Three Choruses op. 6

for soprano, alto, tenor, bass and piano

  • No. 1 Trost

    Text: Carl Altmüller

  • No. 2 Zur Nacht

    Text: Franz Engel

  • No. 3 Abendbild

    Text: Nikolaus Lenau

Herrn A. Lindner freundschaftlichst zugeeignet

Performance medium
Soprano; Alto; Tenor; Bass; Piano

Work collection
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Original work
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Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. II/11: Chorwerke mit Klavierbegleitung, S. 2–24.
Herausgeber Christopher Grafschmidt, Claudia Seidl.
Unter Mitarbeit von Knud Breyer und Stefan König.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlags- und Plattennummer: CV 52.818.
Erscheinungsdatum September 2022.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2022 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.818.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-29723-7.
ISBN 978-3-89948-433-5.

1. Composition and Publication

The Three Choruses for four solo voices and piano op. 6 are barely mentioned in Reger’s correspondence. The only meaningful reference is Reger’s announcement to his London publisher George Augener on 1 August 1892: “Tomorrow bright and early I will send you the Choruses op. 6, which your son liked very much […]. Together, the Choruses come to about 25 printed pages” (letter).1 George Augener and his daughter Nellie had spent five weeks at the spa in Wiesbaden from 12 June2 and on this occasion, met not only Hugo Riemann, but also his “favourite pupil” Reger.3 It can be assumed that at the point of the meeting, just the first choral piece had been composed.

The experienced publisher may have recommended the young composer to work in different colors in his engraver’s copies for the sake of clarity.4 Reger used this method, which subsequently became his characteristic procedure, for the first time in the second and third choral pieces: he notated the actual musical text in black ink, and added the performance instructions in red ink. After completing the whole opus he also wrote the individual vocal parts out in black and red (but which were not printed). Reger reported to Augener that Riemann had “carefully read through the choruses several times & approved them”. (Letter dated 1 August 1892) His teacher possibly induced him to revise the concluding section of no. 1 (key change, measure 85ff.). At any rate, in the engraver’s copy Reger replaced the last leaf of no. 1 and now marked the new ending in red ink as well.5 As the proofs of his works were not available before mid-August,6 Reger’s decision to use red ink was not based on bad experiences with music engravers. Ironically, he nevertheless had to add almost all the phrasing slurs in the proofs of op. 6 in the piano part.7

The proof copy was dated 8 November 1892 by the printer, but further stages in the printing process are not documented. The Three Choruses, “most amicably dedicated” to Reger’s earlier teacher Adalbert Lindner, were probably published at the beginning of May 1893 at the latest.8 They remained Reger’s only original composition for this scoring.9 It is not ultimately clear which scoring Reger actually had in mind. The engraver’s copy speaks of “3 chorus[es] of 4 solo voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) with piano accompaniment”, and in his letter to the publisher, Reger talks of “choruses” (which on the other hand corresponds with the title). The only passage possibly intended for two parts (three notes in the bass at the end of no. 1) was altered in the proofs without Reger contradicting this; the work was published by Augener in the series “Vocal Quartets for Soprano, Alto, Tenor & Bass with Pianoforte accompaniment”, but the scoring of earlier performances can only be a matter of speculation.


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

William Augener, director of the publisher’s music engravers, had probably stopped off in Wiesbaden on 30 July 1892 on the way to Bayreuth (see Reger’s letter dated 14 August to George Augener) and “discussed a few details regarding the preparation of my works for print” with Reger (Reger’s letter dated 1 August to George Augener).
In the Wiesbadener Bade-Blatt George and Nellie Augener were registered as residing in the Hotel “Vier Jahreszeiten” on 12, 19, and 26 June, 3 and 10 July 1892 (nos. 163, 170, 177, 184, and 191, Beilage, Alphabetisches Fremden-Verzeichnis [Insert, Alphabetical Visitors’ Register], in, consulted on 9.4.2020). – Reger dedicated the Waltz-Caprices for piano four hands op. 9 to Nellie Augener later that year.
“Mr. George Augener”, interview in The Musical Herald, no. 631, 1 October 1900, pp. 291–294, here: p. 293. See also Georg Behrmann, “Erinnerungen an Max Reger. 1890–1893” and Lindner 1922, p. 93. – Reger probably presented Augener with his two Violin Sonatas opp. 1 and 3, which Augener immediately agreed to publish.
Here, Augener was referring to William Thomas Best, whose edition of the organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach he published. “He [Best] was very careful with his MSS. […]. He wrote his notes in black ink, expression in red, registering in blue, and in every way showed that he was extremely careful.” (“Mr. George Augener”, interview in The Musical Herald, no. 631, 1 October 1900, pp. 291–294, here: p. 293).
Vgl. Zur Ersetzung von fol. 5 in der Stichvorlage der Partitur [for information on replacing fol. 5 in the engraver’s copy of the score]
On 14 August 1892 he made further enquiries of Augener: “What about the proofs of op. 1; I have lots of time for this right now!” (Letter). On 12 September 1892 he expressed his thanks for sending the “2nd proofs of op 3 (letter).
Also like this in the proofs of the Piano Trio op. 2.
They must have been amongst Reger’s first published works which Hugo Riemann sent to his Berlin colleague Heinrich Reimann and which Reimann confirmed he had read through on 17 May (see postcard).
When a Reger festival was planned for 1912 in Bonn, but which ultimately did not take place, Reger thanked one of the initiators, Johannes Joseph Schumacher, for “your suggestion of solo quartets with piano accompaniment […]! I myself have a great fondness for such compositions – it is just the choice of text which is so incredibly hard; & especially –: jolly texts are practically non-existent! It is a shame, a misery! In any case we get such solo quartets with piano accompaniment for first performance” (letter dated 9 August 1911).

1. Reception

The Monthly Musical Record, the house periodical of Augener publishers, impartially noted the “ambitious setting” of the Three Choruses, but found the piano accompaniment “in many places […] to be more of a hindrance than a help to the voices” and asked about the benefit of the pieces: “Cui bono?” (Review) Even around 20 years after the publication of the work, in a review of Reger’s early compositions Herbert Antcliffe found the choruses to be “difficult of effective execution”. On the other hand, Heinrich Reimann declared the work in the Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung (review) to be “completely and utterly Brahmsian in character1, praised its contrapuntal structure and “a Romantic chiaroscuro […], whose effect is admirably emphasized by the accompanying piano”. He paid particular attention to no. 1 Trost, especially to “the effect of the C major: “in ihres Mantels Falten trägt Gottes Lieb die Welt [Love bears the world benignly, safe in her mantle’s fold]”. The idea of the Brahms Rhapsody is pretty obvious; only here, too, the composer should have omitted the quarter note rest (in the 5th bar) and continued with the upbeat. At least I cannot get rid of the feeling of the melody being broken up by gaps here either!”2 Ultimately, like his English colleagues, he stated: “The demands which M. Reger places on the performers in technical terms are quite significant in the choral songs.” This assessment was confirmed at one of the rare performances of Trost by the Barmer Lehrer-Gesangverein on 28 February 1907: “[…] the melodic expression is somewhat austere, the part-writing peculiar and not easy for the singers” (review).


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

Adalbert Lindner reported that Reger had been inspired to compose this work “by Brahms’s “German Folk Songs”” (Lindner 1922, p. 80). It is also conceivable that Brahms’s Quartets op. 92, which take a similar approach in terms of choice of texts (O schöne Nacht!, Spätherbst, Abendlied, Warum? compared with Trost, Zur Nacht, Abendbild), played a role in the composition of op. 6.
Reimann’s suggestion regarding Reger refers to the last section measure 85ff. and the rest in measure 89 (subsequently: “trägt Gottes Lieb” [carries God’s love]). In the Alto Rhapsody op. 53, Brahms also changes from C minor to C major in measure 116 and begins the 5th measure (“ein Ton [one note]”) after a quarter note rest with a full measure.

1. Stemma

Die in Klammern gesetzte Quelle ist verschollen.
Die in Klammern gesetzte Quelle ist verschollen.

2. Quellenbewertung

Der Edition liegt als Leitquelle der Erstdruck zugrunde, der aus verlagspolitischen Gründen mit englischen Übersetzungen erschien. Als zusätzliche Quellen wurden die autographe Stichvorlage der Partitur und deren Korrekturabzug sowie die Stichvorlage der letztlich ungedruckt gebliebenen Singstimmen herangezogen.

Ein grundsätzliches Problem bildet die Ebene der Vortragszeichen. Trotz der Verwendung von roter Tinte (zumindest ab dem letzten Blatt der Stichvorlage der Partitur, siehe Zur Ersetzung von fol. 5) scheinen die Stecher aufgrund der Enge des Notentexts und der stellenweise uneindeutigen Zuordnung der Zeichen überfordert gewesen zu sein – nahezu sämtliche Phrasierungsbögen sowie zahlreiche Crescendo-/Decrescendo-Gabeln musste Reger im Korrekturabzug ergänzen. Er änderte aber auch einige Stellen hinsichtlich der Phrasierung (Klavier) oder des dynamischen Verlaufs durch eine nicht immer nachvollziehbare Modifizierung oder Auslassung der Vorgaben in der Stichvorlage, die in dieser Beziehung, trotz gelegentlichen Überbordens, weitgehend konsistent wirkt, während der auf Regers Korrekturen fußende Erstdruck eher lückenhaft erscheint.

Die Stichvorlage der Singstimmen kann u.a. für die Vortragsangaben aufschlussreich sein. Da hier nicht wie in der Stichvorlage der Partitur andere Stimmen die räumliche Disposition der Noten beeinflussen, kann jedoch insbesondere die Ausdehnung der Crescendo-/Decrescendo-Gabeln abweichen. Darüber hinaus repräsentiert sie möglicherweise von Takt 92 bis 108 (siehe Zur Ersetzung von fol. 5) einen stellenweise älteren Stand.

Im Erstdruck ist die Interpunktion im deutschen Liedtext aufgrund des Primats der englischen Übersetzung ausgesprochen mangelhaft, die Stichvorlage der Partitur ist diesbezüglich jedoch auch nicht konsequent.

3. Sources

  • Stichvorlagen
  • Korrekturabzug
  • Erstdruck

Weiterlesen in der RWA

Object reference

Max Reger: Three Choruses op. 6, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 10th December 2022.


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