An Introduction to the Organ Music of Max Reger

Christopher Anderson & Dean Billmeyer

Tuesday, June 21, 9 AM

Max Reger (1873 – 1916) played a central role in the innovative and often turbulent musical culture of his time, contributing works for every medium except opera. For complex cultural reasons, it has been particularly Reger’s organ works that have found a secure place in the repertory, and indeed this substantial corpus (28 opus numbers comprising well over 200 pieces) marks a watershed moment in the history of musical modernism generally and organ music specifically. Still, Reger’s style, which owes much to hyper-chromatic, post-Wagnerian idioms, has eluded many organists, who have not been furnished with anything like a systematic way into the music and its performance practices. This workshop presents a new volume in the Wayne Leupold Annotated Performers Edition Series, thus addressing this need in the year marking the one hundredth anniversary of Reger’s death.

An Introduction to the Organ Music of Max Reger, edited by Dean Billmeyer with an extensive preface by Christopher Anderson, offers a collection of Reger’s easier pieces drawn from all his creative periods and genres, including both chorale-based and free works. We will summarize the contents, speak about the collection’s motivations and general aims, and address several examples where the edition clarifies or suggests appropriate approaches to characteristic musical problems.

Christopher Anderson is Associate Professor of Sacred Music at Southern Methodist University, Dallas. His work focuses on early musical modernism, modern German history and philosophy, the organ’s position in Western culture, and Max Reger. He has written extensively on Reger and his music in two books and many essays. He has edited the first complete survey of organ music in the twentieth century (Twentieth-Century Organ Music, Routledge 2011) and now is at work on the first critical biography of Karl Straube.

Dean Billmeyer is University Organist and Professor of Music at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. A pupil of the late David Craighead, his numerous performance awards include prizes in the Dublin International Organ Competitions in 1980 and 1988. Billmeyer’s interest in the music of Reger stems in part from his position as the successor in Minnesota to Heinrich Fleischer (1912-2006), who was regarded for many years as Karl Straube’s most prominent student active in the United States. Billmeyer is presently pursuing a study of interpretation of Bach’s organ Preludes and Fugues as documented in Straube’s edition for C. F. Peters.