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8.508009 - HAYDN, J.: Masses (Complete) (Trinity Choir, Rebel Baroque Orchestra, Burdick, Glover) (8 CD Box set)
Franz Joseph Haydn
‘Papa’ Haydn. The nickname has stuck for more than two centuries, and it tells us much about the man and the musician. People loved him. The name was coined by the staff who served under him at the court of Eszterháza, long before he was an old man. He looked after them. He had their interests at heart. He was one of them. But he was more; and they knew it. This humble, industrious, considerate man was a genius who did much to shape one age and influence another. ‘Paternal’ attributes clustered around him; to this day he is known as ‘the father of the symphony’, ‘the father of the string quartet’ and ‘the father of the classical sonata’. All these are over-simplifications—musical evolution is not so neat as human genealogy—but they are essentially justified. Haydn was astoundingly prolific. He was also astoundingly imaginative, aided by a powerful natural intellect and a curiosity that could leave no stone unturned. As a master musical craftsman, he has had few peers. As a creator and transformer of fertile themes he has had practically none. For Haydn, composition and development were often virtually synonymous. His most famous symphony is known as ‘The Surprise’ (because of its well-timed blast in the ears of slumbering ‘listeners’), but the name could be aptly applied to many of his compositions. He keeps us on our toes, wondering, guessing at what comes next, and delighting in his endless invention.
Born in Rohrau, Lower Austria on 31 March 1732, he was not particularly well educated and was even something of a slow developer in music. He was blessed, however, with a keen natural intelligence and an innate (and, in his boyhood, incorrigible) sense of mischief. This blossomed into a combination of wit and inspired humour that has resonated in his music ever since. For a genius, he had a remarkably equable temperament; and while traversing a very wide spiritual and emotional range, his music radiates good health and, for the most part, an inspiring optimism.
Yet the world into which Haydn was born, and in which he grew up, matured and died, bore little resemblance to the order, proportion and pervasive beauty of his music. It was a time of rampant, often violent change, beset by wars and bloody revolutions, none of which he witnessed at first hand until the two French invasions of Vienna towards the end of his life. He was well aware, however, of the tumultuous times in which he was destined to play a part. Both near and far, social distinctions and political hierarchies were undergoing unprecedented change, the structures of wealth and power which had separated the rulers from the ruled were crumbling, and the relationship of church and state was particularly tense, indeed volatile. Small wonder, then, that the musical form dominating the ‘Classical’ age of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven (i.e. sonata form, which they nurtured and brought to its highest state) was fundamentally based on the alternation of stability and flux, and the tension between two different key-centres. Small wonder, too, that sonata form, with its Utopian structure (culminating in the peaceful resolution of opposing forces), was an essentially Germanic phenomenon: compared to other countries, the rate of social, political and economic change in the lands controlled by the Habsburg dynasty was relatively slow and continuous, even peaceful.
In the early years of a new millennium we too find society, in many parts of the world, undergoing powerful and unprecedented changes. Musical tastes and customs are shifting. Classical music in parts of the West (though not the East) is increasingly being typed as ‘elitist’. Haydn, a man of the people, was no elitist. He is a composer who speaks straight to the heart of humanity.
The ‘father of the symphony’ and master of conversational wit in the string quartet, [Franz] Joseph Haydn is viewed today principally in the light of his instrumental music. According to his nineteenth-century biographer Georg August Griesinger, however, Haydn sometimes wondered if ‘instead of so many quartets, sonatas, and symphonies, he should have written more vocal music’[Note 1]. While our modern image of Haydn tends to neglect his vocal compositions, they comprise a large part of his oeuvre—and sacred music in particular played a unique role in his musical development. Haydn’s formative musical experiences were as a choirboy, and his first and last compositions were Mass settings. His Masses were popular during his lifetime, travelling to Catholic countries all along the Danube and making their way into concert halls after Breitkopf and Härtel published seven of them in the first part of the nineteenth century. Sacred music also figured prominently in the composer’s musical philosophy; in Haydn’s mind, compositional process and even artistic inspiration were indelibly linked to spirituality. Griesinger reports: ‘“If, when I am composing, things don’t go quite right,” I heard him say, “I walk up and down the room with my rosary in my hand, say several Aves, and then the ideas come again.”’[Note 2] While his instrumental music is clearly inspired, perhaps Haydn’s sacred music—in particular, his twelve complete and authenticated Mass settings—brings us closest to the source of his artistic inspiration.
Haydn showed vocal talent at an early age. Around 1740, the Kapellmeister at St Stephen’s in Vienna, Georg Reutter, recruited him as a choirboy. Haydn received a well-rounded musical education at the church, learning keyboard, violin and composition in addition to singing. In his autobiographical writings, Haydn gives a light-hearted description of his early attempts to compose: ‘I used to think then that it was all right if only the paper were pretty full. Reutter laughed at my immature output, at measures that no throat and no instrument could have executed, and he scolded me for composing in sixteen parts before I understood two-part setting.’[Note 3] Reutter’s instruction was predominantly practical in nature; although Haydn remembered only two formal lessons, Griesinger writes that ‘Reutter did encourage him to make whatever variations he liked on the motets and the Salves that he had to sing in church, and this practice early led him to ideas of his own, which Reutter corrected’[Note 4]. Haydn was forced to leave the school when his voice broke, and at the juncture of this important transition composed his first authenticated Mass, the Missa brevis in F major (1749). After leaving St Stephen’s, Haydn moved into the Michaelerhaus near St Michael’s Cathedral—coincidentally several floors above the famous librettist Metastasio. Through the poet he met the Italian composer Nicola Porpora, whom he credited with teaching him the Italian singing style and manner of composition. As Haydn said in 1766, ‘I wrote diligently, but not entirely correctly, until I had the good fortune to learn the true fundamentals of composition from the celebrated Porpora’[Note 5].
As with most composers of his era, Haydn’s musical output was closely linked to the needs of patrons. In 1761 he was hired as an assistant to the Esterházy court’s aging Kapellmeister Gregor Werner and was put in charge of all musical activities with the exception of sacred music, a responsibility that was added after Werner’s death in 1766. In spite of Prince Nicolaus Esterházy’s reported lack of interest in church music, Haydn composed a number of sacred works between 1766 and 1772 that showcase his facility with the various styles and traditions associated with Austrian church music, including the first Missa Cellensis (or Cäcilienmesse), the Stabat Mater, the Missa in honorem BVM (or Grosse Orgelsolomesse) and the Missa Sancti Nicolai (or Nikolaimesse). After the construction of an Italian opera house and marionette theatre at Eszterháza, the Prince’s new summer residence, Haydn transferred his focus from sacred to secular vocal music, composing only two Mass settings between 1772 and 1782: the Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo (or Kleine Orgelsolomesse) in the mid 1770s, and the second Missa Cellensis (the Mariazellermesse) in 1782.
With Prince Nicolaus’s preference for opera, his successor Prince Anton’s complete lack of interest in music, and the emperor Joseph II’s church music reforms of the 1780s all working against him, Haydn didn’t return to the Mass text for fourteen years. After Prince Anton’s death in 1794, however, the new prince, Nicolaus II, called his Kapellmeister back into service. Whereas Prince Nicolaus I had preferred the isolation of Eszterháza in Hungary, Nicolaus II enjoyed the more urban setting of Vienna, and Haydn stayed in the city until his death in 1809 (with the exception of summers, when he travelled with the Esterházy court to Eisenstadt). As part of his duties, Haydn was required to write a Mass each year to celebrate the nameday of Princess Marie Hermenegild, Nicolaus II’s wife, and between 1796 and 1802 Haydn composed six Masses in fulfilment of this responsibility: the Heiligmesse, Paukenmesse, Nelsonmesse, Theresienmesse, Schöpfungsmesse and Harmoniemesse. Haydn’s relationship with Nicolaus II was sometimes rocky, but the Princess was much friendlier than her notoriously difficult husband and reportedly made sure that Haydn’s favourite wine (Málaga) was served to him on a regular basis. While some of Haydn’s contemporaries criticised his late Masses as ‘too cheerful to be sacred’, their exuberance is perhaps due at least in part to his warm relationship with the Princess.
Haydn’s association with the Esterházy family may have provided the impetus for most of his Mass settings, but his ideas about faith in general gave them their unique spirit. Haydn’s biographer Griesinger writes of the composer’s approach to religion: ‘Altogether his devotion was not of a sort which is gloomy and forever in penance but rather cheerful, reconciled, trusting—and in this mould his church music, too, is composed.’[Note 6] This optimistic quality caused a certain amount of consternation, particularly in regard to Haydn’s late Masses. According to Haydn’s student Sigismund Neukomm, some maligned the works for their ‘more elegant and less ecclesiastical style’[Note 7]. Albert Christoph Dies, another contemporary biographer, commented that some listeners found Haydn’s lively tempos and frequent use of waltz-like metres more suitable for the dance hall than the church, while the theatrical arias ‘with their exaggeratedly sensual and superficial performances... can very easily banish devotion but can never awaken it’[Note 8]. As these criticisms illustrate, listeners had particular expectations when it came to sacred music, and Haydn’s settings depend upon an intimate acquaintance with these established Viennese traditions. At the same time that the works illustrate his fluency with the vernacular of sacred music, however, the Masses display an inspiration and an originality that belong to Haydn alone.
Together with the Missa Cellensis, the Stabat Mater (1767) was one of the first sacred works Haydn composed in his new position as Kapellmeister of the Esterházy court. Used in the liturgy on Good Friday and the Feast of the Seven Sorrows, the medieval sequence had previously inspired famous settings by Pergolesi (1732) and Domenico Scarlatti (c. 1715–19), and Haydn may even have sung Palestrina’s Stabat Mater as a choirboy at St Stephen’s. In the chapel at the Esterházy palace, Haydn’s predecessor Werner had established a tradition of performing Grabmusik (‘grave music’) on Good Friday, and Haydn may have written his Stabat Mater in an effort to continue the custom. If the work began as a product of local culture, it quickly transcended these boundaries. Haydn sent the work to Hasse, ‘in case, here and there, I had not expressed adequately words of such great importance, this lack could be rectified by a master so successful in all forms of music’[Note 9]. Hasse responded—perhaps just as Haydn had hoped—by inviting him to perform the work in Vienna, which he did in March 1768 at the Barmherzige Brüder. The Stabat Mater ultimately became Haydn’s most popular sacred work, circulating widely during his lifetime in Catholic countries such as France, Italy and Spain, and even in Protestant countries such as Holland and North Germany.
As Haydn makes clear, musically expressing the poetry was foremost in his mind while composing the Stabat Mater, and this emphasis is audible throughout the piece. With its first-person description of Mary’s vast range of emotions during the Crucifixion, the poignant text is full of opportunities for bringing feelings to life, and Haydn accomplishes this over the course of the work’s fourteen movements with a wide variety of musical strategies. Over half the movements are slow and nearly half are in minor keys, offering little respite from the unrelentingly doleful mood. Haydn also uses a large-scale tonal scheme that relates to the work’s predominantly melancholy sentiment: after beginning in G minor, he moves deliberately through a number of keys that in many cases are related by a descending third (the same melodic gesture used throughout the piece to depict tears or weeping), finally arriving at the key of G major to evoke ‘Paradisi gloria’ (‘the glory of Paradise’).
Word-painting, or the use of musical gestures to illustrate individual words, also abounds in the piece. One example of this can be heard towards the end of the opening ‘Stabat Mater’, in which gentle rhythmic pulsing sends subtle ripples through the veneer of hushed choral homophony, as if Mary’s soul were being pierced by a sword. Though Haydn respectfully avoids any overt dramatisation, he also uses the soloists and chorus to add subtle characterisation. In many cases, the verses referring directly to Mary’s feelings are presented by the soprano or mezzo-soprano (for example, ‘O quam tristis’, ‘Quis non posset’ and ‘Fac me vere’), while descriptions of the Crucifixion occur in tenor or bass arias (‘Pro peccatis suae’ and ‘Vidit suum’). The chorus is also used at strategic points in the text: for example, to mark the turn from description of Mary’s plight to the worshipper’s desire to share her emotion at ‘Eja, Mater’. The ensemble comes together in the final section, as powerful choral imitation and virtuosic solo statements vividly conjure up ‘Paradisi gloria’ (‘the glory of Paradise’).
Missa Cellensis in honorem BVM, ‘Cäcilienmesse’
in C major
While historical context provides a wealth of information about a work, the Missa Cellensis illustrates how difficult it can be to determine exactly when or where a Mass—which theoretically could be performed at any time in the church calendar—was first performed. After becoming the Esterházy Kapellmeister in 1766, Haydn began composing a large missa solemnis or ‘number Mass’, an elaborate setting with expanded orchestration in which the standard sections of the Ordinary were subdivided into additional movements. The resulting work—one of the largest Mass settings ever composed—was known until relatively recently as the Missa Sanctae Caeciliae or Cäcilienmesse. Although Haydn had called the piece ‘Missa Cellensis’ in the catalogue he kept of his own works, it was assumed that the composer had simply confused it with the Missa Cellensis of 1782. A partial manuscript inscribed with Haydn’s original title was discovered in 1975, however, confirming that the work was written for one occasion and subsequently reused for another purpose—a relatively common practice when it came to Mass settings. In its guise as the Missa Cellensis, the work was probably performed at one of the private services commemorating a pilgrimage to the church of Mariazell, a popular site approximately 80 miles from Vienna to which many devotees (including Haydn) travelled on foot. One such service took place on 8 September 1766, the feast of the Nativity BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary), at the Styrian Confraternity in Vienna, and it is possible that the Missa Cellensis was performed on this occasion. Although there is no existing documentation other than the alternate title, the Mass may have been reprised at the feast of St Cecilia, the patron saint of music, perhaps at the behest of the Cäcilienbruderschaft (St Cecilia Brotherhood).
Scored for strings, oboes, bassoon, trumpets, timpani and organ in addition to soloists and choir, the Missa Cellensis may originally have consisted of the Kyrie and Gloria alone, with the other sections added in the mid-1770s for the other occasion at which the Mass was performed. Haydn draws upon the wealth of musical styles and traditions associated with the Viennese Mass throughout the lengthy setting, almost as if he were relishing the task of writing his first Mass setting for his employers. The Kyrie begins with a brief slow introduction for choir alone, incorporating dotted rhythms that proceed naturally from the rhythm of the text. The first ‘Kyrie’ is boldly stated by unison choir, supported by scurrying strings that generate palpable energy. In accordance with Viennese tradition, Haydn sets the ‘Christe’ as a distinct section that is further distinguished with the use of solo voice (tenor). The final ‘Kyrie’ unfolds in an elaborate fugue, paying homage to a compositional technique that was used less and less frequently in eighteenth-century Mass settings. In a festive Mass setting, the lengthy Gloria text could be divided into as few as two and as many as ten or eleven movements. Here, Haydn transforms the Gloria into seven separate movements with distinctly different characters, ranging from the ornate counterpoint of the ‘Gratias agimus tibi’ to the vocal pyrotechnics of the soprano solo ‘Quoniam tu solus sanctus’. In the Credo, Haydn employs a rhetorical technique common in eighteenth-century Mass settings but which he never used again: repeating the word ‘Credo’ (‘I believe’) throughout the movement to unify the sections and underscore the section’s basic premise.
In comparison to the previous sections, the choral Sanctus is surprisingly brief, serving as a reminder that the function of Mass settings was liturgical as well as aesthetic. As a church handbook advocated in 1826, the Sanctus needed to be short, ‘because during the consecration strict silence must prevail over the organ as well as choir so that nobody is disturbed in the worship of the moment [the consecration of the Host]’[Note 10]. After the elevation of the Host, the Benedictus was then sung ‘in a lofty manner’, usually by a vocal soloist or small ensemble. Haydn departs from convention in the Benedictus and uses full chorus throughout the movement, a tactic he reused nearly thirty years later in the Heiligmesse. Particularly effective are the repeated statements of ‘Benedictus’ (‘blessed’), which sound almost like an incantation. The use of the full chorus in the Benedictus stands in stark contrast to the Agnus Dei, in which Haydn creates a more personal plea with the use of solo voice (bass) throughout. As was common practice, the Missa Cellensis triumphantly concludes at ‘Dona nobis pacem’ with a grand fugue in triple metre, both calling attention to the text’s lilting rhythm and—perhaps unintentionally—leaving listeners with a subconscious reminder of the Holy Trinity.
Missa Sancti Nicolai, ‘Nikolaimesse’
in G major
Although Haydn composed all his Mass settings as an employee of the Esterházy family, the Missa Sancti Nicolai in G is the only early Mass that can be directly connected to the court. As the title suggests, the Mass was probably intended for the Feast of St Nicholas on 6 December, which was also the nameday of Prince Nicolaus Esterházy. While it was customary to celebrate with the performance of a Mass in the Eisenstadt castle chapel, this seems to be one of the few times (with the exception of the final six Masses) that Haydn actually wrote a new piece for the occasion. After an unusually long season at Eszterháza, the Prince had finally agreed to allow the musicians to return to Eisenstadt, and it has been suggested that the Missa Sancti Nicolai was Haydn’s way of thanking him. If so, Haydn probably wrote the work rather quickly—and indeed, several of the work’s features hint that time may have been of the essence. First, Haydn himself helped prepare the parts for the first performance; he set several lines of text simultaneously in the Credo; and he also repeated the Kyrie music for the ‘Dona nobis pacem’, a common procedure in eighteenth- century Austrian Masses.
Doubtless inspired by the position of Nicolaus’s nameday in the liturgical calendar, the Missa Sancti Nicolai is an example of a pastoral Mass, a sub-genre associated with Advent that uses various musical techniques to evoke pastoral images associated with the humble birth of Christ, such as shepherds in a field. In Austria and Germany, the setting is sometimes referred to as the ‘Mass in six-four time’, referring to the unusual lilting metre of the Kyrie and ‘Dona nobis pacem’ that was a common pastoral trait. The work is also in G major, a key frequently used in pastoral Masses to distinguish them from the more common C major. While Haydn does not import its procedures wholesale, the pastoral Mass’s simple melodies, choral unisons and direct quality make the emotional landscape of the Missa Sancti Nicolai particularly vivid; in a small way, it even foreshadows the Masses he was yet to write. The special quality of the six late Masses is most frequently linked to the new symphonic style, but perhaps the pastoral’s folksy appeal and picturesque imagery also made a small but meaningful contribution to Haydn’s musical vocabulary.
Missa in angustiis, ‘Nelsonmesse’
in D minor
Composed over twenty-five years later in 1798, the Nelsonmesse is the third of Haydn’s six late Masses. Although it is assumed that the work was composed for the Princess’s nameday in early September, there is no extant evidence directly connecting the Mass to the nameday celebration. On the contrary, the Mass’s first recorded performance was not until 23 September—several weeks after the festivities would have taken place. The setting’s title raises additional questions about the work’s inception. As with most of Haydn’s late Masses, the nickname, ‘Nelson Mass’, was added several years later, possibly as a result of the Admiral’s visit to Eisenstadt in September of 1800 (not because of Nelson’s 1798 victory over Napoleon in the Battle of Aboukir, which Haydn did not know about until after he had completed the work). In his personal catalogue, Haydn actually titled the work Missa in angustiis, or ‘Mass in time of affliction, in anxiety and danger’, referring either to Austria’s political turmoil or to his own state of mind while writing the work. Whether the title refers to contemporary political events or the more prosaic worry of trying to meet a deadline, it seems an odd choice for a princess’s nameday Mass. As one scholar has recently demonstrated, however, contemporary listeners would not have found the political reference unusual; the Austrian observance of the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary had been linked to the 1683 liberation of Vienna from the Turkish army for over a hundred years. In light of current events, Haydn’s emphasis on this connection would thus have been more than appropriate. Furthermore, the manuscript shows that Haydn composed the Mass between 10 July and 31 August, an unusually short span of time implying a deadline that loomed sooner than the end of September.
If questions remain about Haydn’s compositional intent, the Nelsonmesse’s expressive intensity perhaps ends the discussion. Nicolaus II had recently dismissed his Harmonie (wind band) in an attempt to reduce expenses, forcing Haydn to compose without the complement of winds available for the Heiligmesse and Paukenmesse. The instrumentation he subsequently chose—strings, organ, three trumpets (perhaps hired just for the occasion) and timpani—has an undeniably martial tone, and gives the Nelsonmesse a particularly distinctive character. Another noteworthy feature is the juxtaposition of extremes established immediately in the Kyrie and Gloria. In the Kyrie, aggressive chords in the trumpets and strings and Haydn’s use of the minor mode strike a tone of urgency, while frenzied soprano flourishes hover above the texture. The striking contrast of the Gloria’s dazzlingly overt optimism sets up the work’s main dramatic conceit: a seemingly irresolvable tension between darkness and light. In spite of the Gloria’s sunny demeanour, glimpses of the original gloom soon re-emerge, particularly at ‘Laudamus te’. This contrast is also explicit in the Benedictus (the section of the Mass that increasingly became Haydn’s locus of expression), in which an ominous rhythmic figure in the trumpets eventually eclipses the choral texture. Resolution comes with the concluding ‘Dona nobis pacem’, however, as the massive full chorus transcends all ambiguity.
One of the most often-discussed features of Haydn’s late Masses is his almost symphonic use of form, a feature that is usually attributed to the influence of his recently composed ‘London’ symphonies. While this is valid in many respects, scholars caution against overstating the connection. The three-part sonata form (exposition—development—recapitulation) is inherently similar to the tripartite structures that continually inform the structure of the Mass texts, while Baroque ritornello form also uses thematic repetition as an organising principle. The Gloria of the Nelsonmesse offers a good illustration of the way in which these old and new forms are interrelated. The first and last sections (‘Gloria in excelsis’ and ‘Quoniam tu solus sanctus’) share the same theme in precisely the same arrangement, creating the effect of a grand return in nearly sonata-like style. Haydn repeats this theme in various guises elsewhere in the movement, however, borrowing equally from the older ritornello procedure. Neither bound to musical expression of individual phrases nor blindly obedient to musical architecture, Haydn creates a sense of drama in the Nelsonmesse—and indeed in all his Mass settings—that is wholly his own.
Missa Cellensis, ‘Mariazellermesse’ in C major
Between 1772 and 1796, Haydn composed only two Mass settings, neither of which was written for the court. One of these was the Mariazellermesse of 1782, also known as the second Missa Cellensis. While an inscription on the autograph manuscript, ‘Missa Cellensis Fatta per il Signor Liebe de Kreutzner’, tells us that the work was commissioned by retired military officer Anton Liebe de Kreutzner, the reason it was requested is not as clearly stated. One theory proposes that the Mariazellermesse was first performed at one of the celebrations commemorating Kreutzner’s ennoblement, which had taken place the previous year. Kreutzner was also a member of the Viennese brotherhood responsible for services in honour of the Mariazell pilgrimages, and it is even more likely that he commissioned the piece on behalf of the group. Whatever the specific reason for its composition, the Mariazellermesse quickly became one of Haydn’s most popular Masses. As Haydn scholar H.C. Landon explains, ‘it is clear that with this Missa Cellensis…he reached, and reached with panache and astonishing vigour, the popular style for which he had been so long and so diligently searching in his instrumental music’[Note 11]. For this reason, the Mariazellermesse is often understood as both the precursor to Haydn’s late Masses as well as the culmination of his early efforts in the genre.
One key to the Mariazellermesse’s popularity might be the easy way in which Haydn intermingles familiar strategies and elements of symphonic style. The work displays many ties to tradition: Haydn wrote the work in C major, the key most commonly used in Viennese Mass settings and one he rarely used in his own. Haydn also draws on many standard procedures in the Gloria, switching between choral and solo statements (as was customary) to emphasise important phrases like ‘Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis’ (‘Thou that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us’). The first part of the Credo recalls the Grosse Orgelsolomesse of the late 1760s, as the choir, supported by rapid string accompaniment, proceeds through the text in an almost declamatory fashion. Haydn also uses word-painting: ‘Crucifixus’ is dramatised with gentle chromaticism, while ‘sepultus est’ (‘was buried’) is dramatised with low notes. The opening of the lyrical Sanctus is even based on a Marian pilgrimage song. Other features of the Mariazellermesse are less typical, however, particularly the way in which Haydn uses large-scale form. In both the Kyrie and Credo, he creates sonata-like structures by recapitulating the opening material. Also unusual is the Benedictus, which Haydn—in a rare instance of self-borrowing—based on an aria from his opera Il mondo della luna (1777).
Missa in tempore belli, ‘Paukenmesse’
in C major
Fourteen years elapsed between the Mariazellermesse and his next two Mass settings, the Missa in tempore belli (‘Mass in time of war’), also known as the Paukenmesse, and the Missa Sancti Bernardi von Offida, or Heiligmesse. (Which work was composed first has been the subject of debate; while both were written in 1796, it is now believed that Haydn performed the Heiligmesse for the 1796 nameday celebration, and the Paukenmesse during the festivities the following year.) As suggested by its original title, contemporary events had a major impact on the ‘Mass in time of war’. The 1793 execution of Louis XVI had instigated a European war that was still ongoing, and Austria and its territories were under attack for the first time since the Turkish siege in 1683. According to the biographer Griesinger, while at work on the Mass Haydn learnt that the French were threatening Styria (the southeast region of Austria). The first documented performance of the Missa in tempore belli actually took place on 26 December 1797 at the Primitae (first Mass celebration) of the recently ordained priest Joseph Franz von Hofmann—an occasion at which references to political turmoil might seem out of place. The Mass was likely requested by Hofmann’s father Johann, however, who held the post of Imperial Royal Kriegzahlmeister (‘Paymaster for War’). The connection was certainly clear in the minds of contemporary listeners; as one witness later described the occasion, ‘a colossal crowd of people came from all over, also many of the nobility, the more so since the most respected and world-famous Herr von Haydn... performed his new and certainly majestic Mass (the War Mass), which he conducted’[Note 12].
Whereas the instrumental forces available to Haydn for the Nelsonmesse had been restricted, he was able to use the Harmonie (oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns, who also played the trumpet parts) as well as strings, organ and timpani in the Missa in tempore belli. Haydn later reworked the instrumentation, adding a part for flute as well as expanding the clarinet and horn parts. Elements of Haydn’s new approach to the Mass, including simple melodies, dramatic extremes, more frequent integration of solo and chorus, and a new approach to large-scale form can be found in all the sections, but the Benedictus and Agnus Dei are the most strikingly programmatic. Haydn makes the unorthodox choice of beginning the Benedictus in the minor mode, and the stealthily sneaking staccato eighth notes in the orchestral introduction heighten the rather unsettled mood. After the vocal soloists make their entrance, the mode quickly changes to the placid major, but a brief return to minor before the end of the movement and the abbreviated ‘Osanna’ undercut the sense of well-being. This mixture of emotions is catapulted to the foreground in the Agnus Dei, in which menacing timpani figures, eventually augmented by trumpets, are juxtaposed with peaceful unison chorus. According to Griesinger, Haydn wanted the drums to sound ‘as if one heard the enemy approaching in the distance’. The evocative use of the timpani (or Pauken, in German) so captivated the audience that it prompted the work’s nickname, Paukenmesse. Haydn offers his own musical resolution to the conflict in the concluding ‘Dona nobis pacem’, where the unison chorus proclaims ‘pacem’ (‘peace’) and the trumpets sound.
Missa in honorem BVM, ‘Grosse Orgelsolomesse’
in E fl at major
Haydn’s Mass settings illustrate many different uses for sacred music in the Austrian court, several of which converge in the Grosse Orgelsolomesse (‘Large Organ Solo Mass’), also known as the Missa in honorem BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary). Composed around 1768 or 1769, the Mass was probably first performed on a Marian feast day, highlighting the veneration of the Virgin Mary that was a vital part of worship in the Habsburg Empire. (Like many Mass settings, the work was later recycled for use on St Joseph’s Day as the Missa Sancti Josephi.) The Mass is also a good example of the Austrian tradition of Mass settings featuring obbligato organ; the solo organ part, which Haydn probably played himself, off ers delicately worded commentary throughout. While Haydn stays true to techniques common in Viennese Mass settings, in other aspects the work is quite unique. Haydn augments the traditional church ensemble of violins and continuo with horns and cors anglais, instruments more commonly used in secular music. (Haydn may have added parts for trumpets and timpani at a later date, as manuscript copies of the Mass dating from the 1770s suggest.) Equally atypical is Haydn’s use of E fl at major, a choice that may be linked to the presence of the cors anglais. (In the Stabat Mater, the two movements featuring cors anglais—‘O quam tristis’ and ‘Virgo virginum praeclara’—are also in the key of E flat.)
As is evident from its opening measures, the Grosse Orgelsolomesse has a quality that is at once melancholy and lyrically sweet, and this distinctive hue colours even the most standard elements of the work. In the Kyrie, gently descending melodies, quasi-improvisatory organ interjections, and occasional inflections of the minor mode create a ruminative mood that still prevails in the opening of the Gloria, as the chorus intones ‘Et in terra pax’. Haydn’s subtle approach to text continues throughout the Gloria, which also takes advantage of the standard use of solo and ensemble to express text and enliven the lengthy section. At the phrase ‘Qui tollis peccata mundi’, for example, Haydn sets ‘Qui tollis’ (‘Thou that takest away’) in an extremely low register, and places ‘peccata mundi’ (‘sins of the world’) in a much higher range. Although it was not unusual to give this phrase special musical treatment, Haydn’s approach simultaneously illustrates God’s power and strength as well as the literal banishment of frivolous, worldly offenses. In the Credo, Haydn approaches the ‘Crucifixus’ with similar elegance, using sombre imitation to create a ponderous weight that completely avoids pathos. The Sanctus likewise begins with gentle imitation that poetically converges in unison chorus at the words ‘Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua’ (‘Heaven and Earth are full of your glory’). Haydn uses the slightly expanded musical forces to dramatic effect as well. In the Benedictus, the organ provides ornate decoration throughout (Haydn actually designated the part ‘Organo concerto’), while in the Agnus Dei, baleful cors anglais echo the section’s bittersweet sentiment.
Missa Sancti Bernardi von Offida, ‘Heiligmesse’ in B flat major
While the Grosse Orgelsolomesse was among the earliest sacred works Haydn composed for the Esterházy court, the Heiligmesse was perhaps the first Mass that Haydn composed after his return to the Esterházy court in 1796 to serve the new Prince, Nicolaus II. Haydn titled the setting Missa Sancti Bernardi von Offida, referring to the seventeenth-century Capuchin monk Bernard of Offida, whom Pope Pius VI had beatified the previous year. In 1796 the Feast of Maria Namen (the Most Holy Name of Mary) coincided with the Feast of St Bernard on 11 September, and although no concrete supporting evidence exists it seems likely that the work was performed on that day. Records reveal a remarkable program for the 1796 celebrations, featuring a month-long season of plays and operas that included Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and a play entitled Alfred for which Haydn wrote incidental music. In May 1802 the Heiligmesse was the first of Haydn’s Masses to be published by Breitkopf and Härtel. A few months later, a review in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung declared: ‘This work attests anew Haydn’s inexhaustible invention, his admirable novelty of ideas and their development; almost everything is new, and especially several movements, in their accompaniment and orchestration, show that in the soul of this old man there blooms eternal youth.’[Note 13]
As the gently lyrical Kyrie makes clear, the Heiligmesse is the most overtly melodious of Haydn’s Mass settings. Not everyone found this tuneful quality appealing, however. One critic wrote in 1826, ‘when we hear the Kyrie eleison sung to a minuet tune, our feelings and judgement—resulting, it may be said, from a cold, Protestant education—lead us to consider such a style as a breach of religious propriety, and a violation of good sense’[Note 14]. Haydn creatively merges this ‘minuet tune’ with the imitative texture usually associated with the second Kyrie, slyly segueing into a full-scale development section. The work also conceals several pre-existing tunes, one of which gave rise to the work’s nickname. In the Credo, Haydn wryly borrows from his own three-part canon Gott im Herzen (Hob.XXVIIb:44) for the ‘Et incarnatus est’ section: ‘Gott im Herzen, ein gut Weibchen im Arm, / Jenes macht selig, dieses g’wiss warm’ (‘God in the heart and a good woman on the arm, / One makes us holy, the other one warm’).[Note 15] Haydn selected a slightly more appropriate source for the Sanctus, an old German Sanctus tune called ‘Heilig, heilig’ (‘Holy, holy’), which he conceals in the inner voices (but points out in the manuscript by writing the word ‘Heilig’ over the alto part). Another distinctive feature of the Mass is the large role given to the choir, which takes the lead through much of the setting. Most striking is the setting of the Benedictus for full chorus throughout, something Haydn does only one other time, in his first Missa Cellensis. As the review published shortly after the work’s 1802 publication exudes, ‘...it is certain that anyone with a heart, and to whom music means anything at all, must grasp the meaning of this Benedictus and the following Agnus Dei’[Note 16]. The rapturous calm of the Agnus Dei is quickly supplanted by the jubilant ‘Dona nobis pacem’, in which soft interjections and a surprising deceptive cadence slightly delay the inevitable exuberant conclusion.
in F major
In his personal catalogue, Haydn wrote of the Missa brevis in F a due soprani, ‘This was the first Mass that Herr Haydn wrote while still a student’[Note 17]. While there is some disagreement about the statement’s truth, due to the existence of an earlier Mass in G that is probably spurious, the Missa brevis is indeed the composer’s earliest authenticated work. Written shortly before Haydn’s departure from St Stephen’s, the Mass features only two solo parts; both are for soprano—an unusual arrangement that has given rise to the theory that Haydn wrote the work as a vehicle for himself and his brother Michael. In many respects, the piece is a traditional missa brevis (‘short Mass’): each part of the Ordinary corresponds to a single movement; Haydn sets several lines of text simultaneously in the Gloria and Credo, thereby moving rapidly through the lengthy sections; and the music of the Kyrie is repeated at the ‘Dona nobis pacem’ in accordance with standard practice. Other aspects of the work are less conventional, however. Haydn uses the solo sopranos in unorthodox ways throughout the Mass, at times treating them almost as instrumental soloists. In the Kyrie, they embellish the choral statements as would instrumentalists in a Baroque concerto, while their surprising entrance at the end of the Gloria, an otherwise choral movement, sounds almost like a trumpet fanfare. After rediscovering the work almost fifty years later, Haydn later told Dies that he particularly admired ‘the melody and a certain youthful fire’[Note 18].
in B flat major
At the opposite end of Haydn’s career stands his last major composition: the Harmoniemesse, on which the composer reported ‘labouring wearily’ between June and August of 1802 in order to complete the work before the Princess’s nameday festivities on 8 September. According to the report of the Austrian ambassador to Britain Count Louis Starhemberg, the 1802 celebration was particularly festive, consisting of a church service (in which Haydn himself directed the music), an elegant dinner and ball that continued until the early hours of the morning, a hunt the following morning, and a concert featuring excerpts from the Harmoniemesse. After completing the Mass, Haydn complained increasingly of fatigue, lack of concentration, and depression, and ultimately submitted his resignation to the Esterházy family towards the end of 1804. Although he lived until 1809, the Harmoniemesse was to be not only his final Mass setting but his last major composition.
With a full Harmonie, or wind band, at his disposal, Haydn composed the Mass for a full complement of winds and brass (including flute and horn) in addition to strings, choir and vocal soloists. The use of a full wind section was still relatively novel in the early nineteenth century, thus giving rise to the work’s nickname, Harmoniemesse. The impact of the expanded palette of instrumental colour is felt immediately in the Kyrie’s slow instrumental introduction, from which the rest of the section gradually proceeds. Even the ‘Christe eleison’, usually set forth as a distinct section, is carefully integrated into the movement’s overall framework. This deliberate, almost organic approach contrasts strikingly with sections that are more extrovert and intense in character, setting up a dichotomy not unlike that in the Nelsonmesse. Haydn continues to exploit these dramatic extremes throughout the Harmoniemesse. In the Gloria, ‘Et incarnatus est’ unfolds in a reverent manner similar to that of the Kyrie, establishing a feeling of timelessness that is obliterated in the ensuing ‘Et resurrexit’. The Sanctus begins in the same monumental vein, alternating between the quartet of soloists and full choir before the unexpected interruption at ‘Pleni sunt coeli’. The opening of the Benedictus is almost scherzo-like in character, its nervous energy standing in sharp distinction to the calm of the Sanctus—a contrast that the reprise of music from the end of the Sanctus makes even more clear. Particularly shocking is the transition from the first part of the Agnus Dei to ‘Dona nobis pacem’, in which a sudden trumpet fanfare completely explodes the placid choral landscape that has been established. The most striking contrast, however, is between the work and its creator. In the face of the Harmoniemesse’s expressive intensity, it is nearly impossible to imagine that Haydn himself was at the end of his compositional career.
Missa brevis (1805 revision)
in F major
In 1789 the German music-publishing firm of Breitkopf and Härtel wrote to Haydn requesting music to publish, and it subsequently issued a two-movement keyboard sonata (Hob.XIV:48) as part of a continuing series Musikalischer Potpourri—or as Haydn sarcastically called it, the ‘Musical Vegetable Pot’[Note 19]. Despite Haydn’s seeming disdain for their initial collaboration, the firm became Haydn’s principal publisher after 1796. Although at first they were not interested in any of Haydn’s sacred music, they re-evaluated their decision after the success of The Creation and The Seasons, publishing five of the six late Masses after 1802 (with the exception of the Theresienmesse, which Haydn curiously did not off er the firm). Breitkopf and Härtel’s new interest in his vocal music led Haydn to revisit some of his more youthful works, among them the early Missa brevis in F. In 1805 one of Haydn’s visitors wrote, ‘By chance he had found one of his earliest works, a small Mass... This composition pleased him anew, and now he is adding parts to it, in order that this earliest and perhaps last product of his genius could be presented to Prince Esterházy as a sign of grateful recognition.’[Note 20] Haydn significantly expanded the work’s orchestration, adding flute, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets and timpani to the setting he had composed over fifty years prior. The Missa brevis may indeed have been presented to Nicolaus II, but the motivation behind the work’s reorchestration was likely more mercenary. According to Griesinger, who served as Haydn’s liaison to Breitkopf and Härtel, the setting was among twelve works offered for sale in 1805. While the firm purchased the music, most of it (including the revised Missa brevis) never made it into print.
in B flat major
First performed on 13 September 1801 at the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, the Schöpfungsmesse, or ‘Creation Mass’, derives its nickname from a notorious musical reference to Haydn’s famous oratorio The Creation, which had first been performed in 1798. Although he was nearly seventy, Haydn was apparently still very much involved in the performance of his music. As one orchestra member later reported, when unhappy with the organist’s rendition of a solo passage in the Mass, Haydn ran ‘with the agility of a weasel’ to the organ and played it himself. While no specific account of the nameday festivities exists, it was reported that Haydn’s brother Michael was present at the Schöpfungsmesse’s first performance, and he conducted a performance of the Theresienmesse on 4 October at Laxenbourg Castle, the summer residence of Nicolaus II. Knowing that his Kapellmeister was likely nearing the end of his career, the Prince offered Michael a job at the Esterházy court—a position he ultimately refused.
One of the Schöpfungsmesse’s most distinguishing features is its marvellous musical illustration—and the Gloria provides perhaps the most distinctive (and certainly best-known) example. Shortly after the powerful choral opening, horns announce the melody from Adam and Eve’s duet ‘The dew-dropping morn, how she quickens all!’ from The Creation. The familiar tune subsequently accompanies the phrase ‘Qui tollis peccata mundi’ (‘Thou that takest away the sins of the world’), making the wry connection between the ‘sins of the world’ and its original sinners. As Griesinger explains:
While the brief appearance of this familiar melody probably made many in the audience smile, at least one of Haydn’s admirers wasn’t amused. The Empress Marie Therese was so upset by Haydn’s reuse of secular music in the context of the Mass, in fact, that Haydn felt compelled to write an alternate version of this section for her. Other picturesque elements are less controversial. In the Credo, a delicate organ obbligato—evoking a dove’s fluttering wings to symbolise the Holy Ghost—introduces ‘Et incarnatus est’, a slow, rhapsodic solo that poetically underscores the birth of Christ. The chorus’s forceful interjection at the important phrase ‘sub Pontio Pilato: / passus et sepultus est’ (‘under Pontius Pilate: / suffered and was buried’) gives further emphasis to this important liturgical moment. Just as striking is the sudden and cataclysmic enactment of the Last Judgement at ‘judicare vivos’ (‘to judge the living’), which quickly dissolves into a droning evocation of the dead (‘et mortuos’). As he had done in The Seasons, which had had its premiere under five months earlier, Haydn uses music in the Schöpfungsmesse to make the words truly come alive.
Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo, ‘Kleine Orgelsolomesse’
in B fl at major
The first of the two Masses Haydn composed between 1772 and 1796, the Kleine Orgelsolomesse (‘Small Organ Solo Mass’) in B flat—also known as the Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo—was intended for the Eisenstadt church of the Barmherzige Brüder (Order of St John of God). A religious order with members known for their medical abilities, the Barmherzige Brüder had great faith in the healing powers of music, which occupied a prominent place in its services. The order’s Eisenstadt centre was intimately bound to the Esterházy court, and provided its employees with medical care and prescriptions (Haydn was reportedly given ‘chest powder’, ‘stomach elixir’, herbal tea and ‘tooth powder’). Although Haydn did not inscribe a date on the manuscript, as he often did, the work was probably composed in the mid-1770s and performed on the feast day of John of God, the Barmherzige Brüder’s patron saint. The small forces for which the work is scored—chorus, solo soprano, and the typical church ensemble of two violins and continuo—reflect the institution’s modest resources.
Intended for a standard service, rather than a significant day in the church calendar, the Kleine Orgelsolomesse merges standard missa brevis techniques with Haydn’s ingenious approach to the genre. As in the Missa brevis in F, he shortens the lengthy Gloria and Credo sections by setting lines of text simultaneously. The Gloria was so short, in fact, that Haydn’s brother Michael composed a version ‘un poco più prolongato’ (‘a little more prolonged’). In other sections, however, Haydn replaces customary procedures with his own unique approach. In the Benedictus the rhapsodic aria for solo soprano is accompanied by strings and obbligato organ, as in the Grosse Orgelsolomesse, logically prompting the nickname, Kleine Orgelsolomesse. And in the Agnus Dei Haydn foregoes the traditional reuse of music from the Kyrie, surprisingly overriding the customary change in character at ‘Dona nobis pacem’ to end the work in the same contemplative mood in which it began.
in B flat major
The fourth of the six nameday Masses, the Theresienmesse was so called because of the belief that the work was written for Marie Therese, the wife of Emperor Francis II and the soprano soloist in The Creation and The Seasons. (A few years later, Michael Haydn composed a Mass that was certainly dedicated to the Empress, the Missa Sancti Theresa.) It is now thought that the Empress had the work in her library simply because she was an avid collector of Haydn’s music, rather than because she was the dedicatee. A contemporary account of the first performance vividly illustrates the opulence of the nameday festivities:
As was typical of Viennese Masses from the period—and was particularly true of Haydn’s late Masses—the Theresienmesse owes much of its dramatic effect to its effortless intermingling of the quartet of soloists with powerful choral writing, as well as its use of traditional elements of Mass settings in new ways. After a slow introduction, Haydn proceeds through the entire textural gamut in the first statement of the Kyrie alone, redefining the counterpoint that historically concludes the second Kyrie as development material. He also uses changes in musical texture to add meaning not necessarily explicit in the words, as would have been expected. In the Gloria, for example, the text ‘Gratias agimus tibi’ is accorded to soloists, creating a feeling of immediacy and intimacy absent in the verse itself. A similar effect occurs in the Credo. After a unified choral opening that accentuates the text’s main idea (belief in a single God), solo voices express the heavy emotions that accompany the Crucifixion (‘Et incarnatus est’). Likewise, solo voices create an oasis of tranquillity within the happily assertive ‘Dona nobis pacem’ (‘Grant us peace’).
While the dramatic use of chorus and soloists was of course expected in the Viennese Mass, Haydn’s symphonic use of form is much more idiosyncratic, particularly in the Theresienmesse. In the Kyrie, for example, the main subject (the melodic fragment that each voice gradually imitates) of the fugue is based on musical material from the introduction, revealing a concern for large-scale coherence more typical of a symphony. The Kyrie concludes with a reprise of the slow introduction, creating a three-part form that not only recalls the tripartite textual structure (‘Kyrie eleison’—‘Christe eleison’—‘Kyrie eleison’) but also the three-part sonata form that had become standard in the first movement of a symphony. As well as inspiring form and melodic development, the instruments are vital to the mood of individual sections. In the Gloria, sparkling string flourishes echo the jubilant text, as do brilliant trumpet fanfares after ‘Benedicimus te’ and ‘Adoramus te’. Trumpets again punctuate the mention of the death of Christ, in the Credo. And at the words ‘Dona nobis pacem’ (‘Grant us peace’) in the Agnus Dei, the strings, trumpets and timpani interject an almost martial tone that foreshadows the exhilaratingly dramatic conclusion.
Jennifer More Glagov
Although Hoboken’s catalogue mentions fourteen mass titles, the latest understanding is that within this system of numbering, Mass No. 2, Missa Sunt bona mixta malis in D minor as well as Mass No. 3, Missa Rorate coeli desuper in G major, are both fragmentary, and of uncertain provenance. For this reason they have not been included in this set. This explains the apparent ‘gap’ in the numbering: although there are fourteen numbered masses, there are only twelve complete extant mass settings.
Why record the Haydn Masses? It all began ten years ago with a conversation with another record label. I was interested in what gaps the Trinity Choir and I could fill in that company’s catalogue. At that time no one had released a complete set of Haydn Masses on period instruments.
With the collaboration of my friends in the Rebel ensemble, we began to record a ‘test’ CD of the first F major Mass and the rarely heard Missa Cellensis. The Rector and Vicar of Trinity Church at that time, the Revd Dr Daniel Paul Matthews and the Rt Revd John Howard, agreed, with understandable hesitation, to underwrite the recording. And so the journey began...
When that first CD was released to universal rave reviews in Europe and America, Trinity’s reservation shifted to enthusiasm, and the Vestry tentatively agreed to fund future recordings.
The first recording was barely out a year when the record company’s financial difficulties came to bear; there would be no further releases. Enter Naxos and my hero, Klaus Heymann. It seemed the same gap existed in the Naxos catalogue. Klaus graciously agreed to take in ‘an orphan’. Our recordings would continue.
Upon my departure from Trinity in January of 2008 (now with nine of the twelve Masses recorded), the project seemed in jeopardy. I was very pleased that Jane Glover agreed to take over the reins and complete the final recordings. She graciously cared for the project, and brought to it her consummate skill and musicianship.
I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude to Klaus Heymann, Dr Matthews, and Bishop Howard. I also wish to acknowledge Trinity’s Vestry; the current Rector and Vicar, the Revd Dr James Herbert Cooper and the Revd Canon Anne Mallonee; and retiring CFO Steve Duggan for their continuous support. Additionally, the individual members of Rebel and their co-leaders, Jörg-Michael Schwarz and Karen Marie Marmer, have shared equally with the Trinity Choir in the creation of these performances.
I especially want to thank producer Bettina Covo for her unwavering commitment to bringing my sonic vision to life, as well as recording engineer Leonard Manchess for digitally capturing it. To Allan Tucker, mastering engineer, many thanks for enhancing the ultimate quality of the entire project so beautifully; and thanks to my associate Richard Lippold who coordinated the entire project.
Finally, my undying thanks to the choir, soloists and instrumentalists who recorded late into the night, take after take, in between the seemingly constant urban din of sirens, garbage trucks, bus brakes, truck horns and subway rumble. Despite these obstacles, the musicians, especially the soloists, remained unfazed and delivered the beautiful performances you now enjoy. Bravi!
J. Owen Burdick, PhD
To join this glorious and important project in its latter stages, and guide it towards its finish, has been the most enormous privilege and the greatest joy. The music of Haydn—surely one of the most magnanimous and generous creative geniuses to have contributed to European culture—has always inspired me on all levels, intellectual, spiritual and emotional. The three Masses with which I was entrusted [Harmoniemesse, Schöpfungsmesse and Theresienmesse] are the perfect summation of a man whose essential faith sustained and informed every note he wrote, and, in that they are his last, seem to encapsulate the essence of his contemporary crowning masterpiece, The Creation.
[Note 1] James Webster, ‘Haydn’s sacred vocal music and the aesthetics of salvation’ in Haydn Studies, ed. W. Dean Sutcliff e (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 35
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