Max Reger’s Fantasie and Fuga in D-moll, Op. 135b (1915): Viewing its Genesis Through the Lens of World War I”

Mina Choi

Tuesday, June 21, 10:30 AM

Reger’s artistic contributions during the first year of World War I are explicitly exemplified in his two "patriotic compositions," - Eine Vaterländische Ouvertüre Op.140 (September 1914) and Requiem (December 1914), which were both dedicated to the German army. While turning his attention to composing "patriotic" compositions, Reger also envisioned constructing "ein neues großes Orgelwerk (a new "great" organ work)" in D minor, which is in the same key as in his Requiem for the dead soldiers. Though Op. 135b has received substantial scholarly attention in regards to its collaborative editorship with Karl Straube and its use of progressive tonalities, researchers to some degree have failed to take consequential note of the work’s socio-political connections directly relating to the wartime context. In particular, a series of revisions of Reger and Straube that silenced Reger’s imaginary world of "destructive war" has only left some general assumptions regarding the extent to which Straube influenced the genesis of Op.135b. By re-contexualizing Reger’s Op. 135b along with other War compositions, there emerge new possible assertions concerning the genesis of this work. Defining Reger’s aesthetic ideals under the repressive social conditions along with his personal unprecedented crisis during this period is a complicated task; yet, Reger’s last organ work Fantasie and Fuga in D minor, Op. 135b calls for broader interpretation to re-assert the issues relating to its aesthetics and performance practice through the lens of a socio-political context.

Mina Choi is currently a doctoral candidate in Organ and Harpsichord, with a cognate in Historical Musicology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Raised in Dallas, Choi has earned a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degree and various research opportunities from prestigious institutions worldwide: Royal College of Music (UK), Yale University, Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Stuttgart (Germany), Conservatorium van Amsterdam, andPrinceton Theological Seminary. Additionally, she has received numerous academic awards and competition prizes including First Prize Winner of Max Reger Organ Competition in Leeuwarden, Netherlands and Third Prize Winner of Franz Schmidt International Organ Competition in Austria.