Max Reger

German composer (Brand 1873 – Leipzig 1916)

Max Reger was a German composer of the turn of the 20th century, very appreciated in his own country. His works were mainly Romantic, but they also explored the limits of tonality, thanks to a frequent use of chromaticism.

After taking piano lessons, Max Reger started studying organ with Adalbert Lindner using the method of Hugo Riemann, a renown music theorist and composer. Soon, the student surpassed his master, replacing him during concerts, and was noticed by Riemann who encouraged him to enter the Music Academy in Sondershausen. Riemann also offered him a position as his assistant, teaching piano and organ.

In 1895, Reger had the opportunity to study piano and theory at the Wiesbaden Conservatory. Between 1898 and 1903, he wrote works for piano, particularly fantasias for organ of renowned songs; the German organist Karl Straube then premiered many of Reger's organ works. His compositions caused controversy, and they were rarely well received.

After that, Reger performed on stage as a pianist, taught at the Royal Music Academy, as well as the Leipzig Conservatory, then directed the vocal ensemble Porges and the music department of Leipzig University. Because of his uncompromising temper,  he never kept these positions for a very long time. However, he held the position of professor of composition at the Conservatory in Leipzig until his death.

Reger was more successful at the end of his life: after a fruitful series of concerts, he was appointed music director at the court of Meiningen's Orchestra, with whom he worked to a great success.

6 landmark dates in the life of Reger 

• 1896: Met Richard Strauss

• 1901: Moved to Munich where he starts giving concerts

• 1907: Appointed musical director at the Leipzig University Church

• 1908: Taught at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig

• 1911: Appointed musical director at the court of Saxe-Meiningen

• 1915: Moved to Jena for health reasons

6 key works in the life of Reger

• 1904: String Quartet no. 3 in D minor

• 1905: Sinfonietta

• 1912: Romantic Suite

• 1913: four tone poems on paintings by Arnold Böcklin (Vier Tongedichte nach Arnold Böcklin)

• 1914: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart

• 1916: Clarinet Quintet