Part of a veritable Bach-Kult deeply affecting musical life in Wilhelmine Germany, fin de sièècle constructs of Bach, as exemplified by merous contributions to the 1905/1906 Bach-Umfrage of the journal Die Musik, declared the composer the fons et origo of progress and a miraculous healerof cultural decay. Bach, however,acquired a progressive modernist image that became inextricably intertwined with Wagner's to form a dialectic alliance ridden with great anxieties. In response to what Reger himself identified as the problem of "Wagneritis" ——a pathological "misunderstanding" of Wagner afflicting many of his contemporaries and threatening even his own compositional development——Op. 46 presented a more salutary image of the Romantic composer. As an imaginative synthesis counterbalancing Wagner's presence with Bachian qualities, Op. 46 appropriates crucial aspects of Tristan's musical language, conflating them with a ubiquitous theme that consists of Bach's musically represented name. In the final apotheosis of Op. 46, a boastful reference to the dying hero of Strauss's Death and Transfiguration celebrates Reger's heroic victory over Wagnerian degeneration and hails a new era of cultural progress and health.
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