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Rheinberger, Joseph (Gabriel)

Rheinberger, Joseph (Gabriel)

Rheinberger, Joseph (Gabriel) , eminent German organist, conductor, composer, and pedagogue; b. Vaduz, Liechtenstein, March 17, 1839; d. Munich, Nov. 25, 1901. He played piano and organ as a child, then took regular lessons in organ with J.G. Herzog, piano with J.E. Leonhard, and composition with J.H. Maier at the Munich Cons.; subsequently studied composition with Franz Lachner. From 1864 to 1877 he served as principal conductor of the Munich Choral Soc; was named Hofkapellmeister in 1877. In 1859 he succeeded his teacher Leonhard as prof. of piano at the Munich Cons., and also taught composition there. His loyalty to the cultural and musical institutions in Munich earned him many honors from the Bavarian government; King Ludwig II made him Knight of St. Michael; in 1894 he was given the rank of “Zivilverdienstorden,” the equivalent of nobility; in 1899 he was made Dr. Phil. honoris causa by the Univ. of Munich. Rheinberger’s reputation as a teacher of organ was without equal during his lifetime; students flocked to him from all parts of the world. As a composer, he created a number of works remarkable for their dignity, formal perfection, and consummate technical mastery, if not their inventive power. His organ sonatas are unquestionably among the finest productions of organ literature. See H.-J. Irmen, Joseph Rheinberger: Thematisches Verzeichnis seiner Kompositionen (Regensburg, 1975).

Works

DRAMATIC: Die sieben Raben, romantic opera (Munich, 1869); Des Türmers Töchterlein, comic opera (Munich, 1873); incidental music. ORCH. : 2 syms.; 2 organ concertos; Piano Concerto; other orch. works. CHAMBER : 3 string quartets; 2 violin sonatas; Cello Sonata; 4 piano sonatas and other piano music. VOCAL : Masses; 3 Requiems; cantatas; motets; hymns; sacred songs; secular choral works and songs.

Bibliography

P. Molitor, J. R. und seine Kompositionen für Aie Orgel (Leipzig, 1904); T. Kroyer, J. R. (Regensburg, 1916); H. Grace, The Organ Works of R. (London, 1925); H.-J. Irmen, J. R. als Antipode des Cäcilanistnus (Regensburg, 1970); H. Wagner and H.-J. Irmen, eds., J.G. R.: Briefe und Dokumente seines Leben (Vaduz, 1982); F.-G. Rössler, Die ostinaten Werke f. R.s: Studie zur Formkonzeption eines romantischen Klassizisten (Augsburg, 1994); W. Weyer, Die Orgelwerke J. R.s: Ein Handbuch für Organisten (Wilhelmshaven, 1994).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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