Three Choruses op. 39

for six-part mixed voice unaccompanied choir

Content
Creation
Komponiert in Weiden, zweite Oktoberhälfte 1899
Status
Dedication

Performance medium
Soprano; Alto 1; Alto 2; Tenor; Bass 1; Bass 2

Work collection
  • -
Original work
  • -
Versions
  • -

1.

Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. II/8: Werke für gemischten Chor a cappella I, S. 44–61.
Herausgeber Alexander Becker, Christopher Grafschmidt, Stefan König, Stefanie Steiner-Grage.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlagsnummer: CV 52.815.
Erscheinungsdatum Juni 2018.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2018 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.815.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-18831-3.
ISBN 978-3-89948-302-4.

No. 1


Category
Text template
First edition

Template edition

Copy shown in RWA: DE, Karlsruhe, Max-Reger-Institut/Elsa-Reger-Stiftung.

Note: Die vier Jahrgänge der Sonnenblumen – eine bibliophile Loseblatt-Sammlung mit Bildschmuck von Fidus – waren in Besitz Regers. Im Oktober 1899  äußerte er gegenüber Josef Hösl, es fänden sich “schöne Sachen darin, die direkt zum Komponieren reizen” (Brief vom 24. Oktober 1899). Regers Exemplar des vierten Jahrgangs ist in den Meininger Museen/Max-Reger-Archiv erhalten. Mit Bleistift sind einige Gedichte zur Vertonung angestrichen, darunter Wenn lichter Mondenschein…, Helle Nacht und Hütet Euch!. In Helle Nacht ist in der 2. Strophe das Wort “weint” unterstrichen und übermalt, die dritte Strophe ist ausgestrichen und wurde von Reger auch nicht vertont. In Hütet Euch! ist zudem das Wort “Eros” (Strophe 3) unterstrichen.


Annotations

Note: Reger wurde durch die Gedichtanthologie Sonnenblumen – von Karl Henckell als bibliophile Lose-Blatt-Sammlung in vier Jahrgängen herausgegeben – unter anderem auf Falke aufmerksam. Er kaufte sich in der Folge dessen Gedichtbände Tanz und Andacht, Zwischen zwei Nächten und Mit dem Leben, aus denen er jeweils mehrere Texte vertonte.


No. 2


Category
Text template
First edition
unknown

Template edition

Used for comparison purposes in RWA: August Heinrich Plinke: Abendlied, in: Indiana Tribüne, 23. Jg. (), issue 69, , p. 2.

Copy shown in RWA: DE, Karlsruhe, Max-Reger-Institut/Elsa-Reger-Stiftung.


Annotations

Note: Vorlage unbekannt (möglicherweise eine Zeitschrift). Da eine Buchausgabe nicht nachweisbar ist, wurde für die RWA ein zeitnah zu Regers Komposition erfolgter Abdruck des Gedichts in der deutschsprachigen Indiana Tribüne (23. Jg., Heft 69 [26. November 1899], S. 2 ) zu Vergleichszwecken herangezogen; interessanterweise erschien die identische Seite auch wenige Tage später im Scranton Wochenblatt (30. November 1899, S. 2).

Note: Bei dem Textdichter handelt es sich höchstwahrscheinlich um den Kunstmaler und Journalisten August Heinrich Plinke (1855–1915).


No. 3


Category
Text template
First edition

Template edition

Copy shown in RWA: DE, Karlsruhe, Max-Reger-Institut/Elsa-Reger-Stiftung.


Annotations

Note: Vorlage unbekannt. Eventuell verwendete Reger für seine Lenau-Vertonungen eine der zahlreichen späteren Auflagen. Für die RWA zu Vergleichszwecken herangezogen wurde die (nicht gezählte) Auflage aus dem Jahr 1874. Vgl. auch Nikolaus Lenau, Werke und Briefe, Historisch-kritische Gesamtausgabe, hrsg. im Auftrag der Internationalen Lenau-Gesellschaft von Helmut Brandt u. a., Bd. 1: Gedichte bis 1834, hrsg. von Herbert Zeman und Michael Ritter in Zusammenarbeit mit Wolfgang Neuber und Xavier Vicat, Wien 1995, S. 315 (Titel: “Frühlingsblicke”). – Die Ausgabe von 1874 unterscheidet sich gegenüber dieser Gesamtausgabe auf Wortebene in zwei Fällen: “dunkeln” statt “dunklen” (Strophe 1) sowie “ein süßes Hoffen” statt “sein süßes Hoffen” (Strophe 4).


1. Composition

On 13 October 1899, whilst writing to the Wiesbaden journalist Caesar Hochstetter about the completion of the Seven male voice choruses op. 38, Reger mentioned some “new choruses (5–8 part)” for the first time, which he was currently “working on” (letter). Subsequently a collection for six-part mixed voice choir with two alto and two bass parts crystallised, and he told Georg Göhler about their completion on 25 October: “Now I have written a few (4) choruses for 6-part mixed voice choir; the choruses are each 6–7 pages of score long & I humbly ask you whether I might not dedicate one of these choruses to the Riedelverein & to you as its most esteemed conductor.” (Letter) Göhler accepted this offer of dedication, and three days later Reger sent the manuscripts of just three of the choruses to him which later served as the engraver’s copies. Whether the fourth chorus had already been composed and rejected, or whether it only existed in draft is not known.1 In the covering letter with the manuscript Reger asked that, “you be so kind as to look through & to select which chorus I might dedicate to the Riedelverein”. Furthermore he explained: Sacred pieces they are not however; but I believe I may hope that the chosen texts will meet with your approval. It is peaceful, tranquil music […]. As I unfortunately have no copies of the scores (there is no copyist here) I must ask you to send back the three scores to me again, so that I can send them to print. I then still have to write out the parts!” (Letter dated 28 October)

Towards the end of November 1899 the publisher Jos. Aibl decided to purchase the choruses,2 whereupon Reger asked Georg Göhler “to send back the 3 scores to me as soon as possible, as “the choruses should now be sent to print as soon as possible (postcard). On 1 December Reger received the manuscripts back from Göhler, who had chosen the chorus Schweigen to a text by Gustav Falke for the dedication. By this point at the latest, the order of the choruses was fixed, indeed he referred in his response of the same day to “No 1” (see letter). On 8 December he was involved in “looking carefully through opp. 38–42” (postcard to Alexander W. Gottschalg).

–––––––––––––––––
Composition · Publication · Early reception

2. Publication

On 15 December 1899 Reger finally sent the Three Choruses to Aibl, together with opp. 38, 40 nos. 1 and 2, and 41–44.3 When submitting the works, the engraver’s copies of the two choral works still bore the opus numbers 38a and 38b.4 On the common copyright agreement and on the royalty receipt which Reger signed on 17 December, all the works were listed under their correct opus numbers now used today.5 On 4 February 1900, according to Reger’s information, the choruses were still “being engraved” (postcard to Georg Göhler); on 6 April he declared that he had “already dealt with!” the proofs of opp. 39–44, “so that the things must come soon!” (Letter to Emil Krause) A little over two weeks later, on 23 April, he was able to send the first gratis copies of the “3 choruses op 39 just published” to Göhler as well as to the critic Emil Krause. (Letter to Krause)6

–––––––––––––––––
Composition · Publication · Early reception

3.

Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.


1
Reger’s letters about completing works often only refer to the completed draft stage. When referring to the length, Reger was probably thinking of the anticipated number of printed pages and underestimated here: the Three choruses comprised eight, nine, and ten pages in the first printed edition.
2
On 20 November Reger still hoped to “have sold the manuscripts [of the future opp. 38 to 44] soon likewise, to Herr Aubl [sic: Aibl], publisher in Munich” (letter to Theodor Helm); on 1 December he was able to announce these as forthcoming new publications to the reviewer Alexander Wilhelm Gottschalg (letter).
3
Registered parcel over 300 Marks, listed in Postbuch 1, fol. 2. – By contrast with the writings of 4 December to Caesar Hochstetter and 8 December to Gottschalg the piano pieces Opus 44 were now included, as shown by the copyright agreement.
4
In both the manuscripts the numbering was corrected in pencil by the editorial department (as also with opp. 41, 43, and 44, whilst the corresponding alteration in op. 42 was made by Reger himself).
5
Reger wrote to Georg Göhler accordingly on 21 December: “The choruses (Schweigen dedicated to you) are being published as op 39 by Aibl.” (Postcard)
6
See also letter from the same day to Georg Göhler. – The copy of the first volume signed by Reger, which he sent to Göhler, is held in the Max-Reger-Institut.

1. Reception

Reger, who had no mixed voice choir capable of concert performance available to him in his home town of Weiden, was well aware that the Three choruses placed high demands on the performers, both in vocal-technical terms and artistically. He sent out his gratis copies of the first printed editions in April 1900, all with the indication that the pieces were “very difficult”, but that “the musical content is such that it is probably worthwhile our choral societies singing these choruses” (Brief vom 23. April an Emil Krause)1. Moreover, in terms of the politics of dedication, he was aiming directly at particularly capable ensembles with a national reputation, but which still had the status of amateur choirs (there were not yet any true professional choirs outside the opera houses around 1900): as well as the Riedelverein in Leipzig conducted by Georg Göhler, he also dedicated one of the works to the Philharmonischer Chor Berlin and its conductor Siegfried Ochs (no. 2 Abendlied).2 The Kotzolt’scher Gesangverein, based in Berlin too, and its conductor Leo Zellner were the dedicatees of a second work within a short period with Frühlingsblick (no. 3); this followed on from the Eight selected folk songs WoO VI/11.

In den Rezensionen machte die Feststellung des Unsanglichen und wenig Fasslichen bald die Runde. Der Kritiker der Neuen Musik-Zeitung sprach dabei noch vergleichsweise neutral von einer “kunstreichen Stimmenverflechtung”, bei der “die melodischen Schritte durchaus auf neuen Pfaden sich bewegen, die harmonischen Wendungen oft ganz unberechenbar und verblüffend auftreten und der Komponist ja allem, was „leicht ins Ohr fällt“, prinzipiell aus dem Wege geht”. In der Neuen Zeitschrift für Musik war dann der direkte Vorwurf zu lesen: “Von natürlicher, gesunder Melodiebildung ist nichts zu spüren, aber Reihen von halben Tönen und eine Unmasse von chromatischen Zeichen sind vorhanden, ebenso viele verminderte Quarten- und übermäßige Sekundenschritte, überhaupt solche Intervalle, die dem Sänger möglichst große Treffschwierigkeiten verursachen.” Die Rezension des Konservatoriumsprofessors Emil Krause, der im Hamburger Fremden-Blatt geschrieben hatte, in Opus 39 würde “die Liebe zur Arbeit in den Vordergrund” treten, nötigte Reger dazu, Anfang Juni eine Klarstellung an den Autoren zu adressieren: “Ich versichere Sie aber, daß in op. 39 nicht Liebe zur Arbeit mich leitete, sondern Liebe zum Text und die Pflicht, diesen schönen Texten ein schönes musikalisches Gewand zu verleihen! Glauben Sie mir, ein Einfall ist mir lieber als 100 000 Tonnen musikalische Arbeit! Außerdem fällt mir alle Polyphonie so leicht, daß ich da nicht zu arbeiten brauche!” Rund einen Monat später legte er nochmals nach: “Wenn Sie vielleicht glauben, daß ich „blindlings“ drauflos komponiere, so täuschen Sie sich; ich bin mir meiner künstlerischen Ziele sehr wohl und äußerst klar bewußt u. ist es absolut kein Herumtappen im Nebel!” In the reviews, comments that they were unsingable and difficult to comprehend soon did the rounds. The critic of the Neue Musik-Zeitung wrote comparatively neutrally of an “elaborate interconnection of parts”, in which “the melodic steps definitely break new ground, the harmonic turns are often completely unpredictable and appear astounding, and the composer indeed avoids everything which is ‘pleasing to the ear’ on principle” (review). The Neue Zeitschrift für Musik contained the direct accusation: “There is no trace of natural, healthy melodic structure, but rows of semitones and a mass of chromatic signs are present, likewise many diminished fourth and augmented second steps, in general such intervals as cause the singer the greatest possible difficulties in singing them accurately.” (Review by B. Frenzel) Reger felt compelled to respond to a review by the Conservatoire professor Emil Krause, who wrote in the Hamburger Fremden-Blatt, that in Opus 39 “the love of work was to the fore” (review), addressing a clarification to the author at the beginning of June 1900: “I assure you, however, that in op. 39 it is not love of work which directs me, but love of the text and the duty to give these beautiful texts a beautiful musical form! Believe you me, one idea is dearer to me than 100 000 tons of musical work! Anyway, counterpoint comes to me so easily that I do not need to work at it!” (Postcard dated 5 June 1900) About a month later he went further: “If you perhaps believe that I compose ‘blindly’ on, then you are mistaken; I am well aware of my artistic aims and extremely clear about them & there is absolutely no groping about in the dark!” (Letter dated 4 July 1900)3

However, very few choral societies seem to have attempted Opus 39. At least the Riedelverein, over whom Reger had taken so much trouble, passed over the new work as it did with Reger’s choral music in general.4 Reger did, however, receive a response from the Bielefeld music director Wilhelm Lamping, to whom he replied on 4 July 1900: “I am exceptionally pleased that you are going to sing the Abendlied from op 39, it is difficult, but I think it must have a great effect. […] I am soon going to join the Musikverein; but whether they will perform my compositions, I do not know! For the time being they seem to be ‘acting as if I was not there’ as usual! I thought of you precisely because of op 39, especially after people ‘groaned’ so much about the ‘difficulty’ of this opus! It would be ‘huge fun’ for me if the premiere of op. 39 were to take place under you.” (Letter) However, the chorus was only performed by Lamping’s society in February 1906.5

–––––––––––––––––
Composition · Publication · Early reception

2.

Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.


1
See also the letter to Georg Göhler from the same day (see note 46) and the letters of 26 April to the reviewer and organist Gustav Beckmann in Essen and to Wilhelm Lamping in Bielefeld, who was sent complimentary copies as a choral director: “Op. 39 is very difficult; only such a famous, trained society such as yours will be able to overcome these difficulties easily!” (Letter).
2
The Philharmonische Chor, which still exists, gave the first performance in Berlin in 1910 of Psalm 100 op. 106. – Ochs published a four-volume handbook Der deutsche Gesangverein between 1923–28 (Max Hesses Verlag, Berlin); in the 1st volume of this he explored topics including the “Frage des Rein-singens” (question of singing in tune), “a highly intricate problem with regard to Reger’s music” (Thomas Seedorf, “Chorkompositionen mit höchstem Anspruch”, in the program book of the 1st Max-Reger-Tage Essen, 9–14 May 1993, in collaboration with the Max-Reger-Institut Bonn and the Hohe Domkirche Essen ed. Wolf-Dieter Hauschild, Essen 1993, p. 33), something which was also frequently referred to in reviews (see, for example, WoO VI/13 and 14 and Opus 61).
3
The relationship between composer and critic was troubled following this difference of opinions, and Reger decided against dedicating his Clarinet Sonata in A flat major op. 49 no. 1, composed during the same period, to Krause which he had already told Krause of.
4
In the performance chronicle of the society for 1904 (Karl Albert Göhler, Der Riedel-Verein zu Leipzig. Eine Denkschrift zur Feier seines fünfzigjährigen Bestehens, Leipzig 1904, pp. 138–152) no work by Reger is listed. Reger’s announcement of November 1899, “Dr. Göhler, conductor of the universally known ‘Riedelverein’ in Leipzig, is taking up a huge number of my things there”, may have been wishful thinking (letter dated c. 12. November 1899 to Josef Hösl, in the Mülheimer Zeitung of 10 May 1936).
5
See Bielefelder Musik-Verein. Lamping-Jubiläum 1886–1911, Festschrift, ed. by the committee, [Bielefeld 1911], p. 38.

1. Stemma

Die in Klammern gesetzten Quellen sind verschollen.
Die in Klammern gesetzten Quellen sind verschollen.

2. Quellenbewertung

Der Edition liegt als Leitquelle die Erstdruck-Partitur zugrunde. Insbesondere hinsichtlich der Platzierung der Dynamikangaben ist an etlichen Stellen auch auf die handschriftlichen Quellen zurückgegriffen.

3. Sources

  • Stichvorlage Partitur und Stimmen
  • Erstdruck Partitur und Stimmen
Object reference

Max Reger: Three Choruses op. 39, in: Reger-Werkausgabe, www.reger-werkausgabe.de/mri_work_00040.html, last check: 18th May 2024.

Information

This is an object entry from the RWA encyclopaedia. Links and references to other objects within the encyclopaedia are currently not all active. These will be successively activated.