Performance practice in Max Reger’s Phantasie und Fuge über B-A-C-H, opus 46

January 20, 2023
Max Reger
Max Reger during a recording session in 1913 playing a Welte Philharmonic organ


The Phantasie und Fuge über B-A-C-H (1900), opus 46 of Max Reger (1873–1916), is one of the composer’s crowning achievements for the organ written during a career that has given us more than 200 organ works that are widely performed. In this article, the author will look at the question of registration for performing opus 46. This will take into consideration the historical registration and components of the Walze (Rollschweller) of the Sauer organ, Opus 650, on which opus 46 was premiered by Karl Straube (1873–1950), a champion of Reger’s music. The author will provide a solution for reproducing German Romantic registration on the Maidee H. and Jackson A. Seward Organ,
C. B. Fisk, Inc., Opus 135, in Auer Hall of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, Bloomington, Indiana, as a model for general solutions on various modern instruments. It is hoped that the solutions and ideas presented will not only promote performance of Reger’s opus 46, but will be useful as well in performing both the remainder of his repertoire and music by such composers as Joseph Rheinberger (1839–1901), Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877–1933), Franz Schmidt (1874–1939), and other members of the German high-Romantic tradition.

Historical registration

Registration of Reger’s organ music has been a controversial issue since the composer did not provide clear indications of what stops he preferred. Another reason is the general lack of familiarity with the German Romantic organ as compared with its French or English counterparts among American organists. In general, Reger provides either dynamic markings (with a wide range from pppp to fff, and Organo Pleno) or rather vague suggestions such as “dunkel” (“dark” in German). He sometimes provides pitch indications for stops, but if one blindly follows the pitch instructions on modern organs, the result will most likely be far from the sound Reger desired. I propose a registration combination based on data1 that were kindly provided by the German organ builder Christian Scheffler and his colleagues, experts of Romantic German organ restoration, particularly with Sauer organs.2

Phantasie und Fuge über B-A-C-H, opus 46, was premiered on Wilhelm Sauer’s organ, Opus 650, built in 1895 for Willibrordi Cathedral in Wesel (Rhein), Germany, where Straube held his first full-time church organist position, starting in 1897.3 The event occurred in summer 1900, several months after the completion of the composition in February of that year.4 The specification of the organ is provided in Table 1. (The cathedral was heavily damaged, and the organ was destroyed during bombing raids in 1945.)

The organ features three manuals and pedal, six unison couplers, one octave coupler, one preset piston for reeds, one Rollschweller, one expression shoe for Manual III, and three kinds of preset pistons for mf, f, ff that affect all the manuals and the pedal simultaneously. This specification can be a great guide for recreating the sound of Reger’s music. Moreover, what I consider to be the key to making appropriate registrations and crescendos can be learned by the study of those three preset pistons and in the Rollschweller at each stage. I am grateful to Christian Scheffler and colleagues for their assistance and for providing me previously unpublished information about these registration devices of the Sauer organ.

The components of the Walze (Rollschweller) are provided in Tables 2.1 and 2.2. The levels are numbered from 1 to 73, in the order in which they are added as one turns the Rollschweller.

Tables 3.1 and 3.2 demonstrate the components of the preset pistons. “Werk” indicates manual, and “P” stands for pedal. The principal manual of the organ is Manual I, the bottom keyboard.

Reger’s sound world

In German Romantic organs such as those built by Sauer or Walcker, there are many soft stops of various colors. These would include Voix céleste, Aeoline, Lieblich Gedackt, Geigen Principal, Dolce, Dulciana, Harmonika, Fugara, etc., some of which are not often found in modern American organs or instruments built in different traditions. These stops create a very special quality at the beginning stage of the Walze, and they are the foundational sound of German Romantic organ registration.5 As important as they are, the key for reproducing an authentic Reger registration on Fisk Opus 135 lies in finding equivalence for them.

As can be seen from the order of stops being added in the Walze, the Sauer organ offers a wider variety of inflections within the ppp to mp range than it does from mf to fff. From levels 1 to 13, there are only 8′ stops used in manuals and 16′ and 8′ stops in the pedal, and those stops are flutes or strings. From levels 14 to 27, principal stops are introduced, including in the pedal. From level 28, 4′ pitch stops are found. Beginning at level 44, stops higher than 2′ are drawn, including mutations. Level 49’s 8′ Vox humana and level 50’s Oboe 8′ are the first reed stops to be added. From that point, the crescendo is made rather abruptly toward the end, which is level 73, with mixtures and relatively loud reed stops added to each division. In short, levels 1 to 49 cover the range of pppp to mf, and levels 50 to 73 range from f to fff.

As we examine opus 46, the greatest dynamic level short of Org Pl indicated by the composer is più fff, not ffff, while his softest indication is pppp. This tells us that he might have found the range of pppp to mf more important in his music. Moreover, according to Reger’s piano performance reviews, we find many descriptions regarding his frequent use of pianissimo.6 Given the nature of his scores, this might seem surprising, but there is clear evidence for this.

In addition to composing, Reger had been an active collaborative pianist since his youth at the conservatories in Sondershausen and Wiesbaden beginning in 1890. At that time, he was mostly playing accompaniment for soloists’ exams or concerts.

After his well-received performance of the premiere of his Violin Sonata in A, opus 41, in Munich in December 1900, the frequency of his activity as a performer gradually increased beginning in 1901, especially after moving to that city. In later periods of his life when he was most active as a performer, the frequency of his piano and conducting performances exceeded one hundred per year.7 Therefore, it can be an important key to understanding the performance practice of Reger’s organ music by considering the kind of music making Reger had been engaged in with other instruments.

There are critics who described Reger’s piano performances in a positive light, utilizing terms such as “soft touch,” “a pianist who can draw songs from the piano at his own will,” “thoughtful accompaniment cradles the singer,” and “very sustainable (ausdauernd) touch,”8 while others more critically stated “extreme pianissimo,” “because of his almost constant admiration of pianissimo, it was hard to hear the harmonic foundation,” or “we could not hear anything at all no matter how closely we paid attention to, or it was too little and unclear, so the singer’s part was often heard as floating in the air without any harmonic support.”9 One notices many pianissimo indications in his compositions both for piano and organ as well as his vocal and chamber music.

As for his conducting, similar opinions are found in the concert reviews such as, “As a conductor, his interpretation is also sensitive and precise. Here again, it is obvious he is fond of that mysterious pianissimo. But this is not because he is seeking for the effect of it, but it is rather something special that is already with his soul.”10 Or, “The unshakable chamber music performance tradition, whose foundation was established by Bülow, has pianissimo sound quality just as Reger’s characteristic, and it never collapses no matter how flexible it becomes. It resonates soft and sensitive, just as Reger’s daydreaming pianissimo accompaniment.”11

In contrast, descriptions about his f or ff are relatively rare: “It is obvious that Reger is an attractive pianist. His pianissimo has a smell of magic, and his fortissimo is never too loud, but has the power of the orchestra.”12 Another critic wrote, “All he needs to do is just place his fingers on the keyboard, and then there will be soft and fulfilling sound in the room. In the soft pianissimo, it is as spirited as singing. In the lively fortissimo, there will be a substantial and comfortable sound.”13

From noting the frequent appearance of fff in his organ scores among multitudes of written notes, one could be led to a misunderstanding that Reger asks for extremely loud or tutti registrations, but his specialty was creating expressive and tender pianissimos. This would seem to echo the very gradual and colorful range of the initial stages of the Walze, in which a nuanced differentiation of soft dynamics is clearly available.

There is also an interesting description of his piano performance in one of the reviews, mentioning “Reger’s tenderness (zartheit), as he was drawing the Voix céleste sound of the organ from the piano.”14 From this review, we can assume that Reger was trying to express the Voix céleste or equivalent sound of the organ in terms of volume and characteristic.

Practical suggestions for registration

In light of this knowledge of Reger’s organ sound world, one can apply this to registering an American instrument. C. B. Fisk, Inc., Opus 135 is a worthy model for our discussion.

Although most of the crescendos are considered to have been made with the Walze at that time, I assume there must have been performance assistants to accomplish some of the registration changes, as well. For example, there are numerous places when both of the performer’s feet are completely occupied but the music asks for a crescendo or a decrescendo, as in bar 24 in the “Phantasie” (Example 1).

Dynamics, tempo, and rubato all combine in creating the large-range phrases in this music. A crescendo marking means more than just changing the volume; it means increasing the energy of a phrase, which can be accomplished by accelerating the tempo or including various kinds of accented articulations depending on the musical textures. The same varieties of approaches (tempo ritardando, more over-legato, etc.) can be applied when making a decrescendo, implying the loss of energy. This is accomplished not merely through one dimension, but can also engage several aspects of the music.15 The organist must employ several different techniques regarding tempo and articulation in addition to simply drawing more sound out of the instrument. Lastly, changing volume alone can be undertaken through a combination of means, including the use of expression shoes, the Rollschweller, or changing manuals.

Also, on the third beat of measure 25, Reger asks for a sudden registration change to ff from the decrescendo in measure 24. In principle, the Walze is a device for making crescendos and decrescendos by rolling it upwards or downwards, so it cannot be used for a sudden registration change such as Reger asks for here. One can assume it was done by a combination button, ff specifically for this case; however, there are also places that the music requires a sudden change to pp or p with a specific indication of coupler(s) off. The instrument on which it was premiered did not have a combination button for this action (with Sauer Opus 650, all six unison couplers are on by level 12 of the Walze). Therefore, there must have been the combined use of the Walze, preset combination buttons, and registration assistants in order to perform the required registration changes.

In correspondence with Christopher Anderson, a noted Reger scholar, he suggested that while Straube could readily play these large-scale works of Reger without assistants, there is evidence that he did indeed work with assistants on occasion.16 Furthermore, Dr. Anderson suggests that Straube was very much involved in projecting his reputation and abilities for performing this music without registration assistants.

In registering this work on Fisk Opus 135, I decided to use the sequencer in order to reproduce fine-grained differentiations available by means of the sort of Walze found in the Sauer organ, in order best to approximate the sound of the instrument with which Reger would have been familiar. In order to best capture the effect of this now unavailable technology, I used assistants to aid the registrations during my performance. It would be fascinating to perform this work on an instrument with a sophisticated Rollschweller in place.

What follows is the procedure I used to devise my own Walze.

Determine what resources are available on the organ.

In order to produce the Walze crescendo as closely as possible to the original Sauer Opus 650, I needed to determine what equivalent or nearly equivalent stops are available on Fisk Opus 135 and what are not. For this step, Steven Dieck, now president emeritus and chairman of the board of C. B. Fisk, Inc., lent me great support and advice. 

Table of equivalent stops

Manual I (C–f3)

Sauer: Fisk:

16′ Principal—16′ Montre

16′ Bordun —

16′ Gamba —

8′ Principal—8′ Montre

8′ Hohlflöte —

8′ Viola di Gamba—8′ Gambe

8′ Doppelflöte —

8′ Gemshorn—8′ Spire Flute

8′ Traversflöte—8′ Flûte harmonique

8′ Quintatön —

8′ Geigenprincipal —

8′ Gedackt —

5-1⁄3′ Quinte —

4′ Octave—4′ Prestant

4′ Spitzflöte —

4′ Fugara —

4′ Rohrflöte—4′ Chimney Flute

2-2⁄3′ Rauschquinte II —

3-1⁄5′ Gross-Cymbel III —

2′ Piccolo —

Mixture V—Plein jeu harmonique II–VI

Scharf V—Plein jeu VI

Cornett III–V —

16′ Trompete—16′ Trommet

8′ Trompete—8′ Trommet

Manual II (C–f3)

16′ Geigenprincipal —

16′ Bordun—16′ Quintaton

8′ Principal—8′ Principal

8′ Rohrflöte —

8′ Salicional—8′ Viole d’amore

8′ Flûte harmonique —

8′ Spitzflöte —

8′ Harmonika —

8′ Gedackt—8′ Gedackt

8′ Dolce—8′ Flute Celeste

4′ Octave—4′ Octave

4′ Flöte—4′ Hohlflöte

4′ Gemshorn—4′ Violina

4′ Flauto dolce —

2-2⁄3′ Rauschquinte II—2′ Quarte de Nasard

Mixtur IV Mixture IV

Cornett IV —

16′ Fagott—16′ Clarinet

8′ Tuba—8′ Cornopean

8′ Oboë —

Manual III (C–f3, Schwellwerk)

16′ Salicional —

16′ Lieblich Gedackt—16′ Bourdon

8′ Principal—8′ Diapason

8′ Konzertflöte—8′ Flûte traversière

8′ Schalmei —

8′ Lieblich Gedackt—8′ Bourdon

8′ Aeoline —

8′ Voix céleste—8′ Voix céleste

8′ Dulciana—8′ Viole de gambe

4′ Praestant—4′ Dulciane

4′ Traversflöte—4′ Flûte octaviante

4′ Violine —

2-2⁄3′ Gemshornquinte—2-2⁄3′ Nasard

2′ Flautino—2′ Octavin

Harm. aetherea III —

8′ Clarinette —

8′ Vox humana—8′ Voix humaine

Pedal (C–d1)

32′ Contrabass —

32′ Untersatz—32′ Principal

16′ Principal—16′ Montre

16′ Violon —

16′ Subbass—16′ Soubasse

16′ Gemshorn —

16′ Bassflöte—16′ Bourdon (Sw)

10-2⁄3′ Quintbass—10-2⁄3′ Quinte

8′ Oktavbass—8′ Octave

8′ Violoncello—8′ Violoncelle

8′ Gedackt—8′ Bourdon

8′ Viola d’amour—8′ Spire Flute

4′ Flöte—4′ Octave

Cornett III —

32′ Contraposaune—32′ Contre Posaune

16′ Posaune—16′ Posaune

8′ Trompete—8′ Trommet (Gt)

4′ Clairon—4′ Clairon

One will notice that there are a number of stop equivalents missing on Fisk Opus 135 in Auer Hall. To compensate for this, I made some adjustments by using both Swell and Positive expression shoes and using alternative stops case by case in the music.

Apply the stops we have according to the components of the Walze of Sauer Opus 650.

Now we apply the stops one by one with Tables 2.1 and 2.2 (see page 12).

1) Sauer: II/I, III/I, III/II, III/P, 8′ Aeoline (III), 16′ Bassflöte (P); Fisk: II/I, III/I, III/II, III/P, 8′ Viole de gambe (III), 16′ Bourdon (P), both expression boxes shut

2) 8′ Liebl. Gedackt (III); Fisk: 8′ Bourdon (III)

3) 8′ Dolce (II); Fisk: 8′ Flute Celeste II (II)

4) 8′ Gedackt (II), 16′ Subbas (P); Fisk: 8′ Gedackt (II), 16′ Soubasse (P)

5) 8′ Dulciana (III), II/P; Fisk: II/P, 8′ Flute Celeste II (II), open Swell box slightly

6) 8′ Salicional (II); Fisk: 8′ Viole d’amore (II)

7) 8′ Gemshorn (I), 8′ Gedackt (P); Fisk: 8′ Spire Flute (I), 8′ Bourdon (P)

8) 8′ Rohrflöte (II), 16′ Gemshorn (P); Fisk: open Positive box slightly

9) 8′ Spitzflöte (II); Fisk: open Positive box a bit more

10) 8′ Konzertflöte (III); Fisk: 8′ Flûte traversière (III)

For levels 11 through 17, since most of the equivalent stops are missing on Fisk Opus 135, one can open both of the expression boxes up to half to compensate in the crescendo.

11) 8′ Gedackt (I); Fisk: —

12) 8′ Schalmei (III), I/P; Fisk: I/P

13) 8′ Quintatön (I); Fisk: —

14) 8′ Principal (III); Fisk: 8′ Diapason

15) 8′ Hohlflöte (I); Fisk: —

16) 8′ Flute harmonique (II); Fisk: —

17) 8′ Harmonica (II), 16′ Violon (P); Fisk: —

18) 16′ Lieblich Gedackt (III); Fisk: 16′ Bourdon (III)

19) 8′ Principal (II), 8′ Viola d’amour (P); Fisk: 8′ Principal (II), 8′ Spire Flute (P)

20) 8′ Geigenprincipal (I); Fisk: —

21) 8′ Traversflöte (I), 8′ Cello (P); Fisk: 8′ Flûte harmonique (I), 8′ Violoncelle (P)

22) 16′ Bordun (II); Fisk: 16′ Quintaton

23) 8′ Viola di Gamba (I); Fisk: 8′ Gambe

24) 16′ Salicional (III); Fisk: open Swell box slightly

25) 16′ Bordun (I); Fisk: open both boxes slightly more

26) 8′ Principal (I); Fisk: 8′ Montre (I)

27) 8′ Octavbaß (P); Fisk: 8′ Octave (P)

28) 4′ Traversflöte (III); Fisk: 4′ Flûte octaviante (III)

29) 16′ Geigenprincipal (II); Fisk: open Positive box slightly

30) 4′ Flauto dolce (II); Fisk: open Positive box a bit more

31) 16′ Principal (P); Fisk: 16′ Montre (P)

32) 4′ Violine (III); Fisk: open Swell box slightly

33) 8′ Doppelflöte (I); Fisk: open both boxes slightly

34) 4′ Flöte (II); Fisk: 4′ Hohlflöte (II)

35) 4′ Rohrflöte (I); Fisk: 4′ Chimney Flute (I)

36) 4′ Flöte (P); Fisk: 4′ Octave (P)

37) 4′ Gemshorn (II); Fisk: 4′ Violina (II)

38) 16′ Principal (I); Fisk: 16′ Montre (I)

39) 4′ Spitzflöte (I); Fisk: open both boxes slightly

40) 4′ Prästant (III); Fisk: 4′ Dulciane

41) 8′ Doppelflöte (I); Fisk: open both boxes slightly

42) 4′ Octave (II); Fisk: 4′ Octave (II)

43) 4′ Fugara (I); Fisk: open both boxes slightly

44) Gemshornquinte 2-2⁄3′ (III); Fisk: Nasard 2-2⁄3′ (III)

45) 2′ Flautino (III); Fisk: 2′ Octavin (II)

46) 4′ Octave (I); Fisk: 4′ Prestant (I)

47) Quinte 5-1⁄3′ (I); Fisk: fully open Positive box and open Swell box to 90%

48) III Harm. Aetheria (III); Fisk: fully open Swell box

49) 8′ Vox humana (III); Fisk: 8′ Voix humaine (III)

50) 8′ Oboe (II); Fisk: 8′ Hautbois (III)

51) II Rauschquinte (II); Fisk: 2′ Quarte de Nasard (II)

52) II Rauschquinte (I); Fisk: —

53) III Cornett (P); Fisk: —

54) 2′ Piccolo (I); Fisk: 2′ Doublette (I)

55) IV Mixtur (II); Fisk: 2′ Doublette (II)

56) 8′ Trompete (P); Fisk: 8′ Trommet (P)

57) V Mixtur (I); Fisk: II–VI Plein jeu harmonique (I)

58) 10-2⁄3′ Quintbass (P); Fisk: 10-2⁄3′ Quinte (P)

59) V Scharff (I); Fisk: VI Plein jeu (I)

60) 8′ Tuba (II); Fisk: 8′ Cornopean (II)

61) 16′ Fagott (II); Fisk: 16′ Clarinet (II)

62) IV Cornett (II); Fisk: IV Mixture (II)

63) 8′ Clarinette (III); Fisk: —

64) 16′ Posaune (P); Fisk: 16′ Posaune (P)

65) 32′ Untersatz (P); Fisk: 32′ Principal (P)

66) III–V Cornet (I); Fisk: —

67) III Groß Cymbel (I); Fisk: —

68) 8′ Trompete (I) Fisk: 8′ Trommet (I)

69) 16′ Trompete (I); Fisk: 16′ Trommet (I)

70) 32′ Contrabaß (P); Fisk: 16′ Contrebasse (P)

71) 4′ Clairon (P); Fisk: 4′ Clairon (P)

72) 32′ Contraposaune (P); Fisk: 32′ Contre Posaune (P)

73) Octavkoppel; Fisk: Octaves graves coupler

Regarding the couplers, I followed Reger’s original indications in the score, since organs by different builders have different Walze components. The coupler indications included in the Walze vary from instrument to instrument. For example, the Walze components list of the Ladegast organ in the cathedral of Schwerin, Germany, does not have any coupler indications, although one can assume all couplers must have been on from the beginning.17 On the other hand, there may be opposite cases as well.18

Here I provide some excerpts with explanations:

In Example 2, I have marked with red circles the coupler indications (K=koppel) that are designated by Reger. The opening registration includes only the II/P and III/P pedal couplers. At più fff, one adds I/P, following the indication. The Walze levels I chose here are 65, 68, and 72 for each step of greater dynamics, starting from fff to Org Pl. Since Org Pl represents the highest dynamic level in this piece, I applied level 72 for whenever one sees that dynamic level indication. (Level 72 is the second highest dynamic in the Walze, and the highest level 73 is achieved by adding the octaves graves coupler. I have reserved this for the end of the fugue.) Since Reger uses the fff indication frequently, I used level 65 as a guide for level number mapping.

In this section, there are dynamic levels from Org Pl to fff to pppp in four measures. Just as at the beginning, I have set level 65 as fff and level 72 as Org Pl. Since both the crescendo and decrescendo do not have much room for gradual increase or decrease of the sound, I have set the goal for each end first and filled in with the Walze level with most appropriate octave levels (16′, 8′, 4′, 2′). For example, since I wanted to create the softest sound at the end of measure 10 (Example 3), I set level 2 with the Swell box closed. In the beginning of measure 10, there is an indication of ppp with nur 8′, meaning only 8′ pitch stops. So I located level 17 there, which is the highest Walze level without any pitches other than 8′ for the manuals. However, I did not always follow Reger’s octave indications. For example, in the beginning of measure 11, he indicated +4′, but I decided not to follow that immediately since the dynamic gap between level 2 with box closed versus +4′, which is level 28, is too great and sounds abrupt. Instead, I used level 18 in the beginning of the bar, and as I open the Swell box gradually, go to level 28, which is the first level that includes a 4′ stop. Again, the goal of this crescendo is toward fff at the end of the measure, which is level 65, so I tried to fill in the levels between as smoothly as possible by using both logical thinking of octave doubling included in the levels and using my own ears to experiment in Auer Hall through repeated playing.

Regarding the pedal couplers, although I followed Reger’s indications by taking them off one by one toward ppp in measure 10 in the first half of the excerpt, I decided to add III/P once we start the crescendo in measure 11, so the pedal line can also make a crescendo as I open the Swell box. This particular spot in the piece offers several interesting challenges for registration. From the middle of measure 24 to the beginning of measure 25 (Example 4), there is a decrescendo from Org Pl to p in a very short span. This type of crescendo or decrescendo is found frequently in Reger’s music, which can be effectively performed by using the Rollschweller or the Walze concept. For the sake of practicality, instead of using all levels from 72 to 41, I chose nine levels to make it work effectively to my ears. I have located the numbers mostly on beats and more frequently towards the end of the decrescendo.

Other interesting elements in this section are the dynamic, manual, and coupler indications in measure 25. There is +I/P indicated on the third beat, but the same coupler is to be taken off on the next beat. Also, the decrescendo indication is written from p towards the third beat, which is ff. Although they all seem to be Reger’s original indications since this information may be found in the manuscript, first printing, and current edition, after conducting several experiments, I made the decision not to make any specific registration change nor use an expression shoe, but only to create a dynamic change by following the manual change indication.


One of the greatest challenges in performing the organ music of Max Reger is developing an approach to registration. I have focused on this, beginning with a study of a historically informed disposition of the Sauer organ, Opus 650, on which Reger’s opus 46 was premiered. I paid particular attention to the components of the Walze for Sauer Opus 650 as a strategy for registration. This was the key for understanding what the music was expected to sound like.

The characteristic of the crescendo created by the Walze runs through an enormous range of soft registrations from pppp to p, which matched Reger’s own sound world as exemplified by contemporary descriptions19 of his piano playing. The wide variety of soft registrations in this Sauer Walze encourages us to pay close attention to the shaping of Reger’s softer dynamics in all of his organ music, not only opus 46.

Using the dynamic profile suggested by the Sauer Walze, we can begin to imagine how we might register Reger’s organ music on contemporary American instruments. In contrast to the example of the high German Romantic instruments, many American instruments do not have quite the same range of softer stops. It would seem that the breadth of soft stops in these German instruments is greater than what is found in most organbuilding traditions. In the process of providing a model of the Sauer Walze for Fisk Opus 135 in Auer Hall, I undertook certain adjustments using Swell and Positive expression shoes to fill in the gaps to mimic the long, finely graded crescendo from pppp to p. Using this construction and closely reading Reger’s dynamics and coupler indications enabled me to create a reasonable replication of a German Romantic instrument. I hope this exercise will provide a useful approach for others undertaking this extensive work. This approach can also underlie registration interpretations for other works by Reger and potentially other composers such as Franz Liszt, Julius Reubke, and Franz Schmidt, whose music dynamics are indicated in a similar manner and whose music was performed on similar instruments.


1. Material shared by Christian Scheffler and his colleagues via email, January 5, 2021.

2. Christian Scheffler Orgelwerkstatt website, orgelwerkstatt.de.

3. Christopher Anderson, Max Reger and Karl Straube: Perspectives on an Organ Performing Tradition (Aldershot, Hants, England: 2003), 29–30. 

4. Ibid., 360.

5. Jon Laukvik and Christopher Anderson, trans., Historical Performance Practice in Organ Playing, Part 2: The Romantic Period (Stuttgart: Carus Verlag, 2010), 158–159.

6. Kouga Higashiyama, “Study of Max Reger’s Performance Style as a ‘Pianist’ by the Analysis of his Concert Reviews コンサートレビューの分析による「ピアニスト」マックス・レーガーの演奏スタイル研究” (DMA diss., Kyoto University of the Arts, 2018), 52–61. The author identifies the following as his original source: Ottmar Schreiber and Ingeborg Schreiber, Rezensionen, Max Reger in seinen Konzerten, Teil 3 (Bonn: Dümmler,1981).

7. Ibid., 25.

8. Ibid., 43–53. 「柔らかなタッチ」「ピアノから歌を意のままに引き出すピアニスト」「声楽家にぴったりと寄り添う心のこもった伴奏」「とても持続力のある ausdauernd タッチ」.

9. Ibid., 50–53. 「極端なピアニッシモ」「ほとんど絶え間なくピアニッシモを崇拝し続けるせいで和声の土台が聞き取れず」「どんなに注意を集中していても全く何も聞こえなかったり、あるいはあまり に小さく不明瞭で、歌のパートが和声の支えも全く無く、ただただ空中に漂っているように聞こえたりす ることがしばしばあったからだ。」.

10. Ibid., 58. 「今や指揮者としての解釈でも、同様の繊細さや確実さを示している。ここでも、彼がしばしば神秘的なピアニッシモへ没入することを好んでいるのが目立つ。しかしこれは彼が効果を求め ているのではなく、彼の魂に備わった特別な素質なのだ。」.

11. Ibid., 58. 「揺るぎないアンサンブル——ビューローによってその基盤が築かれた——は、そのピアニッシモの音質が既にレーガーの特質を完全に備えている一方で、どれほど柔軟になっても、決し て崩れるような素振りを見せなかった。レーガーのピアノ伴奏の静かな夢想のように、柔らかく繊細に響 く。」.

12. Ibid., 52.   「レーガーが魅力的なピアニストだということは確実だ。彼のピアニッシモの香りには魔力があり、フォルティッシモの力は、騒がしくなることなく、オーケストラの勢いを備えている。」. 

13. Ibid., 52. 「彼はただ鍵盤に指を載せさえすればよい、そうすれば柔らかく充実した音が空間に響く。とても柔らかなピアニッシモでは生き生きと、歌うように。活気のあるフォルティッシモでは満 ち足りた心地よい音が。」.

14. Ottmar Schreiber and Ingeborg Schreiber, Rezensionen, Max Reger in seinen Konzerten, Teil 3 (Bonn: Dümmler, 1981), 330.

15. Jon Laukvik and Christopher Anderson, trans., Historical Performance Practice in Organ Playing, Part 2: The Romantic Period (Stuttgart: Carus Verlag, 2010), 258, 289, 304–305. 

16. Email exchanges with Christopher Anderson.

17. Jon Laukvik and Christopher Anderson, trans., Historical Performance Practice in Organ Playing, Part 2: The Romantic Period (Stuttgart: Carus Verlag, 2010), 158.

18. The degree to which a Walze or crescendo shoe can be reconfigured after the installation of the instrument may be variable. But for the purposes of this research project, I am working with the Walze list provided to me by the restorer of the instrument in question.

19. Kouga Higashiyama, “Study of Max Reger’s Performance Style as a ‘Pianist’ by the Analysis of his Concert Reviews コンサートレビューの分析による「ピアニスト」マックス・レーガーの演奏スタイル研究” (DMA diss., Kyoto University of the Arts, 2018), 50–58.



Alain, Olivier, Masayoshi Nagatomi, and Masayoshi Ninomiya. The History of Harmony. Tokyo: Hakusui Publisher, 1969.

Anderson, Christopher. Max Reger and Karl Straube: Perspectives on an Organ Performing Tradition. Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2003.

———, ed. and trans. Selected Writings of Max Reger. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2006.

Busch, Hermann J. “Die Orgelwelt Max Regers.” In Zur Interpretation der Orgelmusik Max Regers, edited by Hermann J. Busch, 6–28. Kassel: Verlag Merseburger Berlin GmbH, 1988.

Cadenbach, Rainer. Max Reger und seine Zeit. Regensburg: Laaber, 1991.

Falkenberg, Hans-Joachim. Der Orgelbauer Wilhelm Sauer, 1831–1916: Leben und Werk. Lauffen: Orgelbau Fachverlag Rensch, 1990.

Hayashi, Tatsuya. New Harmonies. Tokyo: Altes Publishing, 2015.

von Hase-Koehler, Else. Max Reger—Briefe eines deutschen Meisters: Ein Lebensbild des Musikers und Komponisten. Leipzig: Kohler & Amelang, 1928.

Laukvik, Jon. Historical Performance Practice in Organ Playing, Part 2: The Romantic Period. Translated by Christopher Anderson. Stuttgart: Carus Verlag, 2010. 

Piston, Walter, and Mark DeVoto. Harmony. 5th ed. New York: Norton, 1987.

Popp, Susanne, ed. Der junge Reger: Briefe und Dokumente vor 1900. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 2000.

———, ed. Max Reger: Briefe die Verleger Lauterbach & Kuhn, Teil 1. Bonn:
Dümmlers Verlag, 1993.

Reger, Elsa. Mein Leben mit und für Max Reger. Leipzig: Koehler und Amelang Verlag, 1930.

Reger, Max. Beiträge zur Modulations lehre von Max Reger. Frankfurt: C. F.
Kahnt, 1904.

Schreiber, Ingeborg, and Ottmar Schreiber (ed.). Rezensionen: Max Reger in seinen Konzerten, Teil 3. Bonn: Dümmler, 1981.

Stein, Fritz Wilhelm. Max Reger/von Prof. Dr. Fritz Stein. Potsdam: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion, 1939.

Tournemire, Charles. Précis D’éxécution: De Registration Et D’improvisation à L’orgue. Paris: M. Eschig, 1936.

Wünsch, Christoph. Phantasie und Fuge über B-A-C-H für Orgel op. 46 von Max Reger. Motivische, harmonische und formale Disposition Festschrift für Susanne Popp. Reger-Studien No.7. Stuttgart: Carus-Verlag, 2004.


Adams, David. “‘Modern’ Organ Style in Karl Straube’s Reger Editions.” Ph.D. diss., Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 2007.

Anderson, Christopher. “Reger, Straube, and the Leipzig School’s Tradition of Organ Pedagogy, 1898–1948.” Ph. D. diss., Duke University, 1999.

Harrison, Daniel. “A Theory of Harmonic and Motivic Structure for the Music of Max Reger.” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1986.

Higashiyama, Kouga. “Study of Max Reger’s Performance Style as a ‘Pianist’ by the Analysis of his Concert Reviews.” DMA diss., Kyoto University of the Arts, 2018.

Kim, Sung Joo. “Max Reger’s Symphonische Fantasie und Fuge, Op. 57: A Study of Thematic and Harmonic Structure and Issues of Performance Practice.” DMA diss., University of Washington, 2012.

Schaffer, Mark Andrew. “The Use of Variation Principle in the Works of Max Reger.” Ph.D. diss., University of Cincinnati, 1989.

Smith, Jane Ann. “The Relationship of Max Reger’s Beitrage zur Modulationslehre to His Establishment of Tonality in Representative Organ Works.” DMA diss., University of Arizona, 2002.

Journal articles:

Anderson, Christopher. “Max Reger as ‘Master Organist’? What we think and what we know,” RCO Journal 9 (London, United Kingdom: 2015), 18–45. i.rco.org.uk/rco-journal-volume-9-2015.

Bruggaier, Eduard. “Helmut Walcha und Max Regers Orgelmusik: Eine vorsichtige Korrektur.” Ars organi: Internationale Zeitschrift für das Orgelwesen 55, no. 3 (September 2007): 167–179.

Mead, Andrew. “Listening to Reger.” The Musical Quarterly 87, no. 4 (Winter 2004): 681–707.

———. “Cultivating an Air: Natural Imagery and Music Making.” Perspectives of New Music 52, no. 2 (2014): 98–99, doi.org/10.7757/persnewmusi.52.2.0091.


Liszt, Franz. Sämtlich Orgelwerke, Band 2. Edited by Martin Haselböck. Wien: Universal Edition, 1984.

Reger, Max, Alexander Becker, Christopher Grafschmidt, Stefan König, and Stefanie Steiner-Grage. Phantasie und Fuge über B-A-C-H, opus 46. Stuttgart: Carus, 2014.

Reger, Max, Dean Billmeyer, and Christopher Anderson. An Introduction to the Organ Music of Max Reger. Colfax, NC: Wayne Leupold Editions, 2016.

Reger, Max, and Gerard Alphenaar. Fantasia and Fugue On B-A-C-H. New York, NY: Edward B. Marks Music Corp., 1957.

Reger, Max. Choralfantaseien nach der Reger Gesamtausgbe (Hans Klotz) durchgesehen Von Martin Weyer: mit einer Einführung von Hans Haselböck. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1989.

———. Chorwerke a cappella; revised by Hermann Grabner Gruppenleiter. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel,1961.

———. “Fantasie und Fuge über B-A-C-H, opus 46.” Selected organ works. Tokyo: Ongakuno tomo, 1990–1994.

———. Fantasie und Fuge über Den Namen Bach / Fantasia and Fugue On the Name Bach: Opus 46, Organo Solo. Wien: Universal Edition, 1928.

———. Phantasie und Fuge Für Orgel über B-A-C-H, Opus 46: Faksimile des Autographs. Wien: Universal Edition, 1984.

———. Phantasien und Fugen, Variationen, Sonaten, Suiten: I. Edited by Alexander Becker. Stuttgart: Carus-Verlag, 2011.

———. Phantasien und Fugen; Introduction, Variationen und Fuge: op. 73; Introduktion, Passacaglia und Fuge: op. 127. nach der Reger-Gesamtausgbe. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel,1987.

———. Quintett für Klavier, 2 Violinen, Viola und Violoncello, Op. 64. Liepzig: C. F. Peters, 1987.

———. Sämtliche Werke. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1954.

———. Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart, Op. 132. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf und Härtel,1958.

———. Werke für klavier zweihändig. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1957–1965.

———. Zwei Romanzen, Op. 50, für Violien und Kleines Orchester. Munchen: Hoflich, 2000.

———. Zwölf Stücke. Op. 59, nach der Reger-Gesamtausgbe. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1987.

Schumann, Robert. Werke für Orgel oder Pedalklavier. Edited by Gerhard Weinberger. Detmold: G Henle Verlag 1986.

Tournemire, Charles, and Maurice Duruflé. Cinq Improvisations Pour Orgue. Paris: Durand, 1958.

Unpublished Paper (shared by the author):

Mead, Andrew. “Max Reger and the Art of Variation.” Presented at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music, Theory Colloquium, 2017.

Online sources:

Nagley, Judith and Martin Anderson, “Reger, Max.” In Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press, 2001–. Accessed August 10, 2021. doiorg.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.23064.

“Curriculum Vitae,” Max Reger Institut, accessed June 20, 2020. max-reger-institut.de/en/max-reger/curriculum-vitae.

“The Circle of Fifth,” Soundfly, accessed August 10, 2020. flypaper.soundfly.com/write/how-the-circle-of-fifths-can-help-your-songwriting.

“Max Reger Chronology,” Max Reger Institut, accessed August 4, 2021, max-reger-institut.de/media/max-regerchronologie.pdf.

“1884/1995 E. F. Walcker & Cie/Eule Organ,” Organ Art Library, accessed August 10, 2021, organartmedia.com/en/callido/83.html#consoles.

Click here for a recording of Yumiko Tatsuta’s performance of Max Reger’s Phantasie und Fuge über B-A-C-H in Auer Hall.

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