Twelve Choruses from the Volksliederbuch WoO VI/26

for mixed voice unaccompanied choir

  • No. 1 Lob der Freundschaft

    Text: Simon Dach

  • No. 10 Der eifersüchtige Knabe

    Text: unknown

  • No. 11 Jäger und Nixe

    Text: Ottmar Schönhuth

  • No. 12 Ziege und Bock

    Text: unknown

  • No. 2 Auswandererlied

    Text: unknown

  • No. 3 Prinz Eugen, der edle Ritter

    Text: unknown

  • No. 4 Rheinweinlied

    Text: Matthias Claudius

    – Melody: Johann André

  • No. 5 Untreue

    Text: Joseph von Eichendorff

  • No. 6 Das Ringlein

    Text: unknown

  • No. 7 Hochzeitslied

    Text: unknown

  • No. 8 Gruß

    Text: unknown

  • No. 9 Die Würzburger Glöckli

    Text: unknown

Komponiert in Kolberg, vor dem 21. August bis spätestens 13. September 1913

Performance medium
Mixed choir [Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass]

Work collection
  • -
Original work
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  • -


Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. II/9: Werke für gemischten Chor a cappella II, S. 142–155.
Herausgeber Christopher Grafschmidt.
Unter Mitarbeit von Nikolaos Beer, Stefan König und Dennis Ried.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlags- und Plattennummer: CV 52.816.
Erscheinungsdatum Oktober 2021.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2021 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.816.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-26186-3.
ISBN 978-3-89948-418-2.

1. Composition and Publication

After the publication of the Volksliederbuch für Männerchor in February 1907, Kaiser Wilhelm II suggested a Volksliederbuch für gemischten Chor. The Commission responsible began work in 1908, and the first full session was held on 30 June 1910.1 In the planning “particular attention was paid to […] the first flowering of folk song, to the 15th and 16th centuries”, and the search for suitable arrangers “beyond the circle of the Commission amongst the most expert and established specialists” could be undertaken in good time.2 Even though the final selection of songs could only be agreed at the second full session on 21 June 1913 3 because of “repeated surveys and votes” 4, according to the report of this meeting, the Entwurf für das Volksliederbuch für gemischten Chor, all the arrangers had already been identified.5 It is perfectly possible that the “arrangements of around 40 wonderful, old folk songs – from the 15th–17th centuries – for mixed choir” 6, which Reger planned for summer 1912 (and cannot be ascribed elsewhere) relate to this “Kaiserliederbuch”.

By July 1913 at the latest, the Commission presented the final 604 songs to the “experts”, so that Reger was able to begin his work during the summer holidays, which he spent in Kolberg.7 On 21 August he sent the head of the Commission Max Friedlaender “the 9 folk songs arranged by me for mixed choir. I can find nobody here who will write out the parts; therefore I must ask you to have the parts copied out.” (Letter) A little later Friedlaender must have assigned him three further songs, which Reger in turn sent back on 13 September (cf. letter).8.

“The very important decision about whether the harmonisations submitted were suitable to be accepted lay in the hands of a publishing commission formed by the gentlemen [Friedrich] Hegar, [Hermann] Kretzschmar, [Eusebius] Mandyczewski, and G[eorg] Schumann” 9. Reger was able to inform Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen of the results of the deliberation on 27 February 1914: “Today I received a terribly flattering letter, that my arrangements were so exemplary that I am going to be asked to arrange another great series. How times change – a few years ago they would have cringed with embarrassment in the Ministry in Berlin that I would be contributing to this collection.” 10

About two weeks later Reger must have received five manuscripts back (in WoO VI/26 then nos. 1–5) where the Commission required some action to be taken. In a letter to the text editor Johannes Bolte, he reacted extremely sensitively to the suggestions for alteration, largely intended to achieve simplification: “As it is impossible for me to share the views of the estimable Editorial Board of the Commission for the Volksliederbuch […], I hereby withdraw from my involvement.” At the same time he regretted not to be able to arrange the 6 new songs which Herr Geheimrath [Privy Councillor] Dr Friedlaender sent me”. (Letter dated 16 March 1914) He requested Friedlaender in turn “to kindly take the trouble that my arrangements (manuscripts) still in the possession of the Commission are sent back to me immediately, as I will under no circumstances allow even one of my folk song arrangements to be published in this new collection” (letter dated 21 March 1914).

Friedlaender’s attempt to calm matters failed, Reger remained obstinate: “I very much regret […] to have to stand by my point of view […]. The Commission […] has objected to the following passages in my arrangements: 1.) ‘Auswandererlied’ a harmonic sequence (tonic, 2nd dominant, dominant); you find this harmonic sequence in the 1st measure of Schubert’s song ‘Litanei’ (composed in August 1818, that is 100 years ago). 2.) In ‘Prinz Eugen, der edle Ritter’ the Commission suggests to me having the tenor and bass sing unisono in places; this suggestion absolutely contradicts my ideas of a real, four-part choral setting. 3.) The Commission suggests I alter the division of measures in the song ‘Lob der Freundschaft’, which I also cannot come to terms with. Please, compare it with the edition of German folk songs by Brahms. 4.) In ‘Rheinweinlied’ the Commission made a suggestion for alteration to me which would lead to really nasty part-writing;11 the passage would also sound really bad.” (Reger’s letter dated 22 March) Friedlaender must have subsequently persuaded the Commission to withdraw their requests for alterations, whereupon Reger also admitted to some mistakes: “Many thanks for your kind letter; the ‘misunderstanding’ is therefore rectified. Enclosed you will find the manuscripts retained by me; in the song ‘Untreue’ [no. 5] I have improved the incorrect passage with red notes; […]. In Prinz Eugen, der edle Ritter [no. 3], the passage has also been improved. In both these cases the Commission was right; these were oversights on my part. Otherwise the choral pieces must be printed as I have written them.” (Reger’s letter dated 25 March)

It is unclear whether Reger saw all the sets of proofs. After his breakdown in Hagen on 28 February 1914 he was ordered to take a three-month period of rest, “in order to cure my badly wrecked nerves; I am forbidden from any kind of work; therefore with the best will in the world, I cannot check the sets of proofs of my 12 arrangements for the Kaiserliederbuch”. (Ibid.) However, the preparation of works for print seems to have taken some time, so that he was able to be involved in the proof-reading process later on. But the surviving correspondence with Friedlaender only records his checking through eight songs: on 25 November 1914 Reger returned the proofs of four songs and asked for “the remaining 4 songs to be sent to me as soon as possible. From the beginning of January I am travelling a great deal, & because of this it could easily be that you will then have to wait a considerable time for the other 4 songs!” (Letter) Reger then sent these last songs on 24 March 1915 to Berlin (cf. letter). The Volksliederbuch für gemischten Chor (in two volumes) was presumably published in October 1915 by C.F. Peters.


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

Volksliederbuch für gemischten Chor, Leipzig 1915, Introduction by Max Friedlaender, pp. V and XVI.
Ibid., pp. X and XVII. – The Commission included Johannes Bolte, Max Friedlaender, Friedrich Gernsheim, Friedrich Hegar, Engelbert Humperdinck, Arno Kleffel, Hugo Leichtentritt, Eusebius Mandyczewski, Siegfried Ochs, Adolf Sandberger, Eberhard Schwickerath, and others, and the arrangers included Volkmar Andreae, Otto Barblan, Leo Blech, Max Bruch, Georg Göhler, Siegmund von Hausegger, Arnold Mendelssohn, Hans Pfitzner, Hugo Riemann, Julius Röntgen, Philipp Scharwenka, Max von Schillings, Gustav Schreck, Hermann Suter, Philipp Wolfrum, and others.
Volksliederbuch für gemischten Chor, Leipzig 1915, Introduction by Max Friedlaender, S. XVII.
Entwurf für das Volksliederbuch für gemischten Chor, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munich, shelf number: 4° Mus. Th. 427, inner title folio.
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Signatur: 4° Mus. Th. 427, S. 74.
Letter dated 29 June 1912 to Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen, in Herzog-Briefe, pp. 270–272, here: p. 272.
On 23 August Elsa Reger sent one of several appeals for help to Fritz Stein: “Please come as soon as you can, so that my husband will then take more walks. He works from 9–12, then bathes & eats, works again from 2–6; often he does not even allow himself an hour of relaxation from 6–7 in the evening, he works again from 8–11 at night. […] Where is this going to lead, if he so overstrains his poor brain? […] Today it is so beautiful & he sits on the veranda & works madly” (letter).
In the manuscripts of the later nos. 2, 9, and 11 the song texts were entered by Fritz Stein, who visited Kolberg from 8 September (see above). With the first nine songs, these must therefore have been nos. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 12, in which Elsa Reger entered the texts to relieve her husband of this task.
Volksliederbuch für gemischten Chor, Leipzig 1915, Introduction by Max Friedlaender, S. XVIII.
Herzog-Briefe, p. 570f., here: p. 571. – Moreover “the composers had arranged the pieces to date without royalty as a matter of honor, whereas I immediately demanded and also received an appropriate royalty”.
See presumably measure 14%LINK%, alto.

1. Reception

The reception of the Volksliederbuch was inevitably caught up in contemporary events: “Now the result of many years’ peaceful work falls in the midst of the World War, right now the German people is receiving a present from the Emperor which will have the effect of creating something free of the worries of external events. We have had the opportunity to observe how, in the most serious time of the last year, the need for German song was expressed with ever-more longing, we know that the soldier sang his way through the most difficult hours of farewell, whilst for those left behind, consolation and joyful courage arose in song, and so the Kaiserliches Volksliederbuch comes at exactly the right moment to once again bring the German people a priceless national treasure.” (Review by Katharina Schurzmann in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik) Not only was “the cultural significance of this venture” praised, as “the treasures of our folk songs are in danger of being lost, or at least gradually seriously withering away” (review by Georg Kaiser in the Neue Musik-Zeitung), but also that with “the new settings […] consideration has been given to the requirements of larger choral societies as well as smaller organizations, and to family groups” (review in the Vorarlberger Volksblatt).

Despite all the praise the publication received, Friedrich Brandes wrote: “There is debate about details in some of the arrangements of the true folk songs” (review in Deutscher Wille). Georg Kaiser took the same line in the Neue Musik-Zeitung and lamented that some composers had “produced some really strange arrangements, notably Reger, who believes in being able to apply some kind of chromatic trick to the middle parts everywhere. Occasionally harmonisations are created in the setting of the best-known folk songs, which must seem affected and strange to people used to simplicity.” In addition he raised the “very serious question […] of copyright in the arrangements. Would it not be best to make the whole book free of copyright, as befits a folk song book with this cultural aim? Would it not have been possible to pay people such as Schillings and Reger […] from some fund and then to receive the arrangements from them free of charge? As Reger at any rate does not take longer than an hour over such a piece of work, the expense would probably not be so important; also, there is no compulsion to use those musicians who want to have their contribution of arrangements to the folk song book protected.” (Review)


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

1. Quellenbewertung

Der Edition liegt als Leitquelle der Erstdruck zugrunde. Als weitere Quellen wurden die gedruckten Stimmen, die erhaltenen autographen Stichvorlagen sowie die von fremder Hand erstellte Stichvorlage der Stimmen von Nr. 3 herangezogen.

2. Sources

  • Stichvorlagen
  • Erstdruck Partitur und Stimmen

Weiterlesen in der RWA

Object reference

Max Reger: Twelve Choruses from the Volksliederbuch WoO VI/26, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 10th December 2022.


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