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Wilhelm Berger

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Wilhelm Reinhard Berger (9 August 1861 - 16 January 1911) was a German composer, pianist and conductor.
Berger's father, originally a merchant from Bremen, worked in Boston (where Berger was born) as a music shopkeeper and made a name for himself as an author after the family had returned to Bremen in 1862. Early on, his son showed signs of musical interest and aptitude. By the time of his first concert, age fourteen, Wilhelm had already composed a large number of songs and works for the piano. Between 1878 and 1884, Berger studied at the Royal Conservatory in Berlin, under Ernst Rudorff (piano) and Friedrich Kiel (counterpoint). From 1888 to 1903, he was a teacher at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory, a function which he combined, from 1899, with the chief conductorship of the Berlin Musical Society. In addition, he was very active as a concert pianist. In 1903, Berger was made a member of the German Royal Academy of Arts, and in the same year he was appointed 'Hofkapellmeister' in Meiningen as successor of Fritz Steinbach. In 1911 he died at Jena, aged 49, due to complications after a stomach operation.
Like most of the composers from the circle of the 'Berlin Academics', Berger developed a great mastery of music theory. Stylistically, his music is very close to that of Johannes Brahms, even though it almost hints at the later works of Max Reger (who was to become Berger's successor as Meiningen Kapellmeister) through its preference for dissonant harmony and counterpoint techniques.
Berger was a prolific composer - his oeuvre numbers well over a hundred works. The Piano Quintet, Op. 95, the Second Symphony and the late compositions for choir are generally considered to be his masterpieces. Long after his death, his work was rated very highly, particularly among musical conservatives. Wilhelm Altmann wrote very positively about Berger in the third volume of his influential Manual for String Quartet Players (Handbuch für Streichquartettspieler).
(all recorded 2006, Berlin)
RISM online lists 157 (as of August 2016) manuscript/early print entries of works by Wilhelm Reinhard Berger, including an autograph of a different (fragmentary?) piano trio in G minor, a fragmentary cello sonata, a concertpiece for piano and orchestra in E minor, 71 kinderlieder, and other works, many of these in the library of the Max-Reger-Archiv, Meiningen.