Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (born 17 March 1839, in Vaduz, in Liechtenstein – died 25 November 1901, in Munich) was a German organist and composer, born in Liechtenstein. Josef Gabriel Rheinberger, who was the son of the Prince of Liechtenstein's treasurer, showed exceptional musical talent at an early age. At the age of only seven Rheinberger became organist at Vaduz Parish Church, and his first composition was performed the following year. In 1851, his father, who had initially been resistant to his son's desire to pursue a musical career, allowed him to enter the Munich Conservatory, where he later became professor of piano and subsequently professor of composition. When the Munich Conservatorium was dissolved he was appointed répétiteur at the Court Theatre, from which he resigned in 1867. Rheinberger married his former pupil, the poetess and socialite Franziska von Hoffnaass (eight years his senior) in 1867. Though the couple would remain childless, their marriage was happy. Franziska wrote the texts for much of her husband's vocal work.
Rheinberger's influences ranged from contemporaries such as Johannes Brahms to composers from earlier times, such as Franz Schubert and Johann Sebastian Bach. He was also influenced by painting and literature (especially English and German). Rheinberger was a prolific composer. His religious works include twelve masses (one for double chorus, three for four voices a cappella, three for women's voices and organ, two for men's voices and one with orchestra), a requiem, and a Stabat Mater. His other works include several operas, symphonies, chamber music, and choral works. Today he is remembered almost exclusively for his elaborate and challenging organ compositions; these include two concertos, 20 sonatas in 20 different keys (of a projected set of 24 sonatas in all the keys), 22 trios, 12 Meditations, 24 fughettos, and 36 solo pieces. His organ sonatas were once declared to be undoubtedly the most valuable addition to organ music since the time of Mendelssohn. They are characterized by a happy blending of the modern romantic spirit with masterly counterpoint and dignified organ style.
Rheinberger died in 1901, and was buried in the Alter Südfriedhof in Munich. During World War II, his grave was destroyed, and his remains were moved to his hometown of Vaduz in 1950. Thank you Merja for this nice maxicard.