Weihegesang WoO V/6

for alto, mixed voice choir and orchestra

Komponiert in Leipzig, Ende Juni bis Anfang Juli 1908

Performance medium
Alto solo; Mixed choir [Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass]; Orchestra [Flute 1, Flute 2, Oboe 1, Oboe 2, Clarinet 1, Clarinet 2, Bassoon 1, Bassoon 2, French horn 1, French horn 2, French horn 3, French horn 4, Timpani 1, Timpani 2]

Work collection
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Original work
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Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. II/11: Chorwerke mit Klavierbegleitung, S. 124–133.
Herausgeber Christopher Grafschmidt, Claudia Seidl.
Unter Mitarbeit von Knud Breyer und Stefan König.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlagsnummer: CV 52.818.
Erscheinungsdatum September 2022.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2022 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.818.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-29723-7.
ISBN 978-3-89948-433-5.


Text template
First edition

Template edition

Used for comparison purposes in RWA: Otto Liebmann: Weihe-gesang, in: Liebmann, Otto: , p. [n. o. s.].

Copy shown in RWA: unknown


Note: Vorlage: Manuskript (verschollen).

Note: Das gedruckte Textblatt entspricht weitgehend dem Autograph.

1. Composition and Publication

In the course of planning for the 350th anniversary of the University of Jena, which was to be celebrated in July 1908, the Music Director Fritz Stein even arranged for Reger to receive commissions for two works: a composition for the Festival service (see Opus 106) and one for the inauguration ceremony of the new University building. The latter work was to be a setting of a poem probably specially written for this occasion by the Jena philosopher Otto Liebmann. Stein presumably informed Reger of this second commission on 24 October 1907 on a visit to Leipzig, where he might have given him the poem. The very next day Reger promised: “I will definitely compose the “Weihegesang”! Tell Herr L. the poet this as soon as possible!” (Postcard dated 25 Oktober)

But Reger did not have any time to devote to the Weihegesang until spring 1908. At the beginning of May – he had nevertheless already started work on Psalm 100 op. 106 – he finally contacted Stein: “Enclosed is the text from Geheimrat [Privy Councillor] Liebmann!1 Through-composed, this text lasts at least 30 minutes; please, discuss with Liebmann that for your celebration he should send me a very short text as soon as possible & give me permission to set the enclosed text later separately! […] – But, the main thing is that the new text by Geheimrath Liebmann reaches me as soon as possible! Please, arrange everything with the greatest diplomacy! (Letter dated 6 May) Since Liebmann did not go along with this, things remained as previously agreed: “But the piece will definitely last 10 minutes then! […] just tell him that I will compose his whole Weihe-Gesang text; that will certainly greatly please the old gentleman!” (Letter dated 9 May)

Work on Psalm 100 took up so much of Reger’s time that he was probably only able to turn to the Weihegesang in mid-June, “as a side activity”2. He promised Stein that he would “be finished with the Liebmann chorus by 1 July” (letter dated 16 June), and recommended him to get in touch with Breitkopf & Härtel concerning the performance material, as with the Psalm. About a week later he was clear about the orchestration – “naturally very tender” (postcard dated 22 June to Stein): “2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 timpani. That will surely not be too loud” (postcard dated 23 June to Stein). And by 24 June Reger asked his friend to tell the poet “that the composition of his “Weihegesang” for alto solo, mixed chorus, wind orchestra and timpani is finished; […] the piece is kept very simple and dignified!” (Postcard)

Contrary to his promise to supply Breitkopf & Härtel on 1 July with “the parts of the Liebmann Hymn to copy out” (postcard dated 28 June to Stein), Reger only sent the score and choral parts to the publisher on 6 July with the request “to have the four choral parts produced by autography, but to have the orchestral parts […] written out. […] I ask you most urgently to speed up the “Weihegesang” so that Herr Prof. Stein definitely has the complete material in his hands by next Monday 13 July at the latest (letter). He sent the piano reduction for choir to Stein the next day (see letter dated 7 July), the soloist Maria Philippi had “already received her piano reduction with the alto part!” (Ibid.)

After the successful premiere on 31 July, Reger asked Stein “to give the original manuscript of the Weihegesang (score), a spare copy of which I still own, to G.R. Liebmann as soon as possible with my best wishes for a pleasant memory” (letter dated 2 August). It is unclear for what reasons Reger asked Stein with some urgency at the end of the year to have a further copy made of the performance copy given to Otto Liebmann3.4

Reger initially did not have it in mind to publish the Weihegesang. However, at a concert in Jena on 8 February 1909 “various gentlemen from the University expressed their regret that the work, which had pleased them all so much, had not yet been published” (letter dated 19 February to Hugo Bock), whereupon he offered it to Bote & Bock on 19 February, by sending them one of the two copies: “[…] it is in fact very easy, anyone can sing it; the scoring of the wind orchestra is also very easy; then again I am clear that the work will not be very widely performed. Do you want to have it?” (Ibid.) Reger had evidently assigned the rights in it to his wife Elsa, as he asked that if the publisher accepted the work, the fee “be sent straight to my wife, as my wife is the copyright owner (ibid.). Hugo Bock accepted it and sent the royalty immediately, whereupon Reger added the dedication which it still lacked on 21 February: “I am delighted that you are to take the “Weihegesang”; please place the following dedication at the top of the work: “Dedicated to the poet with special admiration.”” (Letter)

The performance material prepared by Breitkopf & Härtel, which Reger had requested from Stein for this purpose,5 served as the engraver’s copy for the parts. Although Reger had prepared piano reductions for the choir and the soloist, neither of these reproduces the complete work and were therefore also not envisaged for publication. The reduction presented in the RWA offers a synopsis of the two manuscripts.

Further stages in the printing and proof-reading process are not documented. Reger simply approved the title design on 31 May, “with which I am naturally in agreement (letter), and added the information about the occasion for composition on 25 June6. The first edition, produced by autography, must have reached him by 11 July at the latest, since Otto Liebmann wrote on 12 July with thanks for the “most pleasantly surprising package for me” (letter) and the dedication. On 13 July Reger sent a copy to Stein7 and finally thanked Hugo Bock on 16 July8.


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

Reger must have prepared a copy, for a few days later he talked of the text “which I have already received from him”. (Letter dated 9 May 1908)
Fritz Stein, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des 100. Psalms, in MMRG, no. 5 [May 1926], pp. 1–8, here: p. 4.
See postcards dated 17, 19, and 25 December.
Stein presumably gave Reger the copy at the beginning of January 1909 (see postcard dated 25 December 1908 to Stein).
See letter dated 13 July: “Enclosed I am sending you the material for the Weihegesang sent to me at that time rolled up”.
See letter.
See letter: “I have an awful lot of work & an endless amount of correspondence to deal with! Please forgive my haste & my writing. […] With best wishes, your exhausted Reger.”

1. Reception

During Reger’s lifetime, the Weihegesang only appears to have been performed twice, and only in Jena. With regard to the premiere on 31 July 1908, Hermann Schmid had become convinced after attending a rehearsal “that this Weihegesang is one of the most precious pearls in the crown of Reger’s compositions. Its radiant glow was helped primarily by the deeply-felt performing art of Fräulein Maria Philippi, who, with her outstandingly beautiful, sunny glowing alto voice […] undoubtedly touched the hearts of all at the inauguration celebrations.” (Jenaische Zeitung) However, at a further performance on 30 January 1911, the work seemed “duller […] than back then” (Die Musik) to Alexander Elster, possibly in the face of strong competition (the Symphony in B minor by Franz Schubert, Alto Rhapsody and songs by Johannes Brahms, the G major Symphony KV 318 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Freischütz Overture by Carl Maria von Weber).


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

1. Stemma

Die in Klammern gesetzten Quellen sind verschollen.
Die in Klammern gesetzten Quellen sind verschollen.

2. Quellenbewertung

Der Edition liegen als Leitquellen der Erstdruck der Partitur sowie für den Klaviersatz die beiden ungedruckten Auszüge zugrunde, die jedoch auf das Notwendigste reduziert sind (s.u., Synopse). Als Referenzquellen wurden die Erstschrift der Partitur und der Erstdruck der Solostimme herangezogen.

3. Synopse

T. 0 Klavier fehlt
T. 1–24 Solo und Klavier Pause mit Hinweis
T. 25–28 Solo und Klavier Solo und Klavier
T. 29–71 Pause mit Hinweis Chor
T. 72–78 Klavier Pause mit Hinweis
T. 79–107 Solo und Klavier Pause mit Hinweis
T. 108 Klavier Klavier
T. 109–111 Pause mit Hinweis Klavier
T. 112–157 Pause mit Hinweis Chor oder Klavier
T. 158–168 Klavier Pause mit Hinweis
T. 169–201 Solo und Klavier Pause mit Hinweis
T. 202–203 Klavier Klavier
T. 204–238 Solo und Klavier oder Chor Solo und Klavier oder Chor

4. Sources

  • Erstschrift (ES)
  • Klavierauszug für die Altstimme (K-A)
  • Klavierauszug für den Chor (K-C)
  • Erstdruck (ED)
  • Erstdruck Altstimme (ED-A)
Object reference

Max Reger: Weihegesang WoO V/6, in: Reger-Werkausgabe, www.reger-werkausgabe.de/mri_work_00215.html, last check: 13th April 2024.


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