Reger is considered by many to be the most important composer to elaborate on the stylistic traits of Johannes Brahms and move German music into the twentieth century.
He was an extremely prolific composer, surpassing many of the ninetheenth century masters in volume during his short life. He was also a driven man, consumed by hard living. Reger composed in most every form of the time, except opera and the symphony proper. His style is contrapuntally dense, with extremely fast modulations lending an atonal feel to many of his lines, though the music remains strictly tonal in its harmonic direction. He was one of the main composers to resuscitate the fugue as a living, independent form. His organ music is considered by many to be second only to Johann Sebastian Bach's in depth and significance. This, along with much of his output, requires a large degree of virtuosity. His orchestral writing is virtually opaque in color – some would say turgid – having something of the feel of organ registrations, though it lightens with age. Even in his concertos, he often draws upon Protestant hymns as thematic material. His large volume of chamber music is perhaps his most significant contribution to the concert repertory. This part of his output contains some of the largest and most emotionally draining music in its genre. ~ Todd McComb (6/94)