Six Trios op. 47

for organ

  • No. 1 Canon
  • No. 2 Gigue
  • No. 3 Canzonetta
  • No. 4 Scherzo
  • No. 5 Siciliano
  • No. 6 Fuge
Herrn G.G. Bagster hochachtungsvollst zugeeignet.

Performance medium

Work collection
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Original work
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Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. I/5: Orgelstücke I, S. 38–57.
Herausgeber Alexander Becker, Christopher Grafschmidt, Stefan König, Stefanie Steiner-Grage.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlagsnummer: CV 52.805.
Erscheinungsdatum Februar 2014.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2014 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.805.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-14293-3.
ISBN 978-3-89948-206-5.

1. Composition

The future op. 47 was first mentioned in a letter dated 15 January 1900 to 1900 an Gustav Beckmann, to whom Reger had promised a dedication: “[…] at the moment I am occupied with easier organ trios which are too ‘small’ for me to want to dedicate them to you”.1 A good two weeks later, “3 of a small collection (circa 20 printed pages!) of organ trios are already complete […]; 1) Canon, 2) Gigue, 3) Fugue; these pieces are considerably easier; the pedal is of course always obbligato; what does one have ‘legs’ for otherwise?” (Letter dated 2 February 1900 to Beckmann) Here, Reger was possibly describing the sequence of movements at the draft stage (the Fugue finally became no. 6 in the work, the sketch has not survived). On 5 February, Reger wrote the date of completion at the end of the engraver’s copy. The Trios which Reger still listed as his op. 46b at this point, with a view to their companion piece the Fantasia and Fugue on B-A-C-H op. 46(a), were for him “very tame music” (letter dated 27 February 1900 to A.W. Gottschalg) and “more intended for teaching” (letter dated 5 March 1900 to Beckmann).

2. Publication

On 26 April 1900 Reger submitted the Six Trios, together with other works, to the publisher Jos. Aibl for printing. The Trios were listed as op. 48 on the copyright agreement and the royalty statement, both of which Reger signed on 6 May; however, on the copyright agreement an exchange is marked with the Seven Songs, identified as op. 47 to that date. Following the publication of the Six Trios at the beginning of October, Reger recommended them to Karl Wolfrum, the music teacher at the Altdorf Teachers’ Training Institute, amongst others: “I thought of the Trios mainly as teaching material. I would be very much obliged to you if you would be so kind as to use these Trios op. 47 at the Royal Teachers’ Training Institute in the advanced courses for organ teaching.” 2


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

In the same letter Reger mentions for the first time a work similarly laid aside, which only took shape in 1903 as Schule des Triospiels RWV Bach-B8: “Do you know what’s missing! A School of Pedal Playing! (Organ of course). If you want to let me know the various techniques etc. etc., I would write pedal studies; we would already have a publisher! […] Then the studies all in trio form etc; that would be tremendously useful!”
Letter dated 6 October 1900, excerpts published in Meisterbriefe, p. 82. See also the letters dated 18 October to Alexander Wilhelm Gottschalg (“The Trios op 47 are mainly intended for organ teaching; that is why they are so easy.” Meininger Museen, Sammlung Musikgeschichte/Max-Reger-Archiv, shelf number: Br 034/11) and 2 December to Ernst Rabich.

1. Reception

The Six Trios, explicitly described by Reger as “the opposite of this Bach-Fantasia” (op. 46) (letter to A.W. Gottschalg), were to a certain extent treated by the critics as a novelty, and particularly because of the comparative ease with which they could be played in comparison with other works, were greeted with something approaching astonishment: “‘Finally something easy from Reger’; anyone who picks up Op. 47 after the Tower of Babel will breathe a sigh of relief”, declared Friedrich L. Schnackenberg (review). Karl Straube went on to describe the collection: “These are six exemplary pieces of refinement and grace in which even humor, insofar as this is permissible on the organ, is given its due place. […] The melodramatic Max Reger is not to be found here, we almost breathe the air of the Rococo period. Delicate, sweet, when this is required; this music is also droll” (review). Such reviews corresponded very much with Reger’s didactic aims. In the following years, appropriate recommendations were also to be found: for example, in 1906, Roderich von Mojsisovics recommended the use of Opus 47 “in composition teaching as a model of modern, simple performance pieces for the organ” (review) and Otto Burkert included the collection in his Führer durch die Orgelliteratur under exercises of medium difficulty “as an introduction to Reger’s art” (recommendations). Nevertheless Reger, who also promoted his own pieces, certainly had to put up with setbacks, as documented in a letter to Karl Wolfrum: “I readily believe that, amongst your pupils, there is almost nobody who can make use of my Trios. Also, the fact that you are bound by official regulations – as is indeed always the case in state institutions – & until the state introduces a ‘living’ composer into its institutions – that will take a very long time!” (Letter)


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

1. Stemma

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

2. Quellenbewertung

Der Edition liegt als Leitquelle der Erstdruck zugrunde. Als zusätzliche Quelle wurde die autographe Stichvorlage herangezogen.

3. Sources

    Object reference

    Max Reger: Six Trios op. 47, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 13th April 2024.


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