The Organ

Max Reger and Karl Straube

Perspectives on an Organ Performing Tradition
Christopher Anderson
ISBN 0 7546 3075 7

This is a stupendous book. It is 434 pages of highest-quality research and scholarship, presented in a very readable way. The printing is of the best standard, too. The work concentrates on the fascinating relationship between Reger, the composer, and Straube, the artist and teacher and the 'central authority for the interpretation of Reger's organ music.' A series of detailed appendices, figures and tables complement the main body of the text. The appendices in particular provide a wealth of material relating to organ performance in Germany in the first part of the 20th century.

The main body of the book, meanwhile, charts the growing relationship between the two men from 1898 until the composer's death in 1916 and then looks in turn at Straube's interpretation of the music and his editorship of it. Interesting tensions begin to emerge: on the one hand we have Straube's championship of Reger's ultra-Romantic music, but on the other his growing interest in, and sympathy for the Baroque organ movement - the antithesis of the organ-building style which underpinned Reger's compositions. The work concludes with a discussion of German organ performing traditions and the extent to which a national school emerged in the 20th century. This book is a must for all serious students of organ composition and performance, both generally and in relation to the Germanic-Romantic tradition.

David Baker