About the Edition

The new edition of the songs and choral works takes into account Reger’s working methods as well as the sources available for each work. An evaluation of the sources has resulted in the editorial approach adopted (see Editorial Guidelines).

1. Reger's working methods

As revealed by music manuscripts and letters, as well as accounts by contemporaries, in the written conception and completion of his works, Reger adopted a recurring, economical work scheme, regardless of genre and scoring.

1.1. Text search

Reger was constantly on the lookout for texts which he could set in his vocal compositions, and also involved friends and advisers such as Karl Straube and Fritz and Margarete Stein in this search. He drew texts from volumes of poetry, anthologies, and periodicals, as well as from songs by other composers; he was in contact with several contemporary poets and was often sent un- published poems in manuscript form. When he himself found a poem in a journal, he often bought the corresponding volume of poetry which he then used as a source.

1.2. Sketch

The written working process usually began, irrespective of the genre, with a sketch notated in pencil. This Verlaufsskizze (continuity sketch), usually beginning at the first measure, largely tallies with the ensuing Niederschrift (fully written out version, = fair copy), but without the contents already being worked out down to the last detail. Relatively exact, developed passages in the sketches stand opposite to virtually empty measures which simply set out the proportions of the work. Large sections are notated in a kind of shorthand which, although it can indeed often be deciphered by proceeding backwards from the completed work itself, are scarcely any help in reaching editorial decisions; for example, accidentals are often missing and subsidiary parts are at best only indicated in outline.

1.3. Fair copy

This sketch was followed without further intermediate stages by the fair copy, which was worked up in several stages and served as the engraver’s copy.1

a. black layer
Reger wrote out the actual musical text in black ink. Alongside the musical text, he made corrections and alterations as far as space allowed; these now obsolete passages were initially only crossed out (or dabbed off while the ink was still wet) and only made neat at a later stage by scratching them away. Occasionally he also marked passages to be altered in order to enter the new material after erasure.

b. red layer
The working out of the musical text in black was followed by entering the performance instructions in red ink. Reger quite often began doing this before the work was fully written out; several stages of writing out the music as well as the stages of corrections could therefore overlap. Instructions for the engraver relating to the presentation of the edition were made in black or red ink, without being able to establish the precise point in the working process when these were made with any certainty.
The date of completion is often not the date of the completion of the whole composition, but simply of one stage. With songs in particular, even where a collection was intended, the songs were often written singly and with gaps of time in between. Reger often composed these in parallel with larger works.

Generally just a single fair copy was made. In a few cases Reger prepared further fair copies; with songs, for example, these might be dedication or performance copies or fair copies in connection with separate publications as inserts in periodicals.

c. title page
Only after completion of the various stages of composition did Reger usually write out a title page; for this purpose he added a cover sheet or folded the last page of a quire to the front of the bundle. Reger mainly wrote out songs or choral works in separate manuscripts (often individual double folios), which he put together as a collection with a common cover sheet.

1.4. Proofs

For most of the works there is evidence, for example from letters, that Reger himself read the proofs before the work was sent to print. From the few surviving proofs it emerges that he did this with great thoroughness, at least with regard to the music and the performance instructions. Alterations were also possible during this phase and by no means unusual. Reger’s reworkings were aimed in most cases at greater differentiatied texture of the parts, a more workable phrasing and articulation or even just clearer musical layout.

1.5. First edition

The first edition represented the end point of this composing process.

1.6. Transpositions

Reger produced transpositions of some of his songs on the basis of the first prints, which were conceived to meet the needs of certain interpreters and served as manuscripts for use in performances or rehearsals.

2. History of the sources

Basically, for Reger the following types of source survive for each work in every genre:

  • a sketch
  • a fair copy (engraver’s copy)
  • one or more sets of proofs
  • the first edition

There may also be further sources such as copies and transpositions for performers, versions for other instrumentations and comments about mistakes (e.g. errata notices).

These different types of sources have survived in quite different ways: sketches for the early works only rarely survived,2 fair copies, nevertheless, survive for the vast majority of works, but proofs only in exceptional cases,3 and first editions have survived for almost all works.

3. Evaluation of the sources

The main sources are the autograph music manuscripts, sets of proofs, and the first edition edited by Reger. In each case these are compared with each other and are described in the Kritischer Bericht with regard to their make up and special features. Reger’s notes about misprints (for example, in letters and on errata notices) will be taken into consideration in preparing the edition. In making editorial decisions, versions for other scorings remain of secondary importance because of the different stylistic idiom or adjustments for particular vocal ranges; they will be referred to in particular in questions of pitch. Where Reger’s sources do not survive but their contents are known through copies or similar means, material in other hands will be referred to as a substitute.

Reger regarded the latest form of the work in each case in the working process described above as the organic further development and refinement of what preceded it.4 Therefore, the authorized first printed edition which resulted at the end of this process served basically with the greatest weight as the primary source for the music text of the RWA. With regard to some parameters that Reger may have been less aware of during the correction process, however, the engravers copy has a greater editorial weight.(See editorischen Besonderheiten von Bd. II/2) As regards vocal texts, the engraver’s copy was generally given preference, as evident engraving mistakes which remained in the first edition, and even affected the title amongst other things, indicate that when proof-reading, Reger concentrated on the musical text. This also applies to works which were issued in succession in different forms of publication, such as firstly in a periodical and later in an anthology compiled by Reger.5 Where there are differences with the manuscript sources (or even with earlier printed editions), the different variants have been checked for plausibility and validity. If the divergences in the final version of the first edition were not conscious alterations on Reger’s part, but mistakes which have remained undiscovered or mistaken interpretations by the engraver,6 a reading has been taken from the manuscripts or an early printed edition. In problematic cases, the variants have been described in a footnote.

4. Divergences in the RWA from the primary source

Where the RWA diverges from the primary source, this is recorded in the Lesartenverzeichnis of the Kritischer Bericht; this is included in full on RWA online, whereas the printed volume concentrates on passages which relate to the tonal shape of the work. In the printed musical text the following alterations are indicated by diacritical markings (or by a comment), if they are not substantiated by another source:

correction of incorrect notes
in square brackets
addition of missing notes
in square brackets
addition of necessary accidentals
in square brackets
addition of missing dynamic indications or registration instructions
in square brackets
addition of missing articulation marks
in square brackets
addition of missing ties
in square brackets
addition of missing slurs
dashed lines
addition of cautionary accidentals
in small type
addition of missing words
in square brackets
replacement of words wrongly set
with a comment

Significant divergences between the sources, and passages which could not be clarified editorially are indicated in the printed volume with footnotes. Reger’s indications for performers in the first edition are included as verbatim citations in footnotes.

Occasionally Reger used round or square brackets in the musical text, for example, for additional or alternative indications (especially cautionary accidentals); these have been standardized as round brackets. Cautionary accidentals, which Reger himself often used liberally, have been added by the editors for clarification; for example, if the note in question has been altered in the preceding measure, in an adjacent stave or in another part (if necessary also in another octave). When alterations to tied notes occur over a line break, these are also indicated in the new line; a subsequent alteration requires a corresponding accidental.7

In the edition, in the vocal texts, spellings of individual words typical for the time have been retained according to the source material, as far as they exist in the relevant dictionaries from this period. Reger’s variable orthographic pecularities have been standardized and considerably modernized by the placing of apostrophes, punctuation, the use of ss-/ß, word splits, and capitalization and lower case.8 Simple corrections to the text (orthography, inflection, punctuation, etc.) are made without any diacritical marking. In cases relating to the understanding of the text, these are listed in the Lesartenverzeichnis.

The score layout in the choral works has not been standardized, but the layout of, for example, four-part settings on four or two staves replicates that of the original music image. However, in the case of choral settings with repeated verses, Reger’s sources contain very varied and different individual layouts which often owe something to the circumstances of their publication. Sometimes the relation of text and dynamics to the notes is unclear in the layout, such as when the verses and the different performance instructions associated with them are added continuously to individual parts (verse 1 for soprano, verse 2 for alto, etc.)

In the RWA Reger’s different ways of indicating these are carefully brought into line with each other and to a certain extent standardized for clarity. In the process the legibility of the score, rather than singability, is given priority. Adapting the solutions found in the RWA for use in choral material must remain the task of practical single editions. With the presentation of chorale editions the repetitions of stanzas (Stollen) are uniformly dispensed with; these interventions have been indicated in the musical text by a double bar before the concluding verses. However, the musical text which is to be repeated where there are several verses has been written out twice only in exceptional cases.9

In the chorale cantatas, in some verses those parts with rests are omitted; additional instruments are notated on separate staves (unlike the notation found in the sources).

Any further standardization of the notation has been avoided. Interventions in Reger’s notation have therefore only been made if, in the opinion of the editors, the substance and understanding of the work is unaffected by this, and the alteration results in an improvement for the user. Such editorial decisions of purely orthographic significance are listed in the digital Lesartenverzeichnis.

In individual cases, parts of earlier or later stages of work have been separately edited and included on RWA online as a printable PDF. In this volume this applies to Unter der Erde WoO VII/6 and Bettlerliebe WoO VII/8, as well as Vergangen, versunken, verklungen (fragment of a deleted song from Opus 23).

A special case in this volume are the transpositions of songs from opp. 43, 48, 51 and 55 made by Reger for individual performers, which are included as an Appendix in the printed volume..(see Zur Edition der Transpositionen)

A special case in the present volume is the first version of the Compositions op. 79f nos. 8–10, 12–13; these are included as an Appendix in the printed volume.10

A special case in this volume is the incomplete Chorale cantata “Auferstanden, auferstanden” WoO V/4 no. 5. An edition of this has been included as an Appendix in the printed volume.11

Information on the provenance and date of the choral and folk song texts and melodies is given in the relevant title headings.12 In a few cases it was possible to verify or update particular details in Reger’s first printed editions from more recent research findings,13 and in other cases it was not possible to specify details or check their reliability any further.14

A special case in the present volume is the first version of the Compositions op. 79f nos. 8–10, 12–13; these are included as an Appendix in the printed volume.15


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

This does not apply to the early works without opus number, which were not ntended for publication.
For the organ works from op. 40 no. 2, for the songs, beginning with op. 43, for the choral works from op. 61a.
For the organ works of opp. 60 and 135b, for the songs of opp. 8, 14, 14b, 15 and 142, for the choral works of opp. 6 and 138, and 144
Thus, when Reger sent the proofs of op. 95 to his publisher, he stressed: “But I request that the mistakes be corrected with the greatest care!! For the final printing of the score and parts, the manuscript is no longer valid, but the proofs […], which I have corrected!” (Reger’s postcard dated 18 July 1906 to Lauterbach & Kuhn, in Lauterbach & Kuhn-Briefe 2, p. 161).
With the songs and choral works this applies to opp. 79c, f and g.
For information on the pecularities of Reger’s handwriting, which can lead to misinterpretations from time to time, see the article Schreibgewohnheiten und -eigentümlichkeiten.
Reger’s notation is not consistent in this respect: sometimes cautionary accidentals from ties apply as an alteration to the whole measure (see examples).
The current version of Duden, valid on the publishing date of the respective volume, serves as a basis for normalisation and modernisation. while for texts in Latin the Graduale Romanum or the Graduale Triplex (Solemnes 1974 and 1979 respectively) are the reference.
In WoO VI/14 no. 3 and no. 4 because of the wealth of information with six or five verses, each with different dynamics, and in op. 79f no. 11 because of the different division of the text between the voices.
RWA online also contains the fragmentary choral fugue Lob, Preis und Ehr WoO VI/1 from Reger’s studies with Hugo Riemann as well as an alternative variant reading of the ending of the Wiegenlied der Hirten an der Krippe zu Bethlehem WoO VI/14 no. 7 (as PDF appendix).
RWA online also contains as a facsimile the Tantum ergo in E flat major WoO V/3 which was handed down by Adalbert Lindner and only survives in fragmentary form.
Dates in brackets relate to surviving printed sources (e.g. in folk song collections or hymn books). For further information, see the Text(e) sections (and Texte und Melodien respectively) in the Kritischer Bericht.
This is especially the case with the chorale texts and melodies, which are found in the Evangelisches Gesangbuch (1st edition between 1993 and 1996) and are correspondingly well documented (see the series Liederkunde zum Evangelischen Gesangbuch, Göttingen 2000f. [= Handbuch zum Evangelischen Gesangbuch, vol. 3], 24 volumes of which were published by 2017, and Karl Christian Thust, Die Lieder des Evangelischen Gesangbuchs. Kommentar zu Entstehung, Text und Musik, 2 vols., Kassel et al 2012 and 2015).
This applies above all to the folk songs, the provenance of many of which is still unknown.
The DVD of the volume also contains the fragmentary choral fugue Lob, Preis und Ehr WoO VI/1 from Reger’s studies with Hugo Riemann as well as an alternative variant reading of the ending of the Wiegenlied der Hirten an der Krippe zu Bethlehem WoO VI/14 no. 7 (as PDF appendix).

About the Edition, in: Reger-Werkausgabe, www.reger-werkausgabe.de/editorial.html, last check: 20th May 2022.


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