Alfred Sittard - Selected recordings from 1928-38

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, where he died in 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 These recordings are in that way also historical documents preserving the sound of this instrument.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 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 technical note: 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, but Claus Byrith is working on the problem.

These recordings have, as far as I know, never been issued on another medium than the original 78rpms, so this is an 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.

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  1. Excellent! This is one of the best records that I heard! Show you whether you have a record of Karl Straube? I would like to hear it!

  2. Muchas gracias por compartir estos auténticos tesoros.

  3. Thank you for expanding my knowledge of historic organists, many of whom I have never heard.


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