Seven Songs op. 48

for medium voice and piano

  • No. 1 Hütet euch!

    Text: Emanuel Geibel

  • No. 2 Leise Lieder

    Text: Christian Morgenstern

  • No. 3 Im Arm der Liebe

    Text: Otto Erich Hartleben

  • No. 4 Ach, Liebster, in Gedanken…

    Text: Maria Stona

  • No. 5 Junge Ehe

    Text: Hermann Ubell

  • No. 6 Am Dorfsee

    Text: Oskar Wiener

  • No. 7 Unvergessen

    Text: Adolf Frey

Komponiert in Weiden, Januar bis März 1900

Performance medium
Middle voice; Piano

Work collection
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Original work
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Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. II/2: Lieder II, S. 56–73.
Herausgeber Stefan König, Dennis Ried.
Unter Mitarbeit von Alexander Becker, Nikolaos Beer und Christopher Grafschmidt.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlags- und Plattennummer: CV 52.809.
Erscheinungsdatum Oktober 2021.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2021 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.809.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-24652-5.
ISBN 978-3-89948-404-5.

1. Composition

On 12 December 1899, before submitting the Eight Songs op. 43 for publication, Reger to Elsa von Bercken: “For the new songs I have very beautiful texts! But it will be a while before I can compose these, as there is too much to be done first”. (Letter) At the beginning of March 1900 he wrote to the Hamburg critic Emil Krause: “A few songs op. 47 are also ready.” (Letter dated 5 March 1900) According to the dates of completion, these must have included no. 6 Am Dorfsee (29 January) and no. 2 Leise Lieder (28 February) amongst others; the third song with a date of completion, no. 1 Hütet euch!, was completed on 17 March 1900. Ultimately the collection grew to seven songs. The opus contains, amongst other works, Reger’s first setting of a text by Christian Morgenstern (no. 2 Leise Lieder), followed by seven more in the next three collections, as well as a text by Maria Stona (no. 6 Ach, Liebster, in Gedanken …), whose poetry Reger was very enthusiastic about.1

2. Publication

In mid-April Reger concluded a contract for six new works with the publisher Jos. Aibl in Munich: as well as Seven Songs, the Six Intermezzi op. 45 for piano, the Fantasia and Fugue on B-A-C-H op. 46 and Six Trios op. 47 for organ (as opp. 46a and 46b), Twelve German Sacred Songs and Seven Sacred Folksongs for mixed chorus WoO VI/13 and VI/14 as well as Selected Organ Chorale Preludes by Johann Sebastian Bach in arrangements for piano (RWV Bach-B4) were assigned (see letter dated 16 April 1900 to Alexander W. Gottschalg) and submitted for publication on 26 April.2 On 6 May Reger signed the copyright agreement and the confirmation of the overall royalty of 700 marks.

At this point the Eight Songs still had the opus number 47, which was later allocated to the Six Trios (for organ). On the copyright agreement and in the engraver’s copy, the alteration to the opus numbers was carried out later; this possibly only occurred during the proof-reading process.3 On 27 June Reger was still waiting impatiently for the proofs which, as he told the soprano Marie Seyff-Katzmayr, were due to arrive “in the next days”.4 On 22 October he sent a review copy of the first printed edition to Caesar Hochstetter. (see letter) Reger later admitted to his fellow critic Theodor Kroyer in Munich that in his op. 48 “here and there a ‘reminiscence’ of my great earlier dependence on Brahms” could be heard, which he had “overcome” in the Twelve Songs op. 51. (Letter dated 18 April 1901)

As well as Marie Seyff-Katzmayr, to whom no. 2 Leise Lieder was dedicated, Reger also made a dedication to the Karlsruhe Court Theater singer Henriette Mottl-Standthartner, the wife of his future Munich mentor Felix Mottl (no. 1 Hütet euch!). He did not make any other individual dedications in this opus. Instead, four autograph transpositions survive. For Josef Loritz Reger transposed Leise Lieder from D major to C major, and he made three other transpositions (nos. 3 and 7 and a further transposition of no. 2)5 for the American bass-baritone Arthur Henry van Eweyk, to whom he had already dedicated Traum durch die Dämmerung op. 35 no. 3. A few markings in numbers 2 and 3 indicate that these manuscripts were used. But to date, no record of performances of these Reger songs by Eweyk, who was active especially in Berlin from the 1890s onwards, have come to light. Richard Braungart wrote that Eweyk appeared as a performer of Reger: “And by the way, there are already singers today who – particularly when working with the composer himself – master even the most difficult pieces [...] splendidly [...], as evidenced by artists such as Josef Loritz (baritone, Munich), Ludwig Heß (tenor, Berlin), Arthur van Eweyk (baritone, Berlin), and Susanne Dessoir (soprano, Berlin)”6.


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

“All respect to the creative talent of this lady! I place her directly next to the works of Anna Ritter” (Letter dated 16 April 1900 to Ella Kerndl). – Maria Stona was the pseudonym of Marie Scholz (née Stonawski).
Parcel to the value of 300 marks, listed in Bescheinigungsbuch über die von Herrn Reger Weiden an die hiesigen Postanstalten zur Postbeförderung übergebenen einzuschreibenden Briefpostsendungen, Postanweisungen, Geldbriefe und Packetsendungen, 1899–1912, Meininger Museen, Abteilung Musikgeschichte mit Max-Reger-Archiv, Inventarnummer XI-4 3314, fol. 3; see also letter dated 26 April 1900 to Gustav Beckmann.
The alterations on the copyright agreement and the title page of the engraver’s copy were probably made by the publisher. On 27 June Reger spoke to Marie Seyff-Katzmayr about his songs, referring to them as “op. 47” – possibly the change of opus numbers had not yet been completed (letter, last listed and cited in Ingo Nebehay’s antiquarian books catalog, February 1984, no. 253).
Letter, ibid.
Transpositions: no. 2 from D major to C major; no. 3 from D flat major to B flat major; no. 7 from A minor to F sharp minor.
Richard Braungart, “Max Reger als Liederkomponist. Eine Erwiderung”, in Freistatt 4 Jg., no. 29 [ca. 3rd July volume 1902], p. 315f.; here: p. 316.

1. Early reception

As long as Reger still lived in Weiden, he could only call on performers from his close circle to disseminate his songs. For example, Maria Hösl sang the song Traum durch die Dämmerung op. 35 no. 3 in November 1899 in Heidelberg from a manuscript before it was printed. Josef Loritz performed songs including Glückes genug op. 37 no. 3 in December 1900 at a song recital he had organised at the “Bayerischer Hof” in Munich, and elsewhere. Also in 1900, the first reviews of the songs up to op. 43 appeared, which were largely positive. For the critic of the Musikalisches Wochenblatt, Eugen Segnitz, Reger was already “a predestined lieder singer”, who had “the whole gamut of lyrical expressive capabilities” at his disposal. He characterised the song "Frauenhaar" op. 37 no. 4 in the words: “A powerful blaze of passion, an ecstasy of happiness enjoyed, which, constantly resonating in gentle vibrations, never wants to end”. (Review) As preceding citation. The special features of the vocal part were also discussed, which was repeatedly described as “strange”, especially as “even the most distant echoes of familiar melodic expressions” were avoided. (Review from anon. in Neue Musik-Zeitung) The piano part was often seen as an “effective counterpart to the voice” (Ibid.) because of its striking independence, and criticism of its complexity and its recurring structural patterns, which were perceived as monochrome , was also sparked.1

Reger laid the basis for a more lasting reception of his songs after his move to Munich in September 1901. Just a month later he appeared as piano accompanist to Loritz in a song recital in the Museum Room of the Palais Portia. At this, three numbers from his opp. 51 and 55 as well as songs by Anton Beer-Walbrunn and Ludwig Thuille, both professors at the Munich Akademie der Tonkunst, were performed. Numerous other concert performances in the Museum and in the “Bayerischer Hof” Hotel followed. In these, in strategic fashion, he always “confronted” 2 songs by composers of the so-called Munich School (Thuille, Max Schillings, Ernst Boehe etc.), characterized by their restrained modernism, with a small selection of his own new works. In this way he “invited a comparison with his own songs”, particularly since in his choice, he always took care to select “one of the extremely wild, naturalistic” songs, “but also tender mood paintings”.3 At this time Reger acquired the reputation of an excellent, sensitive piano accompanist. As well as Loritz, from 1902 he also worked with singers including the tenors Ludwig Hess and Franz Bergen, and a little later the alto Iduna Walter-Choinanus and soprano Susanne Dessoir. Comparing his songs with contributions by contemporaries, the Munich critics repeatedly emphasized the atypical and contrary generic character of Reger’s works, sometimes relating this to the composer’s personality. Thus a reviewer writing in the Munich Illustriertes Salonblatt found the provocative-confessional setting of Jacobowski’s Der Narr op. 55 no. 5 to be a “clearly revealed construct of the unique nature of this volcanic genius”. (Review of the concert on 7 April 1902 in the “Bayerischer Hof”) Reger had understood the poem to be a general charge against philistines ignorant of art, and included it in his core repertoire as a song accompanist. Referring to the songs Schmied Schmerz and Frühlingsmorgen op. 51 nos. 6 and 11, the critic of the Allgemeinen Zeitung München (probably Theodor Kroyer) spoke of “incredible strange creations” and pointedly summarised: “For the “song rabble” they are of course nothing.” (Review of the concert on 4 January 1902 in the Palais Portia)

From about 1902 onwards the songs Reger had composed in Weiden increasingly featured in detailed collective reviews in music journals. In the Allgemeinen Musik-Zeitung Heinrich Lang noted a development between opp. 51 and 55 towards a less overladen musical language and demonstratively contrasted the complex structures of the first collection (“so much counterpoint, so much harmonic and rhythmic ‘secession’ and such an absurdly difficult piano accompaniment simply does not go with the concept of ‘song’”) with the melodically approachable Viola d’amour op. 55 no. 11 as an ideal (“that is the most deeply-felt language of the soul, that is music, in the words of the most sacred meaning!” (Review). In his article published in Die Gesellschaft, Karl Straube, Reger’s friend and main performer of his organ works, also interpreted the op. 51 songs as the artistic result of “Reger’s difficult German nature” and described the “sensory and supersensory nature of these songs, which find their artistic expression in the harmonic exuberance, now almost stammering, now overflowing and sentimental in the declamation of the melodic lines in wide-ranging melismas”, whereas in op. 55, he now recognized “a healthy naturalness of feeling in contrast with the hyper-symbolism of the earlier songs”. (Ibid.)

How much Reger’s song output polarised the musical public is revealed in the paper “Max Reger als Liederkomponist” by Richard Batka, the music editor of Der Kunstwart, in the periodical Deutsche Gesangskunst. The implicit accusation in some earlier reviews of an artifically forced, mathematically calculated atmosphere is openly voiced in this article, referring to opp. 51 and 55. On Wiegenlied op. 51 no. 3 Batka commented sarcastically: “Is it not dreadful? Will the poor child not be seasick with this ‘quasi vivacissimo’ triplet rhythm, will it not be frightened by these harmonic grimaces, or driven mad by the pained singing of its mother?” As well as this, he declared the vocal part of the song to be the “result of arithmetic”, the “voice by the grace of the piano” and reckoned that “if this kind of composing were to become so fashionable that singers believed they had to go along with it, it would ruin our far-from-ideal state of singing completely.” Batka’s harsh invective attracted the attention of the Munich poet and music writer Richard Braungart, who was known to Reger and was the poet of the song Ein Paar op. 55 no. 9. Braungart criticized Batka’s lack of willingness and ability to countenance new sounds4 and argued in favor of Reger, ultimately with reference to the difference between melodic song and the genre of declamatory song which was influential for Reger: “But with declamatory song, the voice never appears on its own, but always gains life and expressive power in the most intimate connection with the accompaniment (inadequate word!). Thus Reger, like other modern composers, cannot be criticized for this fact; because for them it is the (one could almost say: homophonic) polyphony of the human voice and of the piano part which gives the whole song the full melody, and it is in the inseparable combination of these two factors that the tremendous expressive power of such music lies.” (Ibid.)

After Reger had given concerts with Josef Loritz several times further afield since 1901 (including in Nördlingen, Frankfurt-am-Main, and Krefeld), in February/March 1903 he ventured to organize two purely Reger song recitals with Ludwig Hess in Leipzig (“Hôtel de Prusse”) and Berlin (Beethoven-Saal), followed later by a Reger- Wolf evening with Franz Bergen in Leipzig. The program of the two identical Reger evenings contained a total of 16 songs from opp. 37 to 55 composed in Weiden, as well as the collections opp. 62, 66, 68 and 70 , composed in Munich 5, which covered the entire spectrum of Reger’s song output – from melodic songs such as Glückes genug op. 37 no. 3 and Viola d’amour op. 55 no. 11 to expressive declamatory songs such as Schmied Schmerz op. 51 no. 6 and Wehe! op. 62 no. 1. The Berlin critics in particular regarded the songs as scandalous and an attack on good taste, used the cliché of musical “unnaturalness” 6 almost unanimously, and outbid each other with garish descriptions for the musically repulsive: thus the chronicler of the Staatsbürgerzeitung conjectured that “such shrieking […] such falsetto whimpering can give the listeners bad nerves” (Review from F. Hoyer), Max Marschalk (Vossische Zeitung) spoke of “a difficult affliction” (Review), and the organist and composer Heinrich Reimann, who had written a detailed appreciation of Reger’s first opus in 1893, diagnosed “stylistic violence and monstrosities in pseudo-polyphony” (Review in Das kleine Journal) The few balanced judgements amongst the great ranks of critics, who had to review George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt in the Philharmonie the same evening, and therefore had to go “from Handel to Reger and from Reger back to Handel” in the interval, thereby travelling between different sound worlds7, included the account by Hugo Leichtentritt in the Allgemeinen Musik-Zeitung. Leichtentritt detected “on the one hand the most subtly refined harmony, on the other ruthlessly harsh and violent” and interpreted the avoidance of singable melody not as a deficiency, but as a conscious characteristic: “At any rate it was interesting and instructive for me to note that I did not find this neglect of melody in some songs to be entirely trivial, nor the artistic effect belittling.” (Review)8 In similar fashion, Ernst Günther had also detected a turning point in Reger’s vocal output in his review of the song opuses 35 to 62, beginning with the Eight Songs op. 43, in which “everything simple or folk song-like was stripped away”. On the occasion of Reger’s move to the musical center Munich he finally posed the question: “Will he become more malleable, more approachable, more urbane? I don’t believe so. May he just continue in the tone he struck in op. 55. We must rise to his level, he should not descend to ours”. (“Max Reger als Liedercomponist”, in Neue Zeitschrift für Musik)


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

Karl Nef, for example, wrote in the Schweizerische Musik-Zeitung: “Often the composer cannot get away from an accompanying motif once chosen and hunts it to death.” (Review)
Popp, Werk statt Leben, p. 160.
Susanne Popp, “Der Provokateur – Max Reger und München”, in Facetten II. Kleine Studien – Edition und Interpretation bei Chopin – Die Münchner Schule und Max Reger, ed. Claus Bockmaier, Munich 2016 (= Musikwissen- schaftliche Schriften der Hochschule für Musik und Theater München, Vol. 10), pp. 161–178; here: p. 167.
“An up-and-coming artist such as Reger, however, cannot demand that an official in the office of weights and measures for art in Blasewitz can grasp something which does not fit into the official curriculum of German art primary school, known as “Kunstwart” (Richard Braungart, “Max Reger als Liederkomponist”, in Freistatt).
For information on these, see Vol. II/3 of the RWA (forthcoming).
See Heinrich Reimann in Das kleine Journal, 4 March 1903 and Ernst Eduard Taubert in Die Post, 3 March 1903.
See the account by Paul Zschorlich, written at the fitting reflective distance of almost three weeks, who was the sole person on Reger’s side, and who de- tected the bankruptcy of Berlin music critics: “I would not say it if the individual reviews themselves did not present me with evidence of the critical impotence of the reviewers. Always the same problem.” (Review in Die Zeit. Nationalsoziale Wochenschrift)
Referring to this, writing in 1905 Leichtentritt compared Reger’s (chamber music) melodies as the first with a “very artistic, finely stylised, free prose” (“Max Reger als Kammermusikkomponist”, in Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 72 Jg., no. 44 (25 October 1905), p. 866f.; here: p. 867; cited in Susanne Popp, “Gebundene Lyrik – freie musikalische Prosa in Max Regers Liedern”, in Reger-Studien 10, pp. 49–68; here: p. 68).

1. Stemma

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

2. Quellenbewertung

Der Edition liegt als Leitquelle grundsätzlich der Erstdruck zugrunde. Im Bereich der Vortragsanweisungen wurde jedoch dennoch oftmals den Lesarten der Stichvorlagen der Vorzug gegeben (siehe Zu den editorischen Besonderheiten dieses Bandes). Die auf Basis des Erstdrucks erstellten autographen Transpositionen von Nr. 2 Leise Lieder (2 Manuskripte [Berlin|München]), Nr. 3 Im Arm der Liebe und Nr. 7 Unvergessen (Editionen im Anhang) spielten für die Edition der Originalfassung zumindest in zwei Fällen bei Tonfragen eine Rolle (Nr. 3, 6 sowie T. 7). Für editorische Entscheidungen nicht relevant waren hingegen der Entwurf der Nr. 5 Junge Ehe sowie Josef Regers vom Komponisten autorisierte Bearbeitung für Harmonium der Nr. 4 Ach Liebster, in Gedanken….

3. Sources

  • Entwurf zu Nr. 5
  • Stichvorlagen
  • Erstdruck
  • Autographe Transposition der Nr. 2
  • Autographe Transposition der Nr. 2, 3 und 7
  • Frühe Niederschrift (Max-Reger-Institut)
  • Stichvorlage
  • Erstdruck

Weiterlesen in der RWA

Object reference

Max Reger: Seven Songs op. 48, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 10th December 2022.


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