Max Reger, 1873 – 1916

March 19, 1873 – Birthdate of Max Reger, German pianist, composer, and conductor.

Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger was born in Brand, Bavaria and studied music in Munich and Wiesbaden with Hugo Riemann. From September 1901, he settled in Munich, where he obtained concert offers and where his rapid rise to fame began. During his first Munich season, Reger appeared in ten concerts as an organist, chamber pianist and accompanist. He continued to compose without interruption. From 1907, he worked in Leipzig, where he was music director of the university until 1908 and professor of composition at the conservatory until his death. In 1911 he moved to Meiningen where he got the position of Hofkapellmeister at the court of Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. In 1915 he moved to Jena, commuting once a week to teach in Leipzig. He died in May 1916 on one of these trips of a heart attack at age 43.

Reger produced an enormous output over little more than 25 years, nearly always in abstract forms. Few of his compositions are well known in the 21st century. 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 by Mozart based on the opening theme of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331. He also wrote a large amount of music for organ, the most famous being his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and the Fantasy and Fugue on Bach.

German issued this stamp in 1991, memorializing the 75th anniversary of Reger’s death (Michel Catalog No. 1529):

max reger - Germany

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