Fantasia and Fugue in D minor op. 135b

for organ

  • I. Phantasie
  • II. Fuge
Meister Richard Strauss in besonderer Verehrung

Performance medium

Work collection
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Original work
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  • -



Bd. I/3: Phantasien und Fugen, Variationen, Sonaten, Suiten II, S. 152–169.

Verworfene Langfassung: ebd., S. 174–195.

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

Between August and November 1914 Reger wrote Thirty Little Chorale Preludes on the most common chorales. By the end of September at the latest, these were assigned the opus number 135a,1 that is, they were intended to be completed with a more weighty opus (as with op. 46, see Composition), about which he reported to Karl Straube: “Now regarding the organ work: I will confess to you that I have such a work in mind! I’m already a bit ‘pregnant’ with the matter! It will probably turn out well!” (Letter) At the end of October, the plans for the work became firmer (“A new major organ work is ‘crystallising’” 2), however these were subsequently postponed, probably because of continuing concert engagements. On 18 January 1915, Reger offered to Richard Strauss “the dedication of a new work”, which he wanted to give further information about when we meet in Berlin” (Letter). The forthcoming charity concert by the Königliche Kapelle under Strauss on 5 February in Berlin, at which Reger was to conduct his Mozart Variations op. 132 and the Vaterländische Ouvertüre op. 140, had possibly led him to dedicate an organ work to Strauss again, seventeen years after the Fantasia and Fugue in C minor op. 29.

However, the future op. 135b was only begun after Reger’s move to Jena in March 1915, which also freed the composer from a serious creative crisis into which he had fallen after discontinuing the latin Requiem (WoO V/9). From Jena he wrote on 30 April 1915, again to Straube: “It will probably interest you to hear that I am working on a new organ work in a grand style!” (Letter) A week later Reger and Straube met in Leipzig;3 but they probably did not manage to look through the manuscript together on this occasion. On 17 May Reger sent the engraver’s copy to the publisher N. Simrock in Berlin, announcing “an organ work of the grandest style – but not too long –!”. (Letter) Just a few days later he confirmed “the receipt of the fee of 1,000 M [Marks] for op135b (Letter).

2. Publication

On 24 May 1915 Reger informed his friend Hans von Ohlendorff about sending his Fantasia and Fugue in D minor op. 135b to his publisher N. Simrock, instructing them to engrave it “in the same format (Postcard) as his Chorale Preludes op. 135a. Reger received the first proofs after 15 January 1916 (dating of the engravers), however, he was unable to deal with them immediately because of his concert tours (see Postcard to N. Simrock). Only on 1 March 1916 did Reger report to Karl Straube: “I am checking through the proof sheets of my op135b: Fantasia and Fugue (D minor) for organ just now! A new grand organ work! I hope very much to be able to give you this in April, printed. It is 20 printed pages long.” 4 (Postcard) There is no record in Reger’s correspondence of how far the correction process had progressed in March 1916. Because of numerous concert engagements the time available for this was scare. Only after 6 April was Reger able to devote himself to dealing with the dreadful number of proofs 5 which had accumulated in the preceding weeks.

In Reger’s first proofs three extensive deletions which reduced the length of the work from twenty to sixteen printed pages were particularly noteworthy: in the Fantasia he deleted measures 40–49 (p. 9 of the proofs), in the Fugue measures 44–63 (pp. 15–16) and measure 74 to the middle of measure 81 (p. 18); at the transition points he made adjustments by pasting over certain passages. Reger seems, however, to have only begun making these deletions after 1 March 1916, for on that day he was still speaking to Straube of “a length of 20 pages” (see above). On the basis of the surviving sources we can assume that the deletion of measures 44–63 of the Fugue preceded the two other deletions: on the one hand, there are no corrections in red ink by Reger in this section; on the other hand, the pagination of the original pages 17–20 was altered in two stages, initially to 15–18 and then to 14–16. Therefore it emerges that Reger removed the original pages 15 and 16 before he entered corrections in red ink, while the original pages 9 (Fantasia, measures 40–49) and 18 (Fugue, measures 74–81) were deleted at a later time following this stage of corrections.

Until now, all three of these deletions have been attributed to an evening meeting between Reger and Straube on 11 April 1916 in Leipzig. Reger travelled to Jena the following morning, and on the evening of 12 April wrote: “I have already made all the alterations in the organ work! I will send it to Berlin tomorrow and will have a model copy made for you as soon as possible! I think I will be able to send this to you soon. It was truly fine that we met yesterday evening.” (Postcard) As well as the “alterations” not specified in detail, that evening the two friends evidently also discussed the fact that Straube was to premiere the work in Hanover (see Uraufführung).

The deletions of measures 40–49 of the Fantasia and measures 74–81 of the Fugue may have been the subject of this discussion. So entries in pencil by Reger are found at the relevant place in the proofs of the Fugue, sketching out the altered connecting passage. They can be interpreted either as a visualisation for Straube or as a memory aid for Reger. The deletion of the original measures 44–63 of the Fugue described above, however, may have already been made before this meeting, for it is hardly likely that as well as making the corrections with red ink (from p. 15 at least), all three deletions were made within half a day.6 In addition, in one passage already altered by a pasting over made in the course of the first deletion (Fugue, measure 40), there is a striking alteration in the disposition of the manuals which must therefore have taken place after this deletion. The new disposition of the manuals may, on the other hand, belong to the “alterations” suggested by Straube.7

When returning the first proofs to the publisher on 13 April, Reger explained in detail the technical process of shortening the work, and requested a further set of proofs and the model copy for Straube to prepare for the premiere. At the same time he asked “most urgently that I am sent back the old proofs, now sent to you”. (Letter) According to the note on the first proofs, both the sets of new proofs were “definitely” to be produced “by 18/4”; by 22 April Reger was able to send the rehearsal copy to Straube. (Letter) Six days later, the publisher also received the corrected second proofs from Reger: “[…] there is almost nothing left to be done; just a few minor details!” (Letter) Reger played the work through on the piano – from the first proofs he had regained as requested – on 3 May with Fritz Busch, who received the proofs as a present (note).

But Reger did not live to see either the publication or the premiere of the Fantasia and Fugue in D minor op. 135b.


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

“I was very diligent; I have written a new Piano Quartet op 133, then a major variation work for piano solo op 134, then “Hymnus der Liebe” (op 136) for baritone with orchestra, 25 chorale preludes for organ op 135a; 12 sacred songs for voice and piano op 137; 8 sacred choruses (4–8 parts) op 138; then I have orchestrated a series of Hugo Wolf’s songs, marked up a series of Bach’s orchestral works in detail in the scores, and marked up several Bach keyboard concertos in detail in the scores. That is my work since the end of July.” (Letter dated 28 September 1914 to Adolf Wach, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Musikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv, shelf number: N.Mus.ep.1438).
Postcard dated 29 October 1914 to Karl Straube, in Straube-Briefe, p. 244.
See postcards dated 3 and 5 May 1915 to Karl Straube, in Straube-Briefe, p. 251.
The announcement as a new publication and the indication of length suggest that Straube did not know the work at that point.
Postcard dated 9 April 1916 to Hugo Grüters (Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe, shelf number: Ep. Ms. 778). He wrote in similar vein to Johann Joseph Schumacher (postcard, ibid., shelf number: Ep. Ms. 1376) and to Simrock-Verlag (letter, in Simrock-Briefe, p. 328.). – During this period Reger worked on proofs of the following works: Johann Sebastian Bach, Suite in G minor in Reger’s arrangement for small orchestra, RWV Bach-B13 (returned to the publisher on 10 April 1916); Johannes Brahms, Five slow movements from the symphonies in Reger’s arrangement for piano, RWV Brahms-B4 (returned on 13 April); Two Songs op. 144 for solo, mixed chorus and orchestra, scores and vocal scores (returned on 18 and 25 April); Johann Sebastian Bach, Suite in C major for orchestra BWV 1066, in Reger’s arrangement for practical use, RWV Bach-H17 (returned on 22 April) and Hymnus der Liebe for baritone (or alto) and orchestra op. 136 (returned on 28 April). Reger did no further work on the proofs of the Eight sacred songs for mixed chorus op. 138, as he died in the night between 10 and 11 May.
In any case, it was hardly possible that the deletion of page 18 could have been discussed with Straube; it is conceivable that Reger would then first have edited this in red ink the following day.
Christopher Anderson wrote with regard to this intervention: »What is now the final entrance of the first fugue’s subject (in the tenor […]) was originally moved to the stronger Manual I along with – as practical considerations dictate – the baritone voice. In the revision, Reger wrote for the baritone line the same indication as for the upper two voices (‘sempre II. Man.’), placing only the tenor voice on Manual I through the end of the subject […]. This new arrangement, while not impossible to perform, presents significant technical difficulties and forces the player to divide the tenor between the inside fingers of both hands. Of course, the subject is rendered absolutely clearly through the crescendo Reger prescribes, and there can be little doubt that such elaborate orchestration stems from Straube’s suggestions.« (Anderson 2003, p. 67)

1. Reception

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

1. Stemma

2. Quellenbewertung

Der Edition liegt als Leitquelle der Erstdruck zugrunde. Als zusätzliche Quellen wurden die autographe Stichvorlage sowie die beiden erhaltenen Korrekturabzüge (KA1 bzw. KA2) herangezogen. Die aus dem 1. Korrekturabzug entfernten Seiten betreffen lediglich die verworfene Erstfassung (siehe Anhang). Der Entwurf spielte für die Edition ebenfalls keine Rolle.


Quellenbewertung verworfene Erstfassung

4. Sources

    Object reference

    Max Reger: Fantasia and Fugue in D minor op. 135b, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 16th June 2024.


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