Eugen Jochum - Central Website (Revised)

Max Reger: An die Hoffnung

Reger: An die Hoffnung

In the archives of the Dutch Broadcasting Companies, many treasures still lie hidden for the general public. Recordings with Otto Klemperer, Willem Mengelberg, Pierre Monteux, Eduard van Beinum, Bruno Walter and (of course) Eugen Jochum.

One such hidden treasure is also one of the most beautiful performances I ever attended: Glenda Maurice's and Eugen Jochum's interpretation of "An die Hoffnung", written by Max Reger in 1912 and published as his opus 124. The discrepancy between this and the preceding Opus (Konzert im Alten Stil, Opus 123) is enormous: Max Reger had undergone the irresistable influence of Claude Decussy's impressionism in music, while conducting his and other's works with the Hofkapelle in Meiningen. Max Reger writes, what is in my opinion, his most beautiful music on the (slightly modified) text of Friedrich Hölderlin.

Glenda Maurice made her first appearance in The Netherlands with these concerts, and how glorious she fills the hall of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with her voice, subtly catching Reger's impressionism as laid down in this music. And how subtle, how irresistable, how delicate, how refined, how sensible, how beautiful is the playing of the Concertgebouw Orkest in this masterpiece of Max Reger conducted by their long acknowledged master: Eugen Jochum.

In a kind letter written by Prof. Glenda Maurice to me, she wrote about some of her memories about this memorable concert-performance.

About Max Reger she writes: "... the thrill of singing a major work by Max Reger with orchestra cannot be described totally. He is so impassioned a musician, and so singer-friendly. I can only wish that I had more opportunity to perform such creative and emotion-filled music."

Of the performance together with Eugen Jochum she recalls: "... Eugen Jochum and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, Max Reger and my first time to sing in Europe! Was I scared? Lord, yes. I was standing on a stage where every major singer and conductor, and even composers had stood before me. I had to live up to that legacy. It was a make or break moment. Fortunately, I had my wits about me. The orchestra was welcoming. But Meastro Jochum wa totally mentoring. He immediately dubbed me Die Gnädige Frau, and spoke with me in German (much of which I did not understand). But, he supported me to a succesful performance. He was of a school of conductors who truly empathized with the music they performed. I shall never forget him orr the moment."

That this very orchestral song of Max Reger was chosen as a debut for Glenda Maurice is something of a miracle, as it was a rare experience to hear a performance of Reger's music in Holland in those days (70s, 80s). According to Eugen Jochum himself, it was even more difficult to conduct Reger in Germany (Interview with Preludium, October 1984, page 16).
Earlier, in the Max Reger-year 1973, in an interview with Fono Forum (November 1972) Eugen Jochum made extensive comments about the possibility to conduct orchestral works of Max Reger. I cite this part of the interview here in German:

[...]; vor allem aber möchte er brennend gerne eines der großen Orchesterwerke Max Regers für die Schallplatte dirigieren. "Aber wenn ich den Sinfonischen Prolog oder die Serenade vorschlage, dann kriegen sie alle lange Nasen", meint er bevor der "offizielle" Teil des Interviews zu allgemeinen Fragen des Musiklebens überschwenkt. "Ich bin ein bißchen traurig darüber, denn ich meine daß Regers Zeit gekommen ist und daß sich 1973 aus Anlaß seines 100. Geburtstags eine günstige Gelegenheit böte, dieses Kapitel ernsthaft in Angriff zu nehmen. Denn es ist ja phantastisch, was dieser Mann allles gemacht hat. Es ist so gekonnt, und er stieß mit seiner Musik in echtes Neuland vor. Diese farbliche Palette zum Beispiel in seinen langsamen Variationen... Und diese Musik soll heute nicht "gehen"? Dann wird er höchste Zeit, daß sie bekannt gemacht wird. Was ich tun kann, um die Kenntnis Regers zu befördern, das werde ich tun."

It is an unfortunate and fortunate circumstance alike that recordings of only two (2!) works of Max Reger conducted by Eugen Jochum have been preserved. Unfortunate because his interpretations of the Romantische, Böcklin and Ballett-Suites and the Hiller-Variationen would have enriched the Max Reger-repertoire with invaluable performances. Fortunately, we have at least these recordings: as should be clear by now I am lyrical about Eugen Jochums 1980 performance of "An die Hoffnung".

The program of the 1980 concert in Amsterdam held next to Max Reger also an impressive Weber's "Oberon" ouverture and a very refined performance of Bruckner's 6th Symphony. Both have been released by Tahra.

Unfortunately, the existing Reger recording has not been issued yet. This performance of Max Reger's "An die Hoffnung" belongs to a unique part of the European heritage of music. It should be carefully preserved and issued, so that anyone who wants to, can listen to it.

Back to Eugen Jochum - Activities in Amsterdam - 6: November 1980

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