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Profile of Max Reger
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|Also Know As:
|Date of Birth:
||19th March 1873
|Place of Birth:
||Brand [now Brand im Fichtelgebirge], Bavaria, Germany
Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger (March 19, 1873 – May 11, 1916) was a German composer, organist, pianist and teacher.
Born in Brand, Upper Palatinate, Reger studied music in Munich and Wiesbaden with Hugo Riemann. In 1901 he settled in Munich, where he taught organ and composition, and from 1907 he worked in Leipzig, where he was music director of the university until 1908 and professor of composition at the conservatoire until his death. He was also active internationally as a conductor and pianist in that period of time. Among his students there were Joseph Haas and George Szell. From 1911 he conducted the court orchestra at Meiningen until it was disbanded in 1914, when he moved to Jena. He died of a heart attack in Leipzig.
During a composing life of little more than 20 years, Reger produced a large output in all genres, nearly always in abstract forms, although few of his compositions are well known today. 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 of Mozart (based on the opening theme of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Sonata, K. 331). He also wrote a large amount of music for organ, including the Fantasy and Fugue on BACH (this piece, based on the BACH motif, is considered one of the most difficult, most demanding ones in organ literature), and music in virtually every other genre (opera being a notable exception).
He was a firm supporter of 'absolute' music and saw himself as being part of the tradition of Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms. His work often combines the classical structures of these composers with the extended harmonies of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner and the complex counterpoint of Johann Sebastian Bach. His organ music, though also influenced by Liszt, was provoked by that tradition. Of his orchestral pieces, his symphonic and richly elaborate 'Hiller Variations and 'Mozart Variations are justly remembered; of his chamber music the lighter-textured trios have retained a place in the repertory, along with some of the works for solo string instruments. His late piano and two-piano music places him as a successor to Brahms in the central German tradition. He pursued intensively, and to its limits, Brahms's continuous development and free modulation, often also invoking, like Brahms, the aid of Bachian counterpoint: Many of his works are in variation and fugue forms; equally characteristic is a great energy and complexity of thematic growth.
His works were not revolutionary and could be considered retrospective as they followed classical and baroque forms such as the fugue and continuo. The influence of the latter can be heard in his chamber works which are deeply reflective and unconventional.
Reger is also known for his letter to a newspaper critic who had reviewed his work negatively: "I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. Your review is before me. Soon it will be behind me."
Some Reger Works
- Violin sonatas
- Without piano
- Four violin solo sonatas in opus 42
- Seven violin solo sonatas in opus 91
- With piano
- Violin Sonata #1 op. 1 in D minor
- Violin Sonata #2 op. 3 in D major
- Violin Sonata #3 op. 41 in A major
- Violin Sonata #4 op. 72 in C (gave rise to a critical scandal at its premiere, juxtaposed with the first sonata by Ludwig Thuille)
- Violin Sonata #5 op. 84 in F-sharp minor
- Violin Sonata #6 op. 103b/1 in D minor
- Violin Sonata #7 op. 103b/2 in A
- Violin Sonata #8 op. 122 in E minor (1911, premiered Leipzig)
- Violin Sonata #9 op. 139 in C minor (1915)
- Cello sonatas
- Cello Sonata #1 op. 5 in F minor
- Cello Sonata #2 op. 28 in G minor
- Cello Sonata #3 op. 78 in F major
- Cello Sonata #4 op. 116 in A minor
- Serenade #1 opus 77a in D major (flute, violin, viola)
- Serenade #2 opus 141a in G major (flute, violin, viola)
- String trios
- String Trio #1 opus 77b in A minor
- String Trio #2 opus 141b in D minor
- Piano trios
- Piano Trio #1 opus 2 in B minor (violin, viola, piano)
- Piano Trio #2 opus 102 in E minor
- String quartets
- String Quartet ''#0'' in D minor, with optional double bass in finale
- String Quartet #1 opus 54 number 1 in G minor
- String Quartet #2 opus 54 number 2 in A major
- String Quartet #3 opus 74 in D minor
- String Quartet #4 opus 109 in E-flat major
- String Quartet #5 opus 121 in F-sharp minor
- Piano quartets
- Piano Quartet #1 opus 113 in D minor
- Piano Quartet #2 opus 133 in A minor
- Piano quintets
- Piano Quintet #1 op. posthumous in C minor
- Piano Quintet #2 op. 64 in C minor
- Organ (a very, very considerable output)
- Sonata opus 33 in F-sharp minor
- Sonata opus 60 in D minor
- Suite opus 92
- Fantasia and Fugue on a Theme of Bach, opus 64
- Fantasy and Fugue, opus 135b
- Piano (also a large output)
- Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Bach, opus 81
- Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Telemann, opus 134
- Clarinet quintet op. 146 in A major
- String sextet op. 118 in F major
- Violin concerto opus 101 in A major
- Piano concerto opus 114 in F minor
- Concerto in the Olden Style opus 123
- Large-Scale Symphonic
- Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Beethoven, opus 86 (arranged from a 2-piano work)
- Sinfonietta, opus 90 in A major
- Serenade, opus 95
- Hiller Variations, opus 100
- Symphonic Prologue to a Tragedy, opus 108
- Romantic Suite, opus 125
- Four Tone Poems after A. Bocklin, opus 128
- Variations on a Theme of Mozart, opus 132
- Choir and Orchestra
- Psalm 100, opus 106 (arranged also by Hindemith, has also been recorded in this form)
- Anderson, Christopher (2003). Max Reger and Karl Straube: Perspectives on an Organ Performing Tradition. Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0754630757.
- Bittmann, Antonius (2004). Max Reger and Historicist Modernisms. Baden-Baden: Koerner. ISBN 3-87320-595-5.
- Cadenbach, Rainer (1991). Max Reger und Seine Zeit. Laaber, Germany: Laaber-Verlag. ISBN 3890071406.
- Grim, William (1988). Max Reger: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313253110.
- The Max Reger Pages (in transition)
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