Reger, (Johann Baptist Joseph) Max(imilian)
- John Williamson
(b Brand, nr Bayreuth, March 19, 1873; d Leipzig, May 11, 1916). German composer. His musical style, which combines a chromatic harmonic language with Baroque and Classical formal procedures, situates him as both a successor to late 19th-century Romanticism and a forerunner of early 20th-century modernism.
Although Reger is often considered the quintessential Bavarian composer, his origins in the Upper Palatinate, however, with its subtly different landscape and more complex history, introduce the possibility that he was also the heir to other traditions. As Hermann Wilske’s necrological studies have shown, Reger’s birthplace, which calls to mind otherworldly seclusion and the pastorale, possesses attributes that distance it from the environment of an ‘authentic’ Bavarian such as Richard Strauss. Reger’s fascination with the music of Bach and the Protestant chorale also suggests that his life and music should not be regarded in an exclusively Bavarian context. Although he insisted that he was a Catholic through and through (despite a renunciation of confession at the age of 11), the curiously ecumenical character of his career flowed from a unique combination of religious and professional characteristics: his mastery of a primarily Protestant genre displays a blend of his professional training as an organist and his high regard for absolute music....