Leif Kayser (1919–2001) was one of Denmark’s most productive composers in the 20th century, especially of organ and church music. He personally published and sold most of his works in elegantly calligraphed editions, which he had printed at Atelier Elektra. It has been difficult to acquire his music after his death, and individual works from Kayser’s later years have only existed as photocopies. In 2016, a group of organists took the initiative for a new edition of Kayser’s organ music, which is now published by Edition·S.
To the greatest extent possible, Kayser’s own publications and printed sources have been used to make facsimile editions. Where Kayser has used the C-clef, the works have been rewritten using common clefs in order to make the works more approachable.
Leif Kayser’s works for solo organ are published in a series of 15 volumes, edited by organist Jørgen Ellegård Frederiksen. Each volume contains an introduction to the works, including a detailed description of sources, corrections etc.
Five decades of organ works
The works now published span no less than five decades and thus range from the energetic outbursts of young manhood to the serenity of maturity. Once one has gotten the hang of the distinctiveness of this music, an unmatched world of beauty and spiritual richness opens up.
One of the highlights of the new edition is Leif Kayser’s ‘Concerto’ – a monolith written from 10 April to 30 June 1965, finished just the day before the composer himself gave the first performance of it in The Marble Church in Copenhagen. Another notable volume is ‘Partitas & Organ Chorales’ containing 5 partitas and 11 organ chorales, including material published for the first time.
Leif Kayser’s 100 years will furthermore be celebrated with a number of performances of his works throughout the year. Details of the concerts are listed on Jørgen Ellegård’s special Leif Kayser website.
Find a full list of the newly published organ works here.