Münchner Stadtbibliothek, Musikbibliothek


The Requiem op. 144b was one of six manuscripts of sheet music offered for sale by the widow of Max Reger (1873-1916), Elsa Reger (1870-1951), to the Musikbibliothek in 1938. After some hesitation, the city council agreed to the purchase and acquired the autograph for 3,000 Reichsmark at that time. The Requiem sets a poem of the same name by the playwright Friedrich Hebbel (1813-1863) to music, which is dedicated to "The memory of the German heroes who died in the war of 1914/15" and is also called Hebbel-Requiem. In a letter to his publisher Simrock in 1915, Reger stated that the work was "[...] one of the most beautiful things I have ever written". The Requiem is not on a grand scale - as it was originally planned - but in about a quarter of an hour it consolidates the existential and spiritual tensions of its creator. In spite of its progressive form and of working with stylistic devices of musical alienation, the work creates an unexpected intimacy and closeness to its audience. The autograph contains Reger's typical instructions for dynamics, tempo changes, accentuation and phrasing with red ink, which form a clear contrast to the notes of the sheet music recorded with black ink.