Reger, Max Johann Baptist Joseph

Reger, Max Johann Baptist Joseph


Born Mar. 19, 1873, in Brand, Oberpfalz; died May 11, 1916, in Leipzig. German composer, organist, pianist, and conductor.

Reger studied composition with H. Riemann from 1890 to 1893. He taught composition in Munich and Leipzig, and was the conductor of the court orchestra in Meiningen from 1911 to 1914. All genres except opera are represented in his work. His instrumental music is for the most part not program music. One of the rare exceptions is the Böcklin Suite, four tone poems after A. Böcklin for a symphony orchestra, composed in 1913, which shows the influence of R. Strauss and C. Debussy. Reger’s style developed mainly under the influence of Brahms and of Bach (to whom Reger dedicated the Suite in E minor, opus 16, for organ, 1894–95). Wagner’s harmony also made a lasting impression on Reger.

Neoclassical tendencies are evinced in Reger’s work by his selection of genres and forms (the ancient suite, the prelude and fugue, the solo sonata and the concerto grosso), by his fascination with the organ, and by his partiality to polyphony, which was the essence of his musical approach. These tendencies are especially clear in his last works: Concerto in the Old Style for orchestra (1912) and Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart for orchestra (1914). In these works, Reger achieved a clarification of harmonic language and a terse linearity of composition that anticipated 20th-century neoclassicism.


Karatygin, V. “M. Reger.” In Izbr. stat’i. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Karatygin, V. “Noveishie techeniia ν zapadnoevropeiskoi muzyke.” Ibid. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Kolomiitsov, V. “Muzyka nastoiashchego: Rikhard Vagner i poiski novykh bogov.” In Stat’i i pis’ma. Leningrad, 1971.
Shaltuper, Iu. “Zametki o Makse Regere.” Sovetskaia Muzyka, 1973, no. 12.