Whereas the period 1890–1914 (between Bismarck’s dismissal and the outbreak of the Great War) has long been framed as a relatively static episode in Second-Empire Germany, recent historiography has recognized here a nation still struggling to define its identity in the arenas of politics and culture. Since the Reformation at latest, the peculiar dynamic of German history assured that the Catholic-Protestant divide, too, would inform questions of Germanness. Owing to the Kulturkampf policies of the 1870s alongside persistent pressures of modernization and urbanization, a complex negotiation of confession imbued the German experience during the years around 1900. These circumstances open potentially new perspectives on the musical project of Max Reger, a composer who insisted on his Catholic identity even as he aggressively embraced Protestant frames of reference for both his composing and his carefully curated image. The array of motivations behind a pivotal work like Reger’s Choralfantasie “Ein feste Burg” op. 27, as well as that work’s first reception in Wesel, a city of mixed confession in the Niederrhein region, are newly considered here.
Speaker bios: Christopher Anderson is a scholar and organist with interests in early musical modernism, German history and philosophy, the organ’s position in Western culture, and the composer Max Reger. He has written extensively on Reger and his music in two monographs (Max Reger and Karl Straube: Perspectives on an Organ Performing Tradition, Ashgate 2003; and Selected Writings of Max Reger, Routledge 2006) and many journal essays. He has translated into English the second volume of Jon Laukvik’s Historical Performance Practice in Organ Playing (Carus, 2010) and edited the first complete survey of organ music in the twentieth century (Twentieth-Century Organ Music, Routledge 2011). An exhaustive critical biography of the twentieth-century virtuoso organist and Leipzig Thomaskantor Karl Straube (Karl Straube 1873–1950: Germany’s Master Organist in Turbulent Times) appeared in 2022 with the Eastman Studies in Music, University of Rochester Press.
Christopher Anderson is Associate Professor of Sacred Music at Southern Methodist University, Dallas (TX), where he teaches courses in history and analysis in the Perkins School of Theology and the Meadows School of the Arts. He has taught adjunctively at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester (NY), and chairs the Publications Advisory Committee for the Organ Historical Society’s publishing program. Christopher Anderson holds the PhD in Performance Practices from Duke University.