Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger (19 March 1873 – 11 May
1916), commonly known as Max Reger, was a German composer, pianist,
organist, conductor, and academic teacher. He worked as a concert
pianist, as a musical director at the
Leipzig University Church, as a
professor at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig, and as a music
director at the court of Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen.
Reger first composed mainly Lieder, chamber music, choral music and
works for piano and organ. He later turned to orchestral compositions,
such as the popular Variations and
Fugue on a Theme by Mozart, and to
works for choir and orchestra such as
Gesang der Verklärten
Gesang der Verklärten (1903),
Der 100. Psalm
Der 100. Psalm (1909),
Der Einsiedler and the Hebbel
7 External links
7.1 Music scores
Born in Brand, Bavaria, Reger studied music theory in Sondershausen,
then piano and theory in Wiesbaden. The first compositions to which
he assigned opus numbers were chamber music and Lieder. A concert
pianist himself, he composed works for both piano and organ. His
first work for choir and piano to which he assigned an opus number was
Reger returned to his parental home in 1898, where he composed his
first work for choir and orchestra, Hymne an den Gesang (Hymn to
singing), Op. 21. From 1899, he courted Elsa von Bercken who
first rejected him. He composed many songs such as Sechs Lieder,
Op. 35, on love poems by five authors. Reger moved to Munich in
September 1901, where he obtained concert offers and where his rapid
rise to fame began. During his first Munich season, Reger appeared in
ten concerts as an organist, chamber pianist and accompanist. Income
from publishers, concerts and private teaching enabled him to marry in
1902. Because his wife Elsa was a divorced Protestant, he was
excommunicated from the Catholic Church. He continued to compose
without interruption, for example Gesang der Verklärten, Op. 71.
In 1907, Reger was appointed musical director at the Leipzig
University Church, a position he held until 1908, and professor at the
Royal Conservatory in Leipzig. In 1908 he began to compose Der
100. Psalm (The 100th Psalm), Op. 106, a setting of Psalm 100 for
mixed choir and orchestra, for the 350th anniversary of Jena
University. Part I was premiered on 31 July that year. Reger completed
the composition in 1909, premiered in 1910 simultaneously in both
Chemnitz and Breslau.
The composer at work, painting by Franz Nölken, 1913
In 1911 Reger was appointed Hofkapellmeister (music director) at the
court of Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen, responsible also for music
at the Meiningen Court Theatre. He retained his master class at the
Leipzig conservatory. In 1913 he composed four tone poems on
Arnold Böcklin (Vier Tongedichte nach Arnold Böcklin),
including Die Toteninsel (Isle of the Dead), as his Op. 128. He gave
up the court position in 1914 for health reasons. In response to World
War I, he thought in 1914 already to compose a choral work to
commemorate the fallen of the war. He began to set the Latin Requiem
but abandoned the work as a fragment. He composed eight motets
forming Acht geistliche Gesänge für gemischten Chor (Eight Sacred
Songs), Op. 138, as a master of "new simplicity". In 1915 he moved
to Jena, commuting once a week to teach in Leipzig. He composed in
Jena the Hebbel
Requiem for soloist, choir and orchestra. Reger
died of a heart attack while staying at a hotel in
Leipzig on 11 May
1916. The proofs of Acht geistliche Gesänge, including "Der
Mensch lebt und bestehet nur eine kleine Zeit", were found next to his
Reger had also been active internationally as a conductor and pianist.
Among his students were Joseph Haas, Sándor Jemnitz, Jaroslav Kvapil,
Ruben Liljefors, Rudolf Serkin,
George Szell and Cristòfor Taltabull.
Reger was the cousin of Hans von Koessler.
Main article: List of compositions by Max Reger
Reger produced an enormous output in just over 25 years, nearly always
in abstract forms. Few of his compositions are well known in the 21st
century. Many of his works are fugues or in variation form, including
what is probably his best-known orchestral work, the Variations and
Fugue on a Theme by Mozart based on the opening theme of Mozart's
Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331.
Recording session with
Max Reger for the Welte-Philharmonic-Organ,
Reger wrote a large amount of music for organ, the most popular being
his Fantasy and
Fugue on BACH, Op. 46 and the Toccata and
Fugue in D
minor from the collection Op. 129. While a student under Hugo Riemann
in Wiesbaden, Reger met the German organist, Karl Straube; they became
friends and Straube premiered many of Reger's organ works, such as the
Three chorale fantasias, Op. 52. Reger recorded some of his works on
the Welte Philharmonic organ, including excerpt from 52 Chorale
Preludes, Op. 67.
Reger was particularly attracted to the fugal form and created music
in almost every genre, save for opera and the symphony (he did,
however, compose a Sinfonietta, his op. 90). A similarly firm
supporter of absolute music, he saw himself as being part of the
tradition of Beethoven and Brahms. His work often combined the
classical structures of these composers with the extended harmonies of
Liszt and Wagner, to which he added the complex counterpoint of Bach.
Reger's organ music, though also influenced by Liszt, was provoked by
Some of the works for solo string instruments turn up often on
recordings, though less regularly in recitals. His solo piano and
two-piano music places him as a successor to Brahms in the central
German tradition. He pursued intensively Brahms's continuous
development and free modulation, whilst being rooted in
Reger was a prolific writer of vocal works, Lieder, works for mixed
chorus, men's chorus and female chorus, and extended choral works with
orchestra such as
Der 100. Psalm
Der 100. Psalm and Requiem, a setting of a poem by
Friedrich Hebbel, which Reger dedicated to the soldiers of World War
I. He composed music to texts by poets such as Gabriele D'Annunzio,
Otto Julius Bierbaum, Adelbert von Chamisso, Joseph von Eichendorff,
Emanuel Geibel, Friedrich Hebbel, Nikolaus Lenau, Detlev von
Friedrich Rückert and Ludwig Uhland. Reger assigned opus
numbers to major works himself.
His works could be considered retrospective as they followed classical
and baroque compositional techniques such as fugue and continuo. The
influence of the latter can be heard in his chamber works which are
deeply reflective and unconventional.
In 1898 Caesar Hochstetter, an arranger, composer and critic,
published an article entitled "Noch einmal Max Reger" in a music
magazine (Die redenden Künste 5 no. 49, pp. 943 f). Caesar
recommended Reger as "a highly talented young composer" to the
publishers. Reger thanked Hochstetter with the dedications of his
piano pieces Aquarellen, Op. 25, and Cinq Pièces pittoresques, Op.
Reger had an acrimonious relationship with Rudolf Louis, the music
critic of the Münchener Neueste Nachrichten, who usually had negative
opinions of his compositions. After the first performance of the
Sinfonietta in A major, Op. 90, on 2 February 1906, Louis wrote a
typically negative review on 7 February. Reger wrote back to him: "Ich
sitze in dem kleinsten Zimmer in meinem Hause. Ich habe Ihre Kritik
vor mir. Im nächsten Augenblick wird sie hinter mir sein!" ("I am
sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before
me. In a moment it will be behind me!").
Max Reger — Music as a perpetual state, by Andreas
Pichler and Ewald Kontschieder, Miramonte Film, was released in 2002.
It was the first factually based film documentation about Max Reger.
It was produced in cooperation with the Max-Reger-Institute.
Max Reger: The Last Giant, a documentary film about the life and works
of Max Reger, was released on 6 DVD's around December 2016 to mark the
100th anniversary of Reger's death. It is produced by
Films and includes excerpts from Reger's most important works for
orchestra, piano, chamber ensemble and organ, with performances by
Frauke May, Bernhard Haas, Bernhard Buttmann and the Brandenburgisches
^ a b c d e f g h i j Biography 2012.
^ Lux 1963.
^ SWR 2016.
^ a b Schröder 1990.
^ Op106 2016.
^ Op138 2016.
^ Krumbiegel 2014.
^ Brock-Reger 1953.
^ Slonimsky 1965.
^ Kirshnit 2006.
^ Muspilli 2016.
Fugue State 2016.
Albright, Daniel, ed. (2004), Modernism and music: an anthology of
sources. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-01266-2.
Anderson, Christopher (2003).
Max Reger and Karl Straube: Perspectives
on an Organ Performing Tradition. Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate
Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-3075-7.
Bittmann, Antonius (2004).
Max Reger and Historicist Modernisms.
Baden-Baden: Koerner. ISBN 3-87320-595-5.
Bloesch-Stöcker, Adele (1973). Erinnerungen an Max Reger. Bern: H.
Brock-Reger, Charlotte (1953). "Mein Vater Max Reger".
Die Zeit (in
German). Retrieved 26 November 2015.
Cadenbach, Rainer (1991).
Max Reger und Seine Zeit. Laaber:
Laaber-Verlag. ISBN 3-89007-140-6.
Grim, William (1988). Max Reger: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport,
Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-25311-0.
Häfner, Roland (1982). Max Reger, Klarinettenquintett op. 146.
Munich: W. Fink Verlag. ISBN 3-7705-1973-6.
Kirshnit, Fred (2006). "Max Reger, Psalm 100, Op. 106". American
Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
Krumbiegel, Martin (2014). Sichardt, Martina, ed. Von der Kunst der
Beschränkung / Aufführungspraktische Überlegungen zu Max Regers
Der Mensch lebt und bestehet
Der Mensch lebt und bestehet nur eine kleine Zeit", op. 138, Nr. 1.
Max Reger (in German). Georg Olms Verlag.
Lux, Antonius, ed. (1963). Große Frauen der Weltgeschichte. Tausend
Biographien in Wort und Bild (in German+Hamburg). Munich: Sebastian
Lux Verlag (de). p. 386. CS1 maint: Unrecognized
Liu, Hsin-Hung (2004). "A Study on Compositional Structure in Max
Reger Phantasie für Orgel über den Choral, "Hallelujah! Gott zu
loben, bleibe meine Seelenfreud!"" D.M.A. dissertation. Seattle:
University of Washington.
Mead, Andrew (2004). "Listening to Reger". The Musical Quarterly 87,
no. 4 (Winter): 681–707.
Mercier, Richard (2008). The Songs of Max Reger: A Guide and Study.
Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-6120-6.
Reger, Elsa von Bagenski (1930). Mein Leben mit und für Max Reger:
Erinnerungen von Elsa Reger. Leipzig: Koehler & Amelang.
Reger, Max (2006). Selected Writings of Max Reger, edited and
translated by Christopher Anderson. New York: Routledge.
Schreiber, Ottmar, and Ingeborg Schreiber (1981).
Max Reger in seinen
Konzerten, 3 vols. Veröffentlichungen des Max-Reger-Institutes
(Elsa-Reger-Stiftung) 7. Bonn: Dümmler. ISBN 3-427-86271-2.
Traxler, Carol. "Max Reger". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25.
Schröder, Heribert (1990). "Acht geistliche Gesänge / op. 138"
(PDF). Carus-Verlag. pp. 5–6. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
Slonimsky, Nicolas (1965). Lexicon of Musical Invective (2 ed.). New
York: Coleman-Ross. ISBN 9780393320091.
Williamson, John (2001). "Reger, (Johann Baptist Joseph)
Max(imilian)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second
edition, edited by
Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan
Max Reger Curriculum vitae". Max-Reger-Institute. Retrieved 2 October
"Max Reger's works" (in German).
Elsa-Reger-Stiftung. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
Der 100. Psalm
Der 100. Psalm Op. 106" (in German).
Elsa-Reger-Stiftung. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
"Reger: Acht geistliche Gesänge op. 138 (Carus Classics)".
Carus-Verlag. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
Max Reger - Music As A Perpetual State". muspillo.it. Retrieved 23
"Reger". www.fuguestatefilms.co.uk. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
"Max-Reger-Institut in Karlsruhe / "Neue Fülle"" (in German). SWR.
Retrieved 19 July 2016. [permanent dead link]
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Max Reger.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Max Reger
Consolation Op. 65 No. 4
Performed by Ulrich Metzner
Variations on a Theme by J. S. Bach
Performed by Andriy Bondarenko
Problems playing these files? See media help.
Free scores by
Max Reger at the International Music Score Library
Free scores by
Max Reger in the Choral Public Domain Library
Mutopia Project has compositions by Max Reger
Works by or about
Max Reger at Internet Archive
Aus der Jugendzeit Op. 17 at
University of Toronto
University of Toronto Robarts Library
Max Reger (in German) Deutsche Biographie
Max Reger Foundation of America, New York City
Max Reger Archive Meiningen (in German)
Max Reger Carus-Verlag
Max Reger on bach-cantatas.com
Piano recital without Pianist or
Max Reger plays Max Reger
Max Reger zum 100. Todestag MDR
The portal for the Reger-year 2016 reger2016.de
Max Reger: Werkausgabe Carus-Verlag
Max Reger David C. F. Wright
Max Reger at Find a Grave
Drei Chöre, Op. 6
Drei Chöre, Op. 6 (1892)
Gesang der Verklärten
Gesang der Verklärten (1903)
Der 100. Psalm
Der 100. Psalm (1909)
Geistliche Gesänge, Op. 110
Geistliche Gesänge, Op. 110 (1909–1912)
Die Weihe der Nacht
Die Weihe der Nacht (1911)
Requiem (1914, fragment)
Der Mensch lebt und bestehet
Der Mensch lebt und bestehet (1914)
Unser lieben Frauen Traum
Unser lieben Frauen Traum (1914)
Der Einsiedler (1915)
Fugue on a Theme by Hiller (1904)
Eine romantische Suite
Eine romantische Suite (1912)
Vier Tondichtungen nach A. Böcklin
Vier Tondichtungen nach A. Böcklin (1913)
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart (1914)
Cello Sonata No. 1 (1892)
Sechs Lieder, Op. 4
Sechs Lieder, Op. 4 (1890)
Sechs Lieder, Op. 35
Sechs Lieder, Op. 35 (1899)
"An die Hoffnung" (1912)
"Mariae Wiegenlied" (1912)
Phantasie über den Choral "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott" (1898)
Zwei Choralphantasien, Op. 40
Zwei Choralphantasien, Op. 40 (1899)
Drei Choralphantasien, Op. 52 (1900)
Zwölf Stücke, Op. 65
Zwölf Stücke, Op. 65 (1902)
Zwölf Stücke, Op. 80
Zwölf Stücke, Op. 80 (1902/1904)
Sieben Stücke, Op. 145
Sieben Stücke, Op. 145 (1915/1916)
Meiningen Court Theatre
List of compositions
ISNI: 0000 0001 1024 7128
BNF: cb13898881s (data)