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