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Max Reger

German Composer and Pianist Max Reger Born in 1873


German composer and pianist Max Reger was born on this day in 1873.

Throughout his career Reger worked as a concert pianist, as musical director of the Leipzig University Church, as a professor at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig, and as musical director of Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen's court.

Born into a family of amateur musicians, Reger began lessons on the organ, violin and cello with his father, Josef Reger and piano from his mother, Katharina Philomena. Later on, he also studied piano and organ with Adalbert Lindner, who had also been a student of Reger's father.

In 1888, Reger was invited by his uncle Johann Baptist Ulrich to attend the Bayreuth Festival, where he heard Richard Wagner's operas Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Parsifal. This left a deep impression and Reger decided to pursue a music career, despite completing studies at the Royal Preparatory School, which would have set him up for a career in the teaching profession, which was what his parents wanted.

In 1890, Reger began studying music theory with Hugo Riemann in Sondershausen, then piano and theory at the Wiesbaden Conservatory. At this time Reger had already composed several works.

Reger moved to Munich in September 1901, where he obtained concert offers and where his rapid rise to fame began. During his first season there, Reger appeared in ten concerts as an organist, chamber pianist, and accompanist.

As a composer, Reger was highly productive over a period of just over 25 years, primarily focusing on abstract compositions, which gained recognition in Germany during his lifetime. Many of his works, such as the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart, drew from forms like fugues or variations, often inspired by existing themes, like Mozart's Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331.

He also made notable contributions to the organ repertoire, with compositions like the Benedictus from Op. 59 and his Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H, Op. 46, being particularly well-received. His collaboration with organist Karl Straube, which began during his studies under Hugo Riemann in Wiesbaden, led to Straube premiering several of Reger's organ works, including the Three Chorale Fantasias, Op. 52.



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