Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme in F sharp minor op. 73

for organ

  • I. Introduzione – Thema und Variationen
  • II. Fuge
Karl Straube zur Erinnerung an den 14. Juni 1903

Performance medium

Work collection
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Original work
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  • -


Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. I/3: Phantasien und Fugen, Variationen, Sonaten, Suiten II, S. 34–75.
Herausgeber Alexander Becker, Christopher Grafschmidt, Stefan König, Stefanie Steiner.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlagsnummer: CV 52.803.
Erscheinungsdatum Juni 2012.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2012 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.803.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-09754-7.
ISBN 978-3-89948-170-9.

1. Composition

At a concert in Basel on 14 June 1903 Reger was asked by Karl Straube to “write an organ work for him without reference to Protestant chorales”, so that he might have available “a piece not related to the church in cities which are predominantly Catholic orientated”; Straube suggested “the form of variations and fugue on a theme of your own” (Letter dated 25 Februar 1944 to Hans Klotz). The dedication to “Karl Straube zur Erinnerung an den 14. Juni 1903” (Karl Straube as a souvenir of 14 June 1903) refers to this proposal.

Reger took up Straube’s suggestion as early as the summer holidays in Schneewinkl. He told the organist Walter Fischer about the work on 8 July 1903, saying that the composition would be forthcoming “as soon as possible” (Letter). Reger probably began working on this in August, when only the finishing touches remained to be added to his opp. 71 (Gesang der Verklärten for mixed chorus and orchestra) and 72 (Violin Sonata in C major). There is no further mention of the work in his correspondence before he wrote the date of completion at the end of the manuscript (see engraver’s copy) on 16 September.

Asked later by Straube for a comment on the content, Reger replied:

[…] yes, what should I say: the work itself was born out of a truly melancholy mood; in its resignation the theme says everything; the ‘melancholy’ third measure of the theme itself plays a major role throughout the work:

I think that will probably be enough, you know I am so reluctant to talk about it, because I feel it is ‘posing’ to ‘show off’ about one’s moods and emotions.

(Letter dated 25 June 1904)

2. Publication

On 26 September 1903 he submitted the manuscript to his then principal publisher Lauterbach & Kuhn (Letter). The receipt of a third complicated work (following Gesang der Verklärten op. 71 and Violin sonata in C major op. 72) within ten days caused the publisher problems, which is why they sought expert advice from Karl Straube and others and finally decided on opp. 72 and 73.

Reger received the proofs before 2 December and promised to check them by the end of the month.1 In the course of revising them he made some tempo modifications and other alterations2 and sent the manuscript and proofs back to the publisher on 30 December, as agreed (Letter). By 5 February 1904 Reger thanked his publisher for the first edition: “design and presentation look splendid!” (Letter)

Parallel to returning the proofs at the end of December 1903, Reger had also sent Karl Straube a copy of the proofs of the work so that he could practice “the work for his last concert of this season” (Letter).3 Since the corrections mentioned above preceded this consignment, they are not connected to any possible reply which Straube may have sent. Straube also stressed later that he had no “influence on the performance markings in these variations” (Letter dated 25 February 1944 to Hans Klotz).


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

For example Variations, measures 14, 17 or 40, 26, 85, 101, 116, 141, 142, 156, 203 (1), 203 (2) and 250 or Fugue, measures 0 and 80.
In fact op. 73 was only premiered in March 1905 by Walter Fischer (see Early reception).

1. Reception

At present, there are no records of performances in Reger's time.

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: Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme in F sharp minor op. 73, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 20th May 2024.


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