Nine Pieces op. 129

for organ

  • No. 1 Toccata d-Moll
  • No. 2 Fuge d-Moll
  • No. 3 Kanon e-Moll
  • No. 4 Melodia B-Dur
  • No. 5 Capriccio g-Moll
  • No. 6 Basso ostinato g-Moll
  • No. 7 Intermezzo f-Moll
  • No. 8 Präludium h-Moll
  • No. 9 Fuge h-Moll
Meinem lieben Freunde Hans von Ohlendorff zugeeignet

Performance medium

Work collection
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Original work
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Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. I/7: Orgelstücke III, S. 111–140.
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 6 May 1913 Reger wrote to the publisher Bote & Bock: “I am contractually obliged to supply you with shorter, easier pieces every year and I would therefore like to suggest to you that I write short easy organ pieces. I think this is a very good idea.” (Letter)1 The publisher seems to have responded favorably to this idea, for in his letter dated 18 May, Reger took “note of this with satisfaction”.70 In July Reger assured the publishers several times that he would submit the new organ pieces in good time, “so that the pieces can comfortably be published on 1 October a.c. [= annus currens]” (letter).2

Reger also told his Hamburg friend Hans von Ohlendorff at the beginning of August of his composition plans for the summer holidays, which he spent in Kolberg on the Baltic coast. These included, amongst other works, the Organ Pieces op. 129 (see postcard). Seven of an eventual total of nine pieces were finished by 26 August.3 Reger wrote to Hans von Ohlendorff on 6 September: “op129 are 9 organ pieces which I have just finished today and which I will dedicate to you. They are 9 easy, but very fine pieces. Where these will be published I don’t yet know;4 I suppose by Bote & Bock. But I will let you know straight away when I know where the pieces will be published.” (Letter)5

2. Publication

Reger sent the manuscript to the publisher Bote & Bock on 8 September 1913: “Enclosed you will find the promised organ pieces op 129. There are 9 pieces; according to our royalty agreements the royalty for these would amount to 2700 M. I will let you have these 9 organ pieces for 2000 M; that is 700 M less than our royalty agreement. I believe that with this, I have shown willingness to cooperate with you, better than you could have wished for. I only ask that you have the work engraved as soon as possible, so that I receive the proofs before 25 Sept., so that I can deal with these before 1 October, as my extremely demanding winter begins on 1 October. […] As the 9 organ pieces are really so very easy, the engraving of these should not present any difficulties, so that I can have the proofs of these comfortably by 25 September.” (Letter)6 In the same letter, Reger suggested a division of the nine pieces into two volumes, “so that the price for one volume will be moderate.”

Just a day after dispatching the manuscript, Reger confirmed the receipt of a telegram from the publisher which promised to speed up the publication (postcard dated 9 September). Hans von Ohlendorff also now learned: “The new organ pieces op129 will be published by Bote & Bock.” (Postcard dated 11 September) On 12 September Reger asked the publisher to send the royalty and the copyright agreements for his opp 128 and 129 and again requested that the proofs of the organ pieces be sent by 25 September at the latest to his Meiningen address (Brief) – a request which he repeated a week later when returning the royalty receipt statement and the copyright agreement.7 In fact Reger received the proofs on 25 September and returned these, as planned, to the publisher on 1 October: “[…] not much is missing; so I don’t need a new proof copy” (letter).

Reger had probably been asked by Hans von Ohlendorff for permission for the pieces to be performed by the Hamburg organist Alfred Sittard. He finally informed Ohlendorff, the dedicatee, on 30 September: “The organ pieces op129 can of course now be played, but Herr Sittard must buy a copy as soon as the work is published, so that there is no unpleasantness with the publisher.” (Letter)

Reger entrusted the Pieces op. 129 to his friend Karl Straube, who was to inaugurate the new organ in the Meiningen Schützenhaus Hall with a concert on 19 April 1914: “[…] you shouldn’t play pieces which are too big there 1) people won’t understand them and 2) the organ is also too small. Choose Bach, Mendelssohn, Reger. For my BACH [op. 46] the organ is barely big enough. I would also like to recommend to you most strongly that you play a few ‘gentle Henries’; you have a mass of such things from me. (Espe­cially in my op 129, Bote & Bock).” (Letter)8


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

Reger repeated this suggestion in almost the same words in a further letter to the publisher dated 9 May. – He had already made a contractual agreement with the Leipzig publisher Lauterbach & Kuhn, following the intricate works which lay close to his heart, to continue to submit a series of short and easy-to-perform pieces which promised better sales to performers (see Prelude and Fugue in F sharp minor). Reger also had to fulfil this obligation to Lauterbach & Kuhn’s legal successors, the Berlin publisher Bote & Bock.
Postcard to Joseph Schumacher: “op 129 7 organ pieces. You can see, I’ve been working hard.” Three days later Reger also promised the publisher that he would deliver the new organ pieces “as soon as possible” (letter dated 29 August 1913)
It is not clear why Reger, despite firm agreements with Bote & Bock, should remain vague about a publisher in his correspondence with Ohlendorff; possibly the work had not long been assigned, as no official copyright agreement had been signed and he had not yet received any royalty.
In the same letter Reger thanked Ohlendorff for a Christmas donation of 500 Marks for the Meiningen Hofkapelle, so the dedication should probably also be regarded as thanks for this donation.
Fritz Stein, who visited Reger in Kolberg, noted in his diary: “9.9. Reger played me the new organ pieces op. 127 [sic: 129], likewise the Tondichtungen [symphonic poems] after Böcklin [op. 128].” (Stunden mit Max Reger, Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe, shelf number: D. Ms. 71)
See letter dated 19 September: “Will I receive the proofs of op. 129 by 25 September??”
Straube, however, did not play the new pieces, but chose alongside the originally planned Opus 46 numbers 7 (Kyrie eleison) and 9 (Benedictus) from Opus 59.

1. Reception

Although easy-to-perform pieces such as Reger’s Opus 129 were highly regarded by musicians, after their publication they bare­ly received any notice in the specialist press.1 Only Ernst Schnorr von Carolsfeld summed up in the periodical Die Musik the fact that Reger, with his opp 127 and 129 – the first larger-scale organ works since his Suite op. 92 of 1906 – had “only partially fulfilled” organists’ expectations. Compared with the early works, they were “strikingly peaceful, almost a little tired of life” and left “less lasting impressions”. And even though “various kinds of rewarding exercises of a technical nature” were to be found in the pieces, the “technical demands […] were considerably fewer than in Reger’s earlier works, particularly in the smaller pieces of op. 129, amongst which we would like to predict the rapid popularity of the Canon [no. 3], the Melody [no. 4] (incidentally the o n l y piece in a major key!) and the Prelude in B minor [no. 8].” (Review)


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

See Wilske 1995, p. 303.

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 Entwürfe zu den Nummern 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 und 8 spielten für die Edition keine Rolle.

3. Sources

    Object reference

    Max Reger: Nine Pieces op. 129, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 18th May 2024.


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