Max Reger (1873–1916)

Max Reger achieved lasting fame primarily through his organ works, although his achievements in the areas chamber music, lieder, choral and orchestral works are also important.

Max Reger, born in Brand, Upper Palatinate, on March 19, 1873, grew up in the nearby city of Weiden and received musical instruction early on.

Following studies with the renowned music theoretician Hugo Riemann, Reger suffered a nervous and physical breakdown as a result of his period of military service and professional setbacks, returning to his parents' house in 1898.

Then Reger's productivity increased enormously until, in 1901, he was able to convince his family to move to Munich, where he hoped for more musical stimuli than were to be found in Upper Palatinate. In 1902 Reger, a Catholic, married Elsa von Bercken, a divorced Protestant, resulting in his excommunication.

Reger was extremely productive, both as a composer and a concert pianist. He was appointed successor to Rheinberger in the Akademie der Tonkunst in 1905 but gave up this position just one year later due to disagreements with the predominantly conservative faculty.

During a concert sojourn in Karlsruhe in 1907, Reger received an appointment as university music director and professor at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig; he continued his performing and composing activities. Although he once again gave up the position of university music director, he instead took up the post of court Kapellmeister in Meiningen in 1911, which he occupied until 1914.

He continued to compose and perform intensively after moving to Jena in 1915, whence he travelled once a week to Leipzig for his classes. Reger suffered heart failure during one of these trips in May 1916.

(Max Reger Institute, from the booklet to "Max Reger - Das gesamte Orgelwerk, Vol. 1", CD Oehms Classics, 2012)

March 19, 2023 marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Max Reger.