Twelve Pieces op. 80

for organ

  • No. 1 Präludium e-Moll
  • No. 2 Fughetta e-Moll
  • No. 3 Canzonetta g-Moll
  • No. 4 Gigue d-Moll
  • No. 5 Ave Maria
  • No. 6 Intermezzo g-Moll
  • No. 7 Scherzo fis-Moll
  • No. 8 Romanze a-Moll
  • No. 9 Perpetuum mobile f-Moll
  • No. 10 Intermezzo D-Dur
  • No. 11 Toccata a-Moll
  • No. 12 Fuge a-Moll
Heft 1: Herrn Fr. Grunicke zugeeignet.«; Heft 2: Herrn Otto Burkert zugeeignet.

Performance medium

Work collection
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Original work
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  • -


Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. I/7: Orgelstücke III, S. 6–59.
Herausgeber Alexander Becker, Christopher Grafschmidt, Stefan König, Stefanie Steiner-Grage.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlagsnummer: CV 52.807.
Erscheinungsdatum Juli 2015.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2015 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.807.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-16416-4.
ISBN 978-3-89948-224-9.

1. Composition

On 20 May 1902 Reger had submitted a manuscript with fifteen organ pieces to the publisher C.F. Peters, only twelve of which were included in the Opus 65 published at the end of August (see Opus 65 – Publication). At the time the Fughetta, the Gigue and the Intermezzo were not included, as a result of which he asked Henri Hinrichsen, the owner of the publishing house, “to be so kind as to keep these 3 pieces for a future Opus” (letter), which he promised for the coming year (letter dated 31. May).

From 1903, however, Reger was contracted to the publisher Lauterbach & Kuhn so the onus may have been on Hinrichsen to come back to him in the autumn regarding the promised continuation. Firstly, in mid-December Reger had the publisher send him the three pieces engraved just a month earlier;1 these were to serve him as a yardstick in terms of “difficulty versus easiness” in completing the new collection (letter date 30. December 1903). There is no record of when the decision was made to write a further nine pieces, and thus provide a third collection of twelve pieces for C.F. Peters following on from opp. 59 and 65: at any rate, Hinrichsen initially expected “another set of organ pieces by spring” (letter dated 20. December 1903), and Reger also discussed with Karl Straube in February 1904 the general topic of “items for Peters”, which were to be “in Leipzig by May (the end of May)” (see letter dated 8. February).2 He returned the proofs of the three pieces composed earlier on 15 February 1904, and requested a further proof copy (see Postcard).

The main compositional work on the new pieces probably took place in May.3 Reger described them as “well & truly finished” on the 19th of that month, although he wanted to “go through them and play through them in minute detail.” (Postcard)” 4 This practical trying out which Reger usually undertook, and with which he wanted to pick up ““any possible errors in writing”, proved difficult “in manuscripts of such dense writing”, and Reger admitted: “[…] I must get into the habit of writing larger!”(postcard dated 8. June) Reger initially numbered the newly-composed pieces consecutively in black ink – the pagination is consecutive as well – but the beginning of the second volume appears to have been firmly fixed from the very beginning. After completing the composition, Reger indicated in the first volume, which contained just three new pieces, how the three pieces already engraved should be integrated (see Stichvorlage), and corrected the numbering in red ink; the order of the six pieces in the second volume remained unaltered.

On 15 June Reger finally sent the engraver’s copy of the nine additionally composed pieces together with the manuscript of Opus 85 (see below) by post (see letter). By the following day he received the copyright agreement for both works, which were paid for together (see Henri Hinrichsen’s letter dated 16 June).

2. Publication

The preparation of the works [of op. 80] for print followed quickly, Reger finished the proof-reading by 4 August 1904,5 and it was possible to keep to the September date of publication, planned for in May (see Postcard vom 19. Mai). On 12 September Reger received the gratis copies of the first edition and thanked the publisher “for the outstandingly beautiful presentation of this work.”(Letter)


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

“I would be much obliged then, if you would send me proofs of the 3 organ pieces, to which you will receive some new ones in good time.” (Letter dated 17 December 1903). By 30 December at the latest, Reger had received the pages he wanted (see letter). – The date»3 | 11 | 03« written in the engraver's copy at the end of the Intermezzo by a foreign hand is probably connected with the printing of the three pieces.
When returning the proofs of the Fughetta, Gigue and Intermezzo to the publisher, Reger merely promised to deliver the “complete manuscript” by “mid-May at the latest”, but did not give any information about its planned extent. (Letter dated 15 February 1904).
Elsa Reger’s note to the Berlin performer and reviewer Walter Fischer of 5 May, “[My husband] is now working on an organ work again” (Postcard), clearly refers to Opus 80.
As early as 18 May, Reger had erroneously announced his Opus 80 to Walter Fischer as “just published”, which Fischer had possibly “already received”. (Letter)
Reger wrote to Paul Ollendorff, the company secretary of C.F. Peters on 5 August: “You must have already received the proofs of op 80; I sent them yesterday by registered mail! Our packets have crossed in the post! Very little was missing, so a new proof isn’t necessary!” (Postcard)

1. Reception

With the Twelve Pieces op. 80 Reger came up against those critics and organists who felt his earlier works were inspired, but technically too demanding.(see Hinrichsen’s letter to Reger dated 8. July 1902) Nevertheless these “simple little pieces” (letter dated 11 September 1904 to Karl Straube) found not only a positive reception in the press. They were described by Elias Oechsler in the Monatschrift für Gottesdienst und kirchliche Kunst 1905 as “the fully mature works of a brilliant master” and “rich in content, perfect in form and masterly in counterpoint” (review) however, for Wilhelm Herold (in the periodical Siona) they lacked “the clear and broadly drawn high points”, so that he declared the pieces to be “often more interesting than beautiful in the full sense.” (Review) Although the individual pieces from Opus 80 were rapidly included in concert programs far and wide after their publication – early interpreters included Otto Burkert, the dedicatee of the second volume, as well as Heinrich Reimann 1 –, the composer was not able to follow on from the success of the Twelve Pieces op. 59 with his new collection.2 


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

When Reimann, who encountered Reger’s works with scepticism, performed a total of seven pieces from the new collection in the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche in Berlin on 13 October 1904, Reger commented on this to Karl Straube, a former pupil of Reimann, as follows: “Wonders will never cease” (letter dated 14. October 1904).
By the accounting period 1918/19 the Twelve Pieces op. 59 were the most successful of Reger’s original works published by C.F. Peters with 5,252 copies sold, the Twelve Pieces op. 65 remained well behind this with 2,645 copies sold, and with Opus 80 the sales figures were lower with 2,455 copies (see Wilske 1995, S. 128, 178 und 182).

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 wurden die autographen Stichvorlagen herangezogen.

3. Sources

    Object reference

    Max Reger: Twelve Pieces op. 80, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 13th July 2024.


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