Twelve Pieces op. 65

for organ

  • No. 1 Rhapsodie cis-Moll
  • No. 2 Capriccio G-Dur
  • No. 3 Pastorale A-Dur
  • No. 4 Consolation
  • No. 5 Improvisation a-Moll
  • No. 6 Fuge a-Moll
  • No. 7 Präludium d-Moll
  • No. 8 Fuge D-Dur
  • No. 9 Canzone Es-Dur
  • No. 10 Scherzo d-Moll
  • No. 11 Toccata e-Moll
  • No. 12 Fuge E-Dur
Heft 1: Herrn Paul Homeyer zugeeignet.«; Heft 2: Herrn Professor Jos. Vockner zugeeignet.

Performance medium

Work collection
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Original work
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Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. I/6: Orgelstücke II, S. 2–73.
Herausgeber Alexander Becker, Christopher Grafschmidt, Stefan König, Stefanie Steiner-Grage.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlagsnummer: CV 52.806.
Erscheinungsdatum Oktober 2014.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2014 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.806.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-14353-4.
ISBN 978-3-89948-211-9.

1. Composition

On New Year’s Eve 1901 Reger enquired of Henri Hinrichsen whether the publisher C.F. Peters would again like a work from him in 1902: “How would it be, for example, with piano pieces, songs or chamber music?”1 The publisher answered immediately that he “would probably be interested in publishing a 2nd book of 12 organ pieces in the style of your Opus 59 in autumn, but here, ease of playability is a pre-condition”. (Letter dated 4 January 1902) As a result, Reger announced the dispatch of 14 organ pieces in time for a publication in autumn (“not 12 because of the similar title” and no more difficult than op 59”) (letter dated 8 January 1902). Hinrichsen agreed and requested the new organ pieces by the end of May.2

Little is known about the details of the composition of op. 65; Reger seems to have begun work on composing directly after finishing the Monologe op. 63 which were published by F.E.C. Leuckart. On 22 April 1902 he informed the music critic Theodor Kroyer that the Monologe for Leuckart should be ready for press in eight days, and in two weeks he would also be able to send his “op 65 ‘Romantische Stücke’ for organ (14 Nos, 56 pages)”” to Peters-Verlag (postcard). On 5 May Henri Hinrichsen wrote to Reger that there was no hurry to hand over the engraver’s copy, as the publication of the next batch of new publications was only planned for the beginning of September (letter). In the meantime, however, the composer must have told the publisher of his intentions to submit a total of 15 instead of the originally planned 12 pieces (Reger’s letters to the publisher between January and May 1902 have not survived), for on 9 May Hinrichsen replied: ““I am not entirely happy with the idea of publishing 15 organ pieces in 3 volumes; for as it is already quite difficult to introduce organ compositions and this is more a ‘matter of honor’, it is even more the case with a third volume of the same opus.” (Letter)

2. Publication

On 20 May 1902 Reger sent the manuscript to the publisher. This comprised 15 pieces continuously written out, from which he was unable to remove individual pages, and he asked the publisher whether he “would like to hold over for a later opus” the three numbers regarded as superfluous (the three pieces were included in op. 80 in 1904). With regard to the selection and sequence he instructed: “[…] in the 1st volume the Fughette should be omitted – the order of pieces remains as in the manuscript; in the 2nd volume the Intermezzo and Gigue will be omitted – the order of pieces also remains as in the manuscript!” In addition he assured him that the work had already been “carefully looked through, tried out in practice” (letter) and suggested 900 Marks as an overall royalty (for 15 pieces), which Hinrichsen accepted and paid two days later when sending the copyright agreement3. (Letter dated 22 Mai)

On 8 July the proofs were sent to Reger, who corrected them by the 18th (vol. 1) and 31st (vol. 2) of that month (“[…] if all the corrections are made with care, a new proof copy won’t be necessary!”; letter dated 18 July). On 3 September op. 65 was advertised as a new publication in the Signale für die Musikalische Welt (advertisement), and a week later Reger had complimentary copies of the first printed edition sent to Walter Fischer and Otto Becker, who were both to become outstanding performers of his work in Berlin (see letter and postkard resp.). This time, evidently for strategic reasons, Reger chose as dedicatees of the two volumes of op. 65, no ambitious Reger enthusiasts or artistic friends, but the Gewandhaus organist and conservatoire professor Paul Homeyer (vol. 1) and the former Bruckner pupil Josef Vockner (vol. 2), who taught at the Conservatoire of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna; these were two established leading performers of the older generation who still remained difficult to win over to Reger’s work.4

The publisher Hinrichsen had reacted sceptically to Reger’s repeated assertions that his op. 65 was not more difficult” in comparison with the Twelve Pieces op. 59, but was at least equal to it” (Letter), and after receiving the manuscript sought the advice of experts. These ranked the collection “because of its extremely complicated harmonies” as literature suitable for “very experienced players”. (see Hinrichsen’s letter to Reger) As Reger was criticised in many quarters for the difficulties of performing his works, he felt obliged to give a more detailed explanation: “Believe me, it would be almost a sin against my own talent if, against my better judgement, I were to give up my characteristic harmonic style as a concession. […] op 65 is certainly even more idiosyncratic than op 59; but it can be explained by the fact that over the last year I have deepened inwardly.” (Letter)


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

Letter, in Peters-Briefe, p. 59.
See letter dated 20 January 1902, Peters-Briefe, p. 61.
The copyright agreement with royalty receipt statement filled out and signed by Reger dated 23 May 1902 correspondingly lists “Twelve Pieces for the organ op 65 […] and […] Three Pieces for the organ 1. Fughette, 2. Gigue, 3. Intermezzo” (Sächsisches Staatsarchiv Leipzig, C.F. Peters Collection).
But in the case of Paul Homeyer Reger’s dedication proved ineffective. Homeyer did not perform Reger’s works, and instead, the composer placed his hopes on Karl Straube, the organist-designate of St Thomas’s Church, “in order to show the Leipzigers what organ playing really is, after the grandiose lazybones Homeyer let everything sink into a deep sleep” (letter dated 26 November 1902, in Straube-Briefe, p. 30). – Josef Vockner had nevertheless introduced Reger’s op. 59 at the Vienna Conservatoire (see Reger’s letter dated 1 October 1901 to Henri Hinrichsen, in Peters-Briefe, p. 57). Whether he still performed Reger’s works in the last years of his life is not known.

1. Reception

Opus 65 elicited varied responses in the press. The reviewer in the Monthly Musical Record, for example, expressed himself in similar fashion to Hinrichsen’s experts: “[…] the rhythms are intricate, the accidentals are numerous, while the writing is at times none too easy. The great art of expressing thoughts simply – in other words, concealing the art – is not to be found here; the composer is still in his storm and stress period.” (Review) But once again a few critics referred to the powerful force of Reger’s music. Heinrich Pfannschmidt, who wrote for the Monatschrift für Gottesdienst und kirchliche Kunst, recognised, for instance, that the Rhapsodie (no. 1) was predestined “to bring performer and audience almost to a state of ecstasy […] with its gripping rhythms, intensifications and contrasts”. (Review) But nevertheless, the popularity of op. 59 was not matched by this new collection; by comparison the publisher C.F. Peters only managed to sell about half as many copies by 1918.1 At least Consolation (no. 4) soon frequently appeared on concert programs.2

Three years after Reger’s death, Karl Straube published a collection of ten Preludes and Fugues with C.F. Peters which contained three pairs of movements from op. 65: nos. 5 and 6, 7 and 8, and 11 and 12.3 The edition, published without any explanatory foreword by Straube, constituted a true arrangement, as far as the performance instructions were concerned, and had a considerable influence on the reception history of the pieces concerned.4


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

See Wilske 1995, p. 178.
The earliest known performance of pieces from op. 65 is recorded as 9 February 1903, when Wilhelm Scholz played both Consolation (no. 4) and Canzone (no. 9) in the Hall of the Kaufmännischer Verein in Vienna. Consolation soon received other performances by players including Hermann Dettmer and Karl Straube (see Performances). On 29 June 1908 Jan Hermanus Besselaar jr. gave a concert in Rotterdam comprising exclusively pieces from op. 65 (nos. 3, 4 and 7–12).
In addition op. 59 nos. 5 and 6, op. 80 nos. 1 and 2 and nos. 11 and 12, as well as the complete op. 85 with its four corresponding pairs of movements.
See Anderson 2003, pp. 149–151.

1. Stemma

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


Der Edition liegt als Leitquelle der Erstdruck zugrunde. Als zusätzliche Quelle wurde die autographe Stichvorlage herangezogen. Die vorhandenen Entwürfe spielten für die Edition keine Rolle.

3. Sources

    Object reference

    Max Reger: Twelve Pieces op. 65, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 13th July 2024.


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