Leicht ausführbare Kompositionen zum gottesdienstlichen Gebrauch op. 61

Six Mourning Songs op. 61g

Funeral Songs for mixed voice unaccompanied choir

Content
Creation
Status
Dedication

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

Original work
  • -
Versions
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1.

Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. II/8: Werke für gemischten Chor a cappella I, S. 154–158.
Herausgeber Alexander Becker, Christopher Grafschmidt, Stefan König, Stefanie Steiner-Grage.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlagsnummer: CV 52.815.
Erscheinungsdatum Juni 2018.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2018 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.815.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-18831-3.
ISBN 978-3-89948-302-4.

No. 1


Category
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unknown

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Annotations

No. 2


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No. 3


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Used for comparison purposes in RWA: [Wie sie so sanft ruh’n…], in: Erk’s Deutscher Liederschatz. Eine Auswahl der beliebtesten Volks-, Vaterlands-, Soldaten-, Jäger- und Studenten-Lieder für eine Singstimme mit Pianofortebegleitung, vol. 1, ed. by Ludwig Erk, Leipzig [o. J.], p. 262.

Copy shown in RWA: DE, Karlsruhe, Max-Reger-Institut/Elsa-Reger-Stiftung.


Annotations

Note: Erstausgabe unbekannt. Teilweise Übereinstimmung (Anfang der 1. und Schluss der 2. Strophe) mit August Cornelius Stockmann (1751–1821), “Der Gottesacker”.
Erschienen in: ders., Leipziger Musenalmanach auf das Jahr 1780, Leipzig, S. 214 (laut Ludwig Erk, Neue Sammlung deutscher Volkslieder, Berlin 1844, S. 95).


No. 4


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unknown

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No. 5


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Copy shown in RWA: DE, Karlsruhe, Max-Reger-Institut/Elsa-Reger-Stiftung.


Annotations

Note: 1. Strophe, 4. Zeile: bei Sauppe “Da ruht er aus” statt “schläft”. 3. Strophe, 4. Zeile: bei Sauppe “Steht hier das Herz” statt “nun”.


No. 6


Category
Text template
First edition
unknown

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Annotations

1. Composition and Publication

Following on in a sense from the collection Der evangelische Kirchenchor. Vierzig leicht ausführbare Gesänge zu allen Festen etc. WoO VI/17, and after he had completed the Twelve Pieces for organ op. 59, which at any rate included four sacred pieces, Reger turned to the composition of further Leicht ausführbare Kompositionen zum gottesdienstlichen Gebrauche, probably in July 1901. And with this, he explicitly turned to the Catholic denomination this time.1

He announced a corresponding larger Catholic collection to Josef Loritz with the words: “[…] I am going to write – (and don’t fall over) a few Tantum ergo’s & Marian Songs” (letter dated 24 June 1901). According to Adalbert Lindner Reger composed the collection “at the special request of the owner of the publisher R. Linnemann”, and the pieces were “really so, as they should be according to the commission of the customer, or publisher, that is easy to perform, suitable for the practical requirements of less able Catholic church choirs”.2 Such a commission cannot be deduced from Reger’s surviving correspondence with Linnemann particularly since no details survive of the compositional process. Only Lindner reported that Reger had “written his Opus 61 a, b, c, d, e, f, g in summer 1901, & in Weiden, not in Munich. He was not very enthusiastic about the pieces, & particularly with the 16 Tantum ergos [op. 61a, b, c], he was happy that he had finished them.” (Postcard by Lindner from 5 September 1937 to Fritz Stein)

Reger responded to a request from Richard Linnemann on 20 November 1901: “I have at present completed for choir: […] 38 songs, which are the simplest & easiest imaginable and entirely suited to church use in the Catholic church; the choruses have just the right length & would certainly sell in great quantity, as the music is very simple & religious; the organ accompaniment is kept as simple as possible throughout, so that even the most unpractised organist can play the same without trouble. […] as a royalty, I would suggest a total of 300 M (three hundred marks) to you; they are only original compositions. The things must, however, be published at the end of February, so that they can still be sung this coming May at the May devotions (the Marian Songs)!” (Letter)

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Composition · Publication · Early reception

2.

Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.


1
The additional subtitle “in der katholischen Kirche” was indeed omitted in the printed version at the suggestion of the publisher Richard Linnemann (C.F.W. Siegel’s Musikalienhandlung) (letter by Reger dated 26 February 1902 to Linnemann), but appeared in the later publisher’s brochure (1903).
2
Lindner 1938, p. 306.

1. The catalogue of the Cäcilienverein
Reviews

An important step for Reger in the success of his Leicht ausführbare Kompositionen zum gottesdienstlichen Gebrauche op. 61 was their inclusion in the Cäcilienvereins-Katalog, whose recommendations carried a certain weight in the circles of Catholic church musicians. Following the rejection of the choral work Maria, Himmelsfreud WoO VI/12 for recommendation (see WoO VI/12 – Early reception), Opus 61 found a more favorable reception from General President Franz Xaver Haberl (see below, review in Musica sacra), and so on 29 May 1902 Reger sent him “my most grateful thanks for the kind review of my op 61 which greatly pleased me […] combined with my most humble plea that you take care that my op 61 will soon be included in the catalog of the Cäcilienverein” (letter). But writing to Richard Linnemann, he could not resist taking a sideswipe at Haberl: “[…] if you consider the petty, completely antiquated point of view of this gentleman, who watches over like a hawk, so that no free spirit stirs in the Cäcilienverein, then you will and must probably be very content with this review; for with this review the door and gateway is now opened for op 61!” (Letter dated 30 May)

Shortly afterwards Reger thanked Linnemann “for kindly sending the copies [of Opus 61] to the gentlemen assessors” (Postcard dated 6 June 1902), but enquired of Haberl on 15 August “whether my op 61 has already been included in the catalog of the Cäcilienverein & when the reports on them will appear” (letter), and finally he reported to his publisher on 22 September: “I have just received the news that my Op 61 has officially been included in the catalog of the Cäcilienverein & that the double number (No 9 & 10) of the Cäcilienverein publication has just featured a 4-page long article on op 61; […] I am very pleased to be able to let you know this, & the way for op 61 is now clear through its inclusion in the catalog.” (Letter)

In publications linked with the church, the reviewers, as expected, had stricter standards than their secular colleagues, but did not arrive at any less positive judgements. In Musica sacra, Franz Xaver Haberl who, although he was not held in high regard by Reger was courted for strategic reasons, stated that the Tantum ergo compositions had “a definite individual character”. However with regard to “average choirs”, despite Reger’s “assurance that they were ‘easily performable’” he emphasized “the unexpected, the surprising, and the often rather too rapid harmonic sequences”. He criticized a couple of passages – which Reger dismissed to his publisher as completely irrelevant” (letter dated 30 May 1902) – but ultimately recommended performance to “those choirs which have a great need for Eucharistic texts, and have singers who are secure, rhythmically accurate, and follow the conductor compliantly, for not a single one of the numbers, composed with great seriousness and powerful talent is ordinary, unsuitable, or unworthy” (review). With the Marian Songs Haberl recognized “that the composer, with his rich harmonies and imagination, carefully avoided any sentimentality, droning melodies and the so-called folksy Marian Songs tonality”, but criticized Opus 61f no. 1 (“Es klingt durch Wald und Feld und Auen”) as “almost too pastoral in style for May devotions” and emphasized with regard to all the Marian Songs and Mourning Songs: “The assessor does not want as a matter of principle to criticize the out-of-the-ordinary, indeed unusual harmonic sounds and cadences, but believes they must be mentioned in order to not drive choirs mad which are not looking for highly challenging material with new kinds of chords and intervals which cannot be sung effortlessly.” (Review) The assessors who decided on the inclusion of works in the Cäcilienvereins-Katalog, based on strict criteria, followed Haberl. Hermann Müller also reinforced his criticism of Opus 61f no. 1: “Text and rhythm and organ accompaniment do not commend this number for performance in church” (review). The co-assessor Johann Georg Mayer even added the “explicit statement”, that his overall positive assessment “for [Opus 61f] no. 1 only applies if it is sung in a place of worship without the accompaniment provided. Tone-painting, such as the imitation of pealing bells by the organ (see measures 3–16), is never ever appropriate in a church” (ibid.).

With op. 61e the assessor Müller assumed that “these songs will sound splendid with the melodious sounds and flow of their melodies and the stylish framework provided by the organ accompaniment” (ibid.). Nevertheless the organ part was also critically received. Writing about the same work, his colleague Mayer found: “In the four-part writing of the accompaniment the composer’s efforts to steer in entirely new directions are evident. He almost completely refrained from having the upper voice in the organ part doubling the upper vocal part, and gave preference to writing a quite different melody for the instrument, mainly above the vocal cantilena almost throughout. The accomplished composer went out to shape each voice in the homophonically-written organ part as melodically as possible by using the full range of the chords. In so doing, he seems to have aspired less to support the singers and much more to an impressive sonority” (ibid.). Similar applies to op. 61f.

The alternative scoring indications for the Marian Songs op. 61e met with less understanding from Hermann Müller: “They were evidently originally intended for 2 upper voices; and I can hardly believe that the note on the title page ‘or Tenor and Bass’ came from the composer.” (ibid.)

In the periodical Die Sängerhalle published by C.F.W. Siegel’s Musikalienhandlung, Carl Kipke found Opus 61 to be entirely suitable for church use: “Even the most impassioned Cecilian will not be able to raise any justified objections against the strict church-like character and the true religious means of expression of these mainly very short compositions; but, in all the simplicity of the pieces the musician will enjoy the captivating, expert compositional style revealing the outstanding harmonist, and the uniformly noble style of invention, avoiding all platitudes. The composer probably expresses himself most subjectively, and therefore most directly, in the warmly-felt Marian Songs” (review). Several reviewers stressed the agreeable simplicity of the composition, for example Ernst Günther in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik: “Reger has forced himself to write simply. And he has managed to do this without resorting to well-worn clichés. […] Without being particularly quirky in terms of invention, the individual pieces match their purpose of being used in worship services really well.” (Review)

2.

Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

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 Stichvorlage herangezogen.

3. Sources

  • Stichvorlage
  • Erstdruck Partitur und Stimmen
Object reference

Max Reger: Six Mourning Songs op. 61g, in: Reger-Werkausgabe, www.reger-werkausgabe.de/mri_work_01106.html, last check: 13th July 2024.

Information

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