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Alfred Sittard

(1878-1942)

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- Sankt Michaelis Kirche, Hamburg, 1928

- Alte Garnisonkirche, Berlin, 1938

Alfred Sittard was born in Stuttgart in 1878. He studied in Cologne under F. W. Franke and became organist at Dresden Kreuzkirche in 1903, then in 1912 organist at the Michaeliskirche in Hamburg. In 1925 he became professor of organ studies at Universität der Künste in Berlin and died in Berlin 1942. In his lifetime he was considered one of the foremost organ virtuosos in Germany which these recordings clearly show. Due to his influence through his teaching post in Berlin he is a direct connection to the Berlin Organ School of the late 19th century and early 20th century among others like Max Reger and Karl Straube.

The solo recordings were recorded from 1928 to 1932. The first six tracks were recorded in Alten Garnisonkirche in Berlin and the others were recorded at the Walcker organ in Michaeliskirche in Hamburg. Alfred Sittard was involved in the construction of this 163 stop organ in 1912. The organ was heavily damaged during the Second World War and in 1962 the organ company Steinmeyer build a completely new organ. These recordings are in that way also historical documents preserving the sound of this lost instrument.

The Händel organ concert was recorded with the Berlin Philharmonics under the young conductor Leopold Ludwig (1908-1979) in 1938 probably somewhere in Berlin but I haven’t been able to find the exact location.

These recordings show a great musicianship, excellent sense for drama, and a virtuoso technical ability. All the recordings are of the highest musical quality but worth mentioning is his J. S. Bach “Toccata and fugue in D-minor” which really shows his dramatic skills, and his F. Liszt “Ad nos” where modern listeners will notice the extreme liberties he takes all over the performance!

A note on the recordings:

There are some slight pitch problems in some of the recordings. Eg. in the Liszt-“Ad nos” the two sides of the performance were not played back at the exact same speed.

These recordings have as far as I know never been issued on another medium than the original 78rpms so this is a unique chance to hear the almost forgotten art of the great German virtuoso organist Alfred Sittard.

Great thanks to Michael Gartz for providing these recordings and to Claus Byrith for post transfer editing, cutting, and cleaning using the CEDAR-technology.


Last note: It was quite a detective work to piece this small biography together through the Internet so if anyone has more information, pictures, recordings (!) of him please send it to me.