Four Preludes and Fugues op. 85

for organ

  • No. 1 Präludium und Fuge cis-Moll
  • No. 2 Präludium und Fuge G-Dur
  • No. 3 Präludium und Fuge F-Dur
  • No. 4 Präludium und Fuge e-Moll
Herrn Bernhard Irrgang zugeeignet.

Performance medium

Work collection
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Original work
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Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. I/7: Orgelstücke III, S. 62–94.
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 and Publication

Very little is known about the composition of Opus 85. Reger’s remark of 8 February 1904 to Karl Straube“the items for Peters will be in Leipzig by May (the end of May)” (letter) – may only have applied to Opus 80. His note of 19 May to the publisher, “the organ pieces are well & truly finished” (postcard), relates to Opus 80 as well as the Four Preludes and Fugues op. 85, as on 8 June he promised: “the works will definitely be sent to you next week; I am still busy working on them, trying out the things myself and investigating any possible errors in writing […] The 4 Preludes and Fugues would probably best be published at the end of this year or the beginning of next!” (Postcard)

On 15 June Reger handed over both works for engraving, accompanied by the request to publish not only Opus 80, but also Opus 85 in two volumes (see letter) – a request which the publisher did not comply with. Two days later Reger returned the signed copyright agreement together with the royalty receipt statement. He probably added the dedication to the Berlin organist Bernhard Irrgang, missing from the manuscript, to the proofs (which do not survive).1 On 26 August Reger wrote to Straube: “Has Hinrichsen already shown you my op. 85: Four Preludes and Fugues for organ! I think you will really like op. 85!” (Postcard) Whereas Opus 80 was published in September 1904, Opus 85 was only issued a year later with the new autumn publications 1905;2 on 21 September Reger wrote a letter of thanks “for kindly sending the wonderfully presented music” 3


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

Henri Hinrichsen’s statement in a draft letter dated 23 January 1906 (in Peters-Briefe, p. 120), that Reger had sent him “4 Organ Prel. & Fugues in Nov. 1904”, may refer to the set of proofs.
See Musikalisch-literarischer Monatsbericht über neue Musikalien, musikalische Schriften und Abbildungen, ed. Friedrich Hofmeister, Leipzig, September 1905, p. 474. On 24 May 1905 Reger also wrote to the Berlin military doctor Philipp Hümmerich, who had asked for information about the Bach Variations op. 81: “On 1. Sept my op85: 4 Preludes & Fugues for Organ will be published by Peters.” (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, shelf number: Autogr. Reger, Max)
Letter, in Peters-Briefe, p. 115.

1. Reception

The Four Preludes and Fugues op. 85 seem only to have been reviewed in general surveys and compendia, and then only very briefly.1 For Roderich von Mojsisovics they offered “masterworks of their kind, kept brief (fugues nos. 1 & 2 are tonal), […] for our purposes nothing extraordinary (in comparison with similar works by Reger already analysed)” (review). In his Reger monograph completed at the end of 1916, Ernst Isler made a similar assessment: “Pieces of masterly musical structure and brevity”.2 And Otto Burkert listed them under “Preludes and Fugues” in the “difficult” category, even though “Nos. 1 and 3 […] belong under the heading medium difficulty. In No. 1 it is admirable how Reger is able to pour the lyricism into the form of a fugue.” (Review)


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

The sales figures were also very low with only 800 copies sold by 1918/19 (see Wilske 1995, pp. 183 and 373) (see Opus 80 – Early reception, reference 2).
Ernst Isler, Max Reger, Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft in Zürich, 105. Neujahrsblatt, 1917, p. 37.

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.
Die praktische Ausgabe von Karl Straube war für die Edition lediglich mit Blick auf den schwarzen Notentext von Interesse.

3. Sources

    Object reference

    Max Reger: Four Preludes and Fugues op. 85, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 13th July 2024.


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