to question.

 

That stated, Straube was known as "the maker of organists," and he clearly knew a thing or two about technique etc.

 

Of course, looking back at what I've written, one must always be aware that Reger's metronome markings are far too fast, and the general concensus seems to be, that the music should be played at about 2/3 the indicated speed.

 

MM

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As Friedrich reminds us, Reger's organ-music was written while he was sober …

Sorry if I was being too frank about this.

That information might have come as a bit of a shock to some of us.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Sorry if I was being too frank about this.

That information might have come as a bit of a shock to some of us.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

 

========================

 

 

Knowing what many musicians are like, I don't think that this would come as a shock as much as a surprise.

 

Far more shocking perhaps, was Reger's industry, combined with what seems to have been a self-destructive personality. I don't like labels, but everything points towards the manic-depressive state, which we now call "bi-polar."

 

That oscillation between fantastic energy and bouts of self-destructive despair has made many "great" movers, shakers and creative originals in this world, but having worked with someone like this, it was not without its problems. As any psychiatrists would testify, the links to drugs, drink and even suicide are often seen in those with substantial mental-health problems.

 

It's all there in the music, in the case of Reger.

 

I suspect that Reger was never a very happy man, yet someone like Stephen Fry, who is quite open about his bi-polar condition, always says that he wouldn't want to be any other way.

 

MM

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While the story may be based on true elements -- such as Reger's drinking, his ability to compose prodigiously fast, and Straube's superior mastery of the instrument --, it probably is not a true story, though there is a chance.

 

First, Straube was appointed Thomaskantor only in 1918; Reger had died two years before that.

 

Second, when Straube was organist to St Thomas -- he had been appointed in 1903 -- he did not live in such proximity to Reger as to allow for such a spontaneous communication. ...

 

Of course - my mistake. I had meant to type organist, not Kantor. My excuse is that I am still trying to get rid of a heavy chest cold (which woke me up at 03h30ish this morning) - so I am a little tired....

 

Now, that is the one single possibility where the story might fit, since Opus 127 was written in a time when Reger was drinking heavily again, saw Straube regularly, and put a lot of notes, many of which are arguably superfluous, into a horribly difficult piece of music that he later dedicated to Straube.

 

So, after all, the story may be true in such a way as fact, sometimes, is worse than cliché itself.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

Interesting. So, as you say - perhaps there might be some truth in it....

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========================

 

 

Far more shocking perhaps, was Reger's industry, combined with what seems to have been a self-destructive personality. I don't like labels, but everything points towards the manic-depressive state, which we now call "bi-polar."

 

I am not medically qualified to make such a judgement.

 

 

That oscillation between fantastic energy and bouts of self-destructive despair has made many "great" movers, shakers and creative originals in this world, but having worked with someone like this, it was not without its problems. As any psychiatrists would testify, the links to drugs, drink and even suicide are often seen in those with substantial mental-health problems.

 

It's all there in the music, in the case of Reger. ...

 

MM

 

I am not sure about this. To take one example - the Fugue from the Fantasy on the Chorale 'Wachet auf'. This is one of the most joyous (and ultimately triumphant) fugues (and fugue subjects) known to me. There are at least two other chorale fantasies which exhibit a similar mood (Hallelujah! Gott zu loben and Wie schön leucht' uns der Morgenstern).

 

Whilst there may be 'darkness' in some of Reger's works, compared to those of Liszt (for example), they are a glorious, sunnny morning.

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