Max Reger, classical music composer

Max Reger image

Max Reger

Biography

A prominent figure of his day, Max Reger makes only sporadic appearances on concert programs and recordings today despite his enormous output. Born in Brand, Bavaria on March 19, 1873 but raised in Weiden, Reger received his first music lessons from his parents, learning organ and violin from his father and piano from his mother. In 1888, he travelled to Bayreuth and attended performances of Wagner's Parsifal and Die Meistersinger, the latter of which had a profound impact on the young man. Two years later, Reger began studies with Hugo Riemann, a noted music theorist, and soon produced his first published piece, the Violin Sonata No. 1, op. 1.

Settling in Munich in 1901, Reger established himself as a both a composer and a remarkable pianist. He frequently gave concerts, both as a soloist and accompanist, and in addition performed on the organ as well. As a composer, Reger managed to fuse the two disparate styles of music that dominated the latter part of the 19th century, creating a unique style all his own. He was a firm proponent of absolute music and saw himself following in the tradition of Beethoven and Brahms. Like Brahms before him, he was also greatly influenced by the counterpoint of Bach. Indeed, Reger was fascinated by the epitome of contrapuntal discipline, the fugue, and many of his works contain examples of it. On the other hand, he combined his classically-minded forms and ideals with the extreme chromaticism of Wagner and Liszt. His output was prolific, particularly in chamber music, and he left examples in nearly every genre of music with the exception of opera and the symphony.

In 1904-05, Reger composed his Sinfonietta in A and its performance antagonized the more conservative musical circles of Munich. Over the next couple of years, Munich turned more hostile to Reger's music and seeking better fortunes, he ultimately accepted a professorship at the Leipzig University in 1907. In 1911, he left Leipzig for Meiningen, accepting the post of Hofkapellmeister at the court of Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. However, health problems forced him to resign the post in 1914. The following year, Reger and his family moved to Jena. There he set out producing some of his most important works, including his last violin sonata and several chamber works for strings. This productive period, unfortunately, was abruptly cut short. Travelling to Holland in 1916 as part of his concert schedule, Reger died of a heart attack on May 11.


Composer Title Date Action
Max Reger Chaconne in g minor for Solo Violin, Op. 117, No. 4 02/12/2009 Play Add to playlist