Max Reger – Mastership and Appropriation

Dear friends,

in last News I spoke about Reger’s op. 59 for organ. The recording you heard I realized at the historical Seifert organ in Koblenz with its marvellous stops, which give the correct colours for Reger’s musical poems.

This collection of ‘Charakterstücke’ by Reger marks a moment of great importance for our composer, still a rather young author in the field of modern organ composition of those times. Working very hard, Reger reached a high level in projecting and realizing large compositions for organ. Using a so modern and revolutionary musical language, which never existed in earlier times. And so difficult to play it! Most of organists did’nt believe, that one can realize it.

But the consequences for the editors?

Which editor was crazy enough to presume, there are organists, who buy such compositions? But such publishers, they existed. “Melomanes”, enjoyed to promote young genious musicians, to push modern art, to be a little adventurous, economy a part. And so Reger found the ‘little’ publishers as “Forberg”, “Aibl” or “Lauterbach und Kuhn” for his ‘extreme’ opp. 40, 46, 52, 57.

And now we see: one of the most important, famous and very ‘traditional’ editions, the “Edition C. F. Peters”, came to a deal with Max Reger – not without strict conditions: Reger had to agree writing a collection of short organ pieces, not too difficult to play, accessible for ‘normal’ organists: the naissance of Regers op. 59!

The success: overwhelming. Reger arrived in the fine society of established composers, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, included famous editors as C. Czerny, Fr. K. Griepenkerl.

And this idea by C. F. Peters initiated Regers further collections of such short pieces, the opp. 65, 80 and 85.

Here two impressions of “Intermezzo” from op. 80:

One can consider, this piece is rather moderate, but in any case we hear Reger speaking his own charming language.

Another gem from op. 80 I present here, “Gigue”. My colleague Martin Weyer in his compendium “Die Orgelwerke Max Regers” asks “where are the organists, who play this ‘Kabinettsstückchen'”? Andreas Arand plays it here:

We are embarrased by Regers ideas. The view back to the times of Bach and Händel don’t produce a simple copy of the old dance, but Reger composed a sophisticated Trio for organ. Only the rhythm provoke a delicate reminiscence, music lets appear Bach and Händel in the famous old paintings…, but very far in earlier times. And what a fine articulation, a delicate task for touching the organ!

These collections in genre ‘Charakterstück” were so successful, that Reger continued writing similar collections. One among them we find in op. 129, “Neun Stücke für die Orgel”. The number 5 named “Capriccio” is a very surprising organ piece. The whole monothematic composition presents a motorical mouvement. What’s surprising? Regers idea is a permanent Ritardando. Starting fast the tempo is reduced in permanence, combined with a Diminuendo in permanence, a very strange impression, very modern in Reger’s times, unique!

In German tradition during 20th century the judgement  about these collections by Reger is less favourite. Concert organists focussed upon the masters “big” operas like opp. 46, 52, 57, 60, 73, 127. In order to earn reputation. We must regret this neglecting practice, I think. I cannot see, that Reger is not so engaged in his collections. To judge so, I mean, is a neo-classical reflex.

The three short examples given here underline the very outstanding level of Reger’s collections. I never understood, why, all over the world, organists fail so often to present to their listeners these splendid pieces. Each audition containing some of them whould be an eminent enrichment in organ music. How many other compositions in organ recitals show much less good taste! Never I will stop to regret this lack (except in case of Reger’s presence in each organ recital). It’s no doubt, that many of these fantastic “Charakterstücke” is accessible for each organ player. And for newcomers in organ audition it’s profitable to enter in Reger’s world in a such agreeable manner.

Occasionally some words about my recordings. Most of them I made by myself. I first used traditional German equipment, later some digital componends, too. Position of the microphones is very important. In this matter I have my own philosophy. Clear and distinct reproduction of articulation of organ pipes (“Ansprache der Pfeifen”) is first priority. Because this is one of the main mediums in interpretation of organ music.

Therefore it’s my opinion, that microphones have to be positioned so near, that this effect is observed. I know, many organ recordings are made in contrast with this demand. Many producers intend a mystic effect and reproduce the acoustics of the (big) church. But missing clearness of articulation is boring to hear: you are buffled to understand the performance. Except, the matter is simple music. But Reger’s organ works belong to this category?

My experience: it is not easy to realize a good position of microphones in churches. Often we must find a compromise. I hope you like my solutions.

Let’s continue in Reger’s organ works.

The nimbus of Reger, of course, is based on the famous “great” and “big” compositions for organ.

Let’s have a look on the masters development in organ music. In the period of op. 59 and op. 80 Reger is more interested in chamber and symphonic compositions. It was Karl Straube, who provoke the creation of the two so important large organ works of Reger in this time: op. 73 and op. 127, both dedicated to Straube and for his own purpose! A part of these singular organ works his activity in organ music is minimal.

But at the end of Reger’s (too short) life time the composer comes out for a final coup: “Phantasie und Fuge d-Moll” op. 135b, published one year after Reger’s death. Dedicated  to “Meister Richard Strauß” (n.b!). A master piece comme il faut! The reason for this composition is rather mysterious. There are no indications, neither by the author, nor by the publisher. I presume, the answer will be the dedication. But there is no evidence.

I’m very glad to present this incomparable organ piece here. In light bright colours and in cascade manner broken cords fall down to arrive in a pool of harmonies. Suddenly we hear a sort of Lamento in dark colours. But soon a fountain of running movement, skips, trills brings back the initial atmosphere. What a beginning, so surprising, so attractive, so concentrated! Indeed very contrasting with other large organ works by the “servere” Reger.

In second decade of 20th century Reger reached a new stage of style. Among the earlier compositions for organ by him we find the genre “Phantasie und Fuge”. Since Bach it’s used very often in the repertoire of german organists. But we saw, Reger in most cases prefers a ‘Cantus prius factus’, a melody given before, a ‘Choral’ or ‘BACH’ (op.46) for example. In op. 135b Reger avoid it. All thematic material is free invented by the composer, perhaps a sign of sovereignity. It’s very evident, that Reger intended an important work. Although the duration is moderate, Reger is very ambitious. Contrasting sequences in the “Phantasie”, a very artistical double fugue. There is no doubt: Reger figures among the great german composers of his time.

The whole piece shows us a new aspect of the composers development. The contrast between quick passages and calm sections dominate the beginning, a four-tone motif becomes important as thematic basement. For me the beginning is lightness, an atmosphere of a summer day. And I enjoy the omnipresent D-Major sound. And even all chromatism seems to be peaceful. Three times change occurs. The first just in the 5th bar, we heard the beautiful solo flute singing it’s Lamento. A second interruption, very different, brings a polyphonic structure, beginning in deep position, but ascending fast in order to fall down till ‘ppp’. Follows a single bar “Piu Adagio”, we are displaced in another world: diatonic sequences of thirds above, based by a deep ‘point d’orgue’. A short moment. I like this wonderful idea, underlining it by the ‘Vox coelestis’. A very special colour among organ stops. I refuse current using of this string stop, it’s not good taste, but often to hear.

You heard, it’s only a little interruption in our summer day, perhaps a small dark cloud or a quick view into a deep wild valley? But Reger is Reger. He guides us higher and higher. Before reaching the summit a moment of consternation: a single cord in ‘ppp’, i.e. the third interruption.

This real breath-taking effect leads the listener to the end (Reprise), the overwhelming panorama. Far off the lovely valley of the beginning. Around us the rocky mountains of cords, above us the brillant sun of the D-Major-tonality. A top moment in organ music!

After this outstanding “Phantasie”, you can imagine, that Reger is successful in the following fugue? Each composer must solve the problem to find a good proportion between “Phantasie” and “Fuge”. In op. 135b the task is very hard, indeed, after this “Phantasie”.

Our composer decided to write a fugue with two subjects, both of his own invention. That’s to remark, because in several other fugues by Reger one subject is a pre-existed melody. No one will be surprised, that the two subjects are contrasting with one another. Here the beginning of the first one:

This subject and its development seams very simple, but for me it’s extraordinary: appearing in crotchets eleven tones of the octave form the subject in dodecaphonic manner. Only one tone is missed (B), one tone is doubled (D). It is clear, Reger never wrote dodecaphonic music, but the idea to use all chromatic degrees is very important in Reger’s life time.

It’s so wounderful, this subject, its relaxed character, a sort of peaceful aura, neither boring construction, nor sentimentalism. The development of this first fugue voice by voice proves Reger’s ability and skill to invent polyphonic structures without any schoolmaster attitude. Triumph of craftsmanship! You agree?

Let’s come back to the organ. I very admire Reger’s raffinesse in disposing stops and manuals in order to produce a convincing crescendo. You see, our master knew specific organ technics.

The second subject underline the high level of this op. 135b. Aspects of lightness and free and careless movement in “Phantasie” come back now. The fine and delightful articulation indicated by Reger shows us his intention to avoid servere character presenting clarity and variety.

The idea of large climax demonstrated in “Phantasie” we can see also in the development of the double fugue. The very logical manner in combining the two subjects belong to tradition, but Reger’s elaboration in this case cannot be admired enough. The two subjects sound perfectly together, the various constellations are extremly charming. And it seems, to prepare understanding the complication by the simultaneity of both the composer demands reducing of the tempo.

Step by step voices are added, subjects appear in extrem positions more and more, the sound is growing continuously. This process is propeled only by these two subjects, ending with a large point d’orgue in D-Major tonality. This ending excel the “Phantasie”, a real apotheosis by the whole majesty of organ sound.

The organ I used in this life recording is constructed in the sixties of last century. In spite of neo-classical times its sonority shows traditional aspects, very profitable for Reger’s works. You see, romantic tradition never disappeared totaly in Germany.  However, in case of such instruments the interpreter must be successful in choosing the good stops for Reger’s music.

What a good luck, that Reger – just before his death —  gave us this op. 135b! Unique!

Concerning ‘Edition Peters’:

1915 op. 135b was published by edition “Simrock”. But in 1928 Peters became owner of Simrock shop, until today. So twelve years after the composer’s death they could add at least one large composition for organ by Reger to their catalog. Only one, but one of Reger’s most successful ones!

I very hope you like it.

Best greetings!

Andreas Arand

Max Reger – the master of variation

Dear friends,

last news appeared since more than one year, but sorry, too many tasks stopped all activities to continue our expedition in the world of Max Regers organ works. I hope, you understand it.


In last news I began to present organ works by Reger played at historical instruments in Germany. Now I will continue.


Let’s begin now recalling the special situation for organists playing a historical organ. Organists have a big chance with their old instruments. Such organs are installed in their original location. In the same church, at the same place in the church, where the organ builder created the sound, exactly adapted to the sound conditions of the building. What a chance for good interpretation of relating epoch in organ in music!


Dear friends of the organ, to realize this chance, you need the simple imagination, that musicians today in most cases play in modern rooms. Material, construction, architectonic conception, all this represents the spirit of  o u r  time, not favorable to develop emotion corresponding to the past. Especially ensembles for ancient music depend upon industrial production. In our time industrial production of music has an important influence, modern electronic equipment  allows to create any desired sound, where-ever musicians played. Sound ingenieurs don’t like to remove for historical locations. They prefer the studio, prepared for all purpose: symphonic or chamber music, soloists or singers, choirs etc.. And digital electronic equipment add the suitable  accoustics! It’s very easy to understand, that the style of interpretation is influenced by this daily experience. Concerning historical music played with historic instruments that’s fatal, because this modern circumstances don’t have good effect for the manner of playing old instruments. But music of the past is expression of the past, not expression of our time.The percentage of historic concert halls or rooms is unimportant and a lot of time musicians today have to play in recording studios with extreme technical ambiente. Poor people indeed! Organists with their original locations are favored! The old building and the old instrument guide to find good interpretation.


Now there is no alternative, I go to present Reger music, recently recorded at the same splended authentic organ as at the end of last news.


Reger and variation!

A connection like Faust and Mephisto! The two sides of the same medal. Reger admired old german organ music, studied it meticulous, transformed it in his own musical language, his own ideas. His ideas, there is no comparison with other composers. In last news I presented Choral preludes and parts of the “Phantasie” about ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme’. Theses pieces are based on a pre-existant melodie, varied by a composer. In all periods of music you find variations. But Reger, indeed, is one of the greatest master in variation.


So, the venerable genre of Passcaglia fascinated him, too. The Basso obstinato, the “never ending” repetition of the same theme in the bass, the voices above forming variations, one after another; the old masters Muffat, Buxtehude and others gave examples of highest level. And Bach! His genius add the fugue as apotheose. And – incredible! – the idea to start with the theme alone played by the pedals. A great moment in history of music indeed!

Reger composed several Passacaglias for organ, in op. 63, very fine, and the splendid one in op. 127. But there is a remarkable one in ‘Introduction und Passacaglia’ d-Moll, o. Op., in spite Reger not signated it with an opus number.

Created to help for the project of a new organ in the Rhine region, this task for the “routinier” Reger did not pose any problem. Result? Perfect proportions, stuped effect, technical difficulties limited. And good to understand for listeners without special experience. In fact, a truly Reger, not too sophisticated, not too modern, good for a real hit in organ music.


Here the beginning of Passacaglia. Attention! The bass stops in Reger time are big, sonorous, fundamental. And Reger begins with the Pedal alone, how his idol Bach. The first variation start in mystical sonority, very far, molto delicato. And you will see, movement becames quicker: quavers, quaver triplets, semiquavers. The first five variations are polyphonic constructions, each presents new ideas, but the sequence rests a homogeneous evolution.:



Variation 6 change to homophony, continuing until the end. Variation 8 surprises, because Reger presents, as counterpoint to the regular bass theme, a new Passacaglia theme in Soprano. Apart from the crazy idea to introduce a second theme in Passacaglia rhythm that’s ingenius in balancing the proportions: 5 variations in polyphonic style, 2 variations in homophonic style, variation 8 polyphonic (two themes as counterpoint) succeded by four variations in homophony enriched with figurative passages, altogether 12 variations. The dynamic level continual growes from ppp to ff with each variation. Now variations 7 to 10:



Before I tell some observations concering the end of Passacaglia first it follows the ‘Introduction’. In real Reger style you hear solemn harmonies by the full organ contrasting the two manuals and forming an impressive preparing and concentration for the Passacaglia theme, following immediately.



The last variation for me it is something like an “éclat triomphale”. The severe d minor turn over in the bright D major. A last time one can hear the Passacaglia bass by the full organ, now combined with the reprise of Introduction theme at the end. A wonderful framework for a real master piece by Max Reger.


Take pleasure in listening this marvellous music!




Have a good time!


Andreas Arand

Max Reger and the Protestant Choral


Dear Friends!



Since last News UNESCO declared organ building and organ playing in Germany as World Heritage!


You can imagine, organ builders and organists in our country are very proud and all music friends too. And the enthousiasts and amateurs of the organ and the organ music all over the world participate in this joy. In Germany there are more than 50.000 organs in use, there are ca. 400 workshops with about 2.800 people. The number of professional organists is about 3.500. They all feel now very estimated. And we can hope, that’s a good help for protection of the art of organ building and organ playing in all countries where exist organ tradition.


Now let’s continue with Max Reger and his organ compositions. In last news I spoke about his op. 59 containing some pieces with religous reminiscences. In that case it was catholic tradition (gregorianic themes), and Regers origins are catholic ones. But protestant tradition became very important for him, too. During his childhood in Weiden the church of this town was used by Catholics and Protestants. Reformation in 16th century introduced the popular songs in German („Kirchenlied“ or „Choral“), that means melodies much more simple in comparison with the rather sophisticated gregorianic songs. They became very popular and their musical structure offers – until today – an unlimited inspiration to invent all sorts of variation. And Regers talent as composer at first is the talent to variate a musical theme, whatever it is.


So you can understand, that we possess several collections of Choral Preludes created by Reger, i.e. organ solos about these melodies (opp. 67, 79b, 135a). Regers intention to limit the difficulties for the player is very obvious: these pieces are possible for diletante players too! The following example brings the choral “Morgenglanz der Ewigkeit” in the right hand as c.f., the accompaniment is rather simple in spite of polyphonic movement and cromaticism:


Indeed, the effect is a special religious emotion. Slow tempo and soft stops represent the style of liturgical music in 19th century in Germany. But Regers capacity surmount all concurrents with his unique Espressivo: an extremly personal style.


Please remark the outstanding rank for the cantus firmus here: Clarinette 8’, “durchschlagend” (“anche libre”), original pipes from the beginning of 20th century. That’s a soft reed-stop with smooth articulation. It belongs to the Klais-Stahlhuth-Organ in Bonn, you heard this instrument in older news. We very must regret, that ranks like his disappeard so often in times of neo-classicism. Here you have the chance to hear the authentic sound of the year 1914.


A second example for the esthetic conception in organ building of those times in Germany you find in “Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende” (op. 79b). The c.f. in soprano is realized by several flutes, among them the marvellous “Harmonieflöte 8’” (Flute harmonique), which gives a big, full sound in the ‘forte’ parts of the c.f.. The great art of harmonisation developed by the organ builders in late 19th century in Germany is like a miracle: ascending notes in the c.f. give a crescendo effect without swell (!) and at the same time growing espressivo! Today no one achieve this high level in organ building.

In this kind of Choral preludes Reger refused a registration of the c.f. in contrast to the other voices in the left hand, for example Sesquialter or strong reed stops. He intended the effect of the modern Piano or String Quartett: main voices should be distinguished by dynamic, not by colour. Judge yourself!


The character of Choral Preludes – of course – had to be determined by the text: “Morgenglanz der Ewigkeit” is a lyric evocation of the eternal God, so I choosed the Clarinette 8’ to have a correspondence to the image of ‘Glanz’, a sort of fine luminosity. The Choral “Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende” brings the reflexion of mortality, here the dark and melancholic sound of the flutes is dominating.


Third example: festivity and confidence in the power of God, the creator. Here christians thank their God for his creationship. Corresponding to this theme full organ is used. Polyphonic style and the whole range of sound combined with permanent Crescendo give the splended effect of Thanksgiving. And Reger is able to realize it with a rather simple composition. Great, isn’t it?



But Reger is Reger: ambitious. The protestant Choral serves to his genius  projecting a new kind of organ composition in big measure, never realized before: the ‘Choralphantasie’. Reger studied extensivly the old german tradition of variations about a Choral. Samuel Scheidt, Franz Tunder, Dieterich Buxtehude, Johann Pachelbel and … Johann Sebastian Bach. And he combined with it the very modern “Symphonische Dichtung”, i.e. Symphonic Poem. Melodie and text here become a poetic idea, which is realized by Reger with all fine colours of modern instrumentation, inspired by modern orchestra.


I you present the famous “Phantasie über den Choral ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme‘“ op. 52, 2. In the beginning the poetic idea is the atmosphere of a cimetery, which provokes special emotions of the listeners. The peaceful situation is interrupted by a catastrophic flash of lightening and thunder, immediately followed by returning to the first quietnes: one of the most impressive inventions of Max Reger.


After that dark sounds return, you hear dissonant and dark harmonies, undefined bass notes create anxiety, diminuendo til ppp and then the change: in the pedals, played with the two feed, the simple clear fifth, followed by a lovely innocent flute, the beginning of the Choral “Wachet auf”, a real consolation. Indeed the voice of the other world. The apocalyptic picture of the earlier world is not the last word, human beeings are’nt lost! Nevertheless the two worlds continue to fight against one another.

What an incredible power of inspiration, where you find something to compare it with that idea?


Not simple to imagine, how Reger is capable to continue conserving the same high level. His disposition: 3 movements for the 3 verses of the Choral.


First movement:

Development of each melody section in various kinds of variation, c.f. in soprano, tenor and bass.


Second movement:

Adagio, presenting a solo espressivo in the right hand.


Third movement:

Fugue with Allegro theme. It shows big dimensions and Reger demonstrate his mastership in counterpoint style by adding the Choral melody to the theme step by step: bass, tenor, soprano. A climax never to top!


Here some extracts:


First and second movement:



Third movement:



You heard: what Reger promises in the introduction, he fulfills in the following sections, a perfect proportion between the 3 movements, a firework of musical ideas. And finally the climax of the ecstatic conclusion: full organ, Choral in Soprano.


You don’t agree? Impossible!


In all tracks you heard the Klais-Stahlhuth-Organ of Maria-Magdalena in Bonn. In spite of its limited resources of ranks  and some regretable modifications in modern times it sounds very authentic in Regers works, representing the ideas of the epoch, rare in our time.


And now – as a modest compensation for long waiting – I you present a “Schmankerl”, a sort of Encore, belonging to our theme in this news.

Another Choral Prelude composed by Max Reger:
‘Christus, der ist mein Leben’ (op. 79b). That’s a very recent recording, a rarissime document. This organ date from 1913 and in opposition to the preceding instrument never renovated. Chests, pneumatic, console, all (!) pipes, these elements never leaved their place. And the lovely church, never modificated too, conserved the original acoustics. Made by a great organ builder, so you can hear his marvellous tuning, a cosmos of sound never possible today, we make a real “Zeitreise”, we omit more than 100 years!



And to show you the range of colours and nuances in this outstanding instrument here some bars of Regers fine Toccata from op. 129, last example for the genius Reger here. I very hope you like it.




Good by for next News!







Reger’s op. 59 Second Volume

Hallo, dear Reger enthousiasts,

hallo, dear organ enthousiasts,


some friends said to me, why you don’t present any videos showing your organ playing? Indeed, in this homepage you only find information by words and reproduction of my interpretations to hear. Mouvies, videos, pictures, designs you easy find it in internet. Narrative manner is my passion, to tell some reflexions, experiences, knowledge accumulated in many years. And, certainly much more efficient, music played by myself hoping you like it. I don’t like videos with artists in music (there are few exceptions). Very often I feel sorry for musicians in motion-picture, camera near. And the special seat of the organist with his pedal playing and all these technical features around him: which advance one can expect for the listeners concentration in music?

Let’s return to music itself, to Reger and his op. 59.


The second volume of these 12 pieces surprises in evoking religious music. Four pieces reflect roman-catholic tradition in organ music: Kyrie, Gloria, Benedictus, Te Deum. In Gloria (No. 8) and Te Deum (No. 12) Reger uses well-known liturgical melodies. In catholic mass the priest intonate „Gloria in excelsis deo“. You hear this melody first in soprano in homophonic style. In the following parts it appears in multiple constellations.


‘Benedictus’ follows, the absolute contrast to ‘Gloria’. Extremely lyrical, I feel lovely, smooth, indeed a moment of highest imagination of Reger and… the dearling of listeners since the appearence in 1901.

What a melodic passion! But a sort of „unendliche Melodie“ (infinite melody). All caracteristics of romantic melody is abandoned: no periodic structure, motives, phrases, cadences are placed without any symmetry like a prose speech. All this a very innovation. On the other side the significant reflex of tradition: ‘Benedictus’ in catholic masses ever is a lyrical piece (Haydn, Mozart, Dvorak etc.). The text „Benedictus in nomine domini“ is followed by „Hosanna in excelsis“ in Allegro movement. And indeed, after the first lyrical part Reger continues with an Allegro-fugue and one can sing the theme with the words „Hosanna in excelsis“! N.B. the text is not indicated in the score.

That’s Reger: revolution and tradition forming a new kind of music.


It’s evident. One can say, Reger’s op. 59 is a collection of character-pieces („Charakterstücke“), a sort of compositions frequently used in 19th. century (Mendelssohn, Schumann, Grieg), especially in Piano-literature. In the same time one can say, Reger’s op. 59 is a sort of „livre d’orgue“, collections composed by Grigny, Couperin, Clérambault etc. (17th and 18th century). The same genre is Frescobaldi’s ‘Fiori musicali’. You see, Reger is orientated in the precious heritage in order to transform it in modern music of 1901.


For further exemple now ‘Kyrie’ (No. 7). The first section is dominated by a theme in reminiscence of the famous Luther Choral „Aus tiefer Not“. The meaning of the text is the same as ‘kyrie’ in Greek. Reger presents a large development formed by a continuous crescendo followed by a continuous diminuendo. This realised by using as medium the melodic (arising/falling), rhythmic (slow to fast to slow) and dynamic (piano-forte-piano) aspect. It follows an intermedium section with a contrasting theme.


But instead to repeat the first section in tradition of 19th century Reger begins a disputation of the two themes, which remains until the end without returning to the earlier sections. A very extraordinary modern conception proving Regers outstanding qualities as composer. I let you hear the end with the disputation of the two themes during a continuous diminuendo. In the last bars I use the Prinzipal 32′. Molto grandioso!


‘Te Deum’, the great Finale, sets the famous gregorian song (hymn of Ambrosius) in unisono with the fff organ, before the theme appears in the pedals, a real good task for the Posaune, the big read stop for bass function in the great organ sound. The expressive tension growes, the movement becomes quicker, the theme in soprano is followed by cords in fff , which give high emphasis, very adapted to the liturgical tradition.



This group of four pieces in the second volume of op.59 with it’s correspondence to catholic organ music tradition is opposed by two caracter pieces, placed between ‘Benedictus’ and ‘Te Deum’. That’s ‘Capriccio’ and the well-known ‘Melodia’. The title Melodia is very justified, because one hear a free invented, calm flowing melodie in phrases with very wide dimensions. Regers melodic conception is obviously unusual and extremely modern in the beginning of 20th century. And this melodic pearl requires the best colour in sound, here in Koblenz St. Josef it is the moment for the wounderfull Flaut major 8′ in the Great.


For each organist it’s rather delicate to play this composition. The reason is Max Regers own recording of it, the famous Welte roll. The question:  what’s to do: to try an imitation of Regers interpretation? To try an interpretation in emotional distance? I think: neither nor! I play my own interpretation, and I know, many details differ from the composers version. But we shall not leave this marvellous piece without hearing the fine end with his clear sounds of the vox coelestis:


At the end of our ‘tour d’horizon’ through Max Regers ‘Zwölf Stücke für die Orgel’ op. 59 a conclusing return to the religious pieces with the fugue in five voices about ‘Te Deum laudamus’ , the apotheose in this collection, realised by the splendid full sound of the Seifert organ in Koblenz St. Josef.


Many greatings!


Andreas Arand



The op. 59 “Zwölf Stücke für die Orgel” composed by Max Reger

In one of the last news I presented extracts of my Reger recordings. Now I add recordings realized during last year 2016 (commemoration of the100th death of Max Reger). Since a long time I projected the integral interpretation of op. 59 „Zwölf Stücke für die Orgel“ (12 Organ pieces). It’s very crazy: these 12 organ pieces are the most famous and the most played among all of Regers organ works, but I myself never performed them completly in a recital! Indeed: interpretation of the large Reger pieces (opp. 46, 52, 57, 73 etc.) brings more prestige for the organists, the small pieces are estimated as less good composed and easy to play. But that’s not the truth. Claim and difficulties here are the same, only the size is a little modest.


You must hear the fine and extremly various character of these pearles in organ music.


Let’s begin with Pastorale (N0 2). High taste and raffinement. The reminiscence of old tradition of italian pastoral music: siciliano rhythm, third and sixth parallels, homophony, simple cords. But combined with real Reger style: extrem chromatism and – n.b! – polyphonic independance of the 3 voices, a total contrast to the old pastorale style! Effect: stupendous (my opinion).

Intermezzo (No. 3) : light, quick, full of fantasy (part 1). Subito another world: smooth, mysterious, long harmonies, the rhythmic drive suspended, static against moved (part 2). The last word however speaks the first character (part 3). Here the extract starting at the end of part1:

The most famous and most popular composition in op. 59, Heft 1 (volume 1) that’s Toccata (No. 5). A hightlight of inspiration, a moment of exaltation in organ music. Success guaranted! Isn’t it so? Here the beginning:

I intended to present this op. 59 here in a form of little excerpt. Those listeners without experience in Regers music so is given a sort of quintessence of this outstanding music.


A word about the organ used here. In earlier news I explained the very important condition in interpretation concerning an instrument in stylistic manner of the contemporary organ in Reger time. That doesn’t means, that’s impossible to play Regers works with modern instruments. On the contrary! It’s better to play Reger as to avoid it. But, it’s evident, listeners can understand the musical language of Reger much better with the fundus of stops and technical features corresponding with the intention of the composer. And you must know: in contrast with Franz Liszt, Arnold Schoenberg or Paul Hindemith Reger indeed was very familar with all aspects of organ playing.

I realized my recording of op. 59 with a very outstanding instrument in the famous city of Koblenz, town situated near the well-known castles alongside the Rhine river. Most people much more know the monumental ‘man on the horse’ (our old emperor Wilhelm der Erste, „der Große“) than the fantastic Seifert organ in St. Josef church. It possesses a lot of old and very fine characteristic stops dated from the early 20. century. Their very individual and surprising sound is perfectly adapted to the expressive and sensitive compositions of our op. 59.

Among them absolutly rare: the Prinzipal 32′ (open diapason 32′) consisting in pipes with real length, until the deepest tone C, the biggest pipe is 11 m! And it’s rather a miracle, that one can use it combined with ppp stops. Max Reger would have admired it. Hear it in No 10 Capriccio (pp-section). I’m sure you like it. Listen to the extract here:

For the actif organists among you I point at the fact, that I realized this recording without any help of other persons, completly by myself: registration, score handling, crescendo etc.. I try to do so in any case (the violinist or the oboist do ever so), but in the case of a real historic organ help by a second person is necessary from time to time.


And to end this news, I add the final part of No. 5 Toccata:

To be continued!



Andreas Arand

S e v e n centuries classical organ music

Dear friends of classical organ music,

the pipe organ continues to be a very fascinosum among musical instruments. And you can see a continuous change in its esthetic standards in past, today and – I believe – in future too. The violin, the piano, horn, guitar, flute and most of other instruments reached a certain definitive level in construction. But pipe organs in all centuries are unique personalities, not produced in factories, but created by artists – or at least ‘handmade’, in German by the Handwerksmeister, a very traditionel kind of producing in Germany til our days. And if you read in any information “Andreas Arand is a german organist”, I can assure, I’m very proud to be a musician, who plays such marvellous instruments called organs.


And famous compositions have been created for the organ., this biggest and most expensive of the instruments. And moreover: none of any other instrument possesses such an enormous, very demanded repertoire from the 14th to the 21th century! In our region of Europe it is just one of the greatest artists in history of music, Philippe de Vitry, who opened the gate to europeen classical music in 14th century. He created the new style ‘Ars nova’, that means the condition, the prerequisite for the polyphonic style. It’s impossible to imagine Josquin des Prés, Bach, Beethoven, Reger, Schönberg without that achivement of the highest cultural standard in the age of “franko-flämische Schule’. All this happened in the same europeen region (northern France today), which created the gothic cathedrales! The two motets created by Philippe de Vitry are the earliest instrumental compositions in classical music, and they are created for the pipe organ, a so called ‘Orgeltabulatur’. And now a look at the other end of the development. I name John Cage and his composition ORGAN2/ASLSP, dedicated the german organist Gerd Zacher, and actually performed in the german town Halberstadt, a location with very old organ tradition.


S e v e n centuries classical music of the highest level!

For each organist it is an extremly attractive task – and urgent demand – to acquire and practice this splendid repertoire.

…and for the listeners get to know and to hear this music, realized in exemplary interpretations (I very hope it for you!).

Best greetings til next time!

Andreas Arand

The Straube Tradition

Dear visitors,

good news:

The art of german organ-playing” goes on!

And the year of Max Reger continues too!

I’m very happy with this year. Organists all over the world celebrated Reger’s works, me too, and – not least – public attention included.

I told you some facts about the ‘Straube Tradition’ concerning the interpretation of the organ-compositions written by Max Reger. In the period of my own studies in organ-playing those organists, have had lessons with Karl Straube, were still actif, and to assist their recitals and to alive their personality created a very emotional, direct and deep impression for the young guys, who just started to enter in the marvellous world of organ-playing. And you must consider: playing an instrument doesn’t means only a matter of spirit and emotion, but also matter of technique. To see and hear the manner of techical realization of Regers scores by them wasn’t nothing else than stupendous! The Straube Tradition created possibitilies to realize Regers works with instruments of different styles.

You must know, that the style in organ-building in Germany changed in the epoque of Regers death. Starting with the end of world-war I the aesthetics of the german organ begun to adapt features of 17th and 18th century. Straube and his tradition tried to find techniques to realize the compositions of Reger with this new generation of modern instruments. And indeed you can discuss about details of their measures, but there is no doubt, that it was realized with deep knowledge about the caracteristics of Regers works. It’s our task to decide, which detail we accept and which detail we refuse. But the very emotional relation of these outstanding personalities in organ-playing is the most precious factor in this tradition. And it’s my opinion, that Regers organ-works are so important, that they should played on organs all over the world, whatever the style of the different organs may be.

The Welte-rolls as source for Reger-Playing

Dear visitors,

in the recent news I told you some facts about interpretation of Max Regers organ works, about several important questions for the interpreter to reach a good realization of these really difficult compositions – difficult in comparison with many other organ works in international repertoire.

A part of the question of the suitable instrument it is a central problem to understand the very special notation used by Reger. Each newcomer among organists is very astonished in front of these “black” pages, overcharged by all sorts of signs, indications, remarks – often in double and triple manner. And first it seems absolutly impossible to play all notes: the human creature only is equiped with ten fingers and two feed. How to play these Rocky Mountains of cords, this labyrinth in counterpoint with numberless voices? But piano, piano! It’s possible. Indeed: under condition to work hard.

The basis is: understanding”What means Reger?” And the composer knews these problems of the executing musician. And therefore he intended to create a tradition of Reger playing. That’s the very reason for his own excessive appearing on stage: demonstration, what means the score. We must deeply regret the lack of Reger recordings on grammophone discs, caused by his early death in 1916.

But in spite of this reality we are so fortunate to hear Regers own organ playing. The Welte brothers in Freiburg i. Br. (Germany) before world war I invented a brillant pneumatic system of recording: the “Welte-Philharmonie-Orgel”. With this system they were abled to realize the true fixing of individual organ playing (paper rolls). The reproduction is done by a real pipe organ. The Welte brothers invited Max Reger to come to Freiburg in 1913 and to play some of his compositions for the “Welte-Philharmonie-Orgel”. And so – after more than a hundred years – we can hear “Reger plays Reger”! And among these recordings figure ‘Benedictus’ and ‘Melodia’ from op. 59! These Reger recordings are extremely interesting for each Reger player and a deep impression for each enthousiast of the music of Max Reger.

From 07. to 10. 05. 2017 in Freiburg will take place a congress organized by the ‘Gesellschaft der Orgelfreunde’. The theme is “Tunes on rolls for the world”. During this congress participants will hear Max Regers organ playing at the Welte organ in the “Museum für Musikautomaten Seewen SO” (CH). For active organists I will give a seminar about interpretation under the aspect of Welte recordings not only of Max Reger, but also of Alfred Sittard, Marco Enrico Bossi, Eugen Gigout, Marcel Dupré etc..

Best greetings!

Andreas Arand