Max Reger

Reger was born in Brand, Bavaria on March 19, 1873, and grew up in Weiden. He studied organ and violin with his father, and piano with his mother. At 11, he began studies with organist Adalbert Lindner. In 1888, Reger traveled to Bayreuth and heard performances of Wagner's Parsifal and Die Meistersinger. The experience had a lasting effect on him, the harmonies and sounds of the latter opera profoundly affecting his musical psyche. In 1890, he began studies in Wiesbaden with Hugo Riemann and soon produced his Violin Sonata No. 1, Op. 1

After an unpleasant experience in the military that affected his physical and mental health, he returned to his parents' Weiden home to recuperate. During this period, he produced his chorale fantasia Ein Feste Burg is Unser Gott, and his Fantasy & Fugue in C minor. Reger also earned a reputation as a brilliant pianist at this time, playing many concerts of wide-ranging repertoire, including his own works.

In 1902 Reger married Elsa von Bercken, and in 1907 he accepted a teaching position at the Leipzig University. In 1911, Reger was appointed conductor of the Meiningen Court Orchestra by Duke George II. He continued appearing as a pianist and always found time to compose. In February, 1914, he suffered a breakdown from troubles in his Meiningen post and eventually resigned. By September 1914, he had finished his Eight Sacred Songs and the Patriotic Overture for orchestra. In March 1915, the composer and his family settled in Jena, where he completed his Sonata No. 9 for violin and piano, declaring it his greatest work in the genre, and the first in his so-called "Jena style." During a trip to Holland in May, 1916, Reger died of a heart attack.