A quick FYI, the tarball at Sourceforge is very much out of date. The latest version with lots of very useful patches is in cvs.
Am going to see if I can build a copy of this program myself when I have some free time. You do need a bunch of settings on the configure line. I believe I used the following last time I built it on Linux:
./configure --enable-interface=ncurses,motif,emacs,vt100,xaw,gtk --enable-spectogram --enable-wrd
The trickiest part is getting the configuration files in the proper place. If you need help with creating configuration files and finding some basic sound fonts, check out:http://ocmnet.com/saxguru/Timidity.htm
It is a Windows oriented site, but the configuration files and soundfonts should work pretty much the same across both platforms, just watch the direction of your directory slashes in your configuration files.
Also, check out the Freepats project if you want the best in Open Source soundfonts to recreate your midi instrument sounds:http://freepats.opensrc.org/