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Joseph Haydn, Heiligmesse (Pentecost)

May 20 @ 10:00 am

Mass No. 9 in B-flat Major: ‘Missa Sancti Bernardi von Offida‘, “Heiligmesse” (“Holy Mass”), H. XXII:10 (1796)

After 30 years as assistant Kapellmeister and Kapellmeister at the Esterházy Palace, Joseph Haydn (b.Rohrau,1732; d.Vienna,1809) became a musical “free agent” at age 58 when his patron, Prince Nikolaus I Esterházy “The Magnificent” (reigned 1762-1790), died and Nikolaus’ son and successor, Prince Anton Esterházy (reigned 1790–1794), disbanded the palace orchestra.  Haydn, who had no duties, but who continued to receive the Kapellmeister salary, moved to Vienna, made two extended trips to England, tutored a young pupil named Ludwig van Beethoven, and became wealthy with his compositions and personal appearances.  In 1796 he returned to the Esterhazy’s service, and to a reconstituted Esterházy palace orchestra, under Anton’s successor Prince Nikolaus II Esterházy (reigned 1794-1833).  Over the next six years Haydn composed the Heiligmesse and five other Masses to commemorate the name day (September 12, the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary) of Princess Marie Hermengild, the wife of Nikolaus II.  The six Masses in order of their composition are the Heiligmesse (1796); the Paukenmesse (1797); the Nelsonmesse (1798); the Theresienmesse (1799); the Schöpfungsmesse (1801) and the Harmoniemesse (1802).  They are all in the repertory of the Chorale. These late Masses coincide with the compositions of Haydn’s late symphonies. The Heiligmesse also marks the beginning of Haydn’s new compositions for the Church after a pause of some fourteen years, caused by the edict of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (reigned 1765 to 1790), who imposed severe restrictions on music and the liturgy.  Haydn named the Heiligmesse in honor of Blessed Bernard of Offida, an Italian Capuchin who was beatified by Pope Pius VI in 1795.  The Austrians quickly found a nickname for the Mass, calling it the Heiligmesse, which was derived from the melody of an old German hymn, Heilig, heilig (Holy, holy), sung by the tenors and altos in the Sanctus.  There is very little solo or quartet work in this Mass, but the choral composition is masterful, especially the intricate fugue in the Quoniam tu solus sanctus at the end of the Gloria and the subtle Et incarnatus est in the middle of the Credo. The orchestration calls for a full complement of strings, oboes, bassoons, trumpets, timpani, and organ. The Heiligmesse is a favorite among Chorale members and is a special way to celebrate the Easter season at Saint Agnes.                                                                                                                                                    (37:02)

                                                                      (Adapted from an undated and unpublished note by Monsignor Richard J. Schuler)


Haydn’s Heiligmesse is conducted by Chorale music director Dr. Robert L. Peterson.  Mary E. LeVoir is the organist.  Soloists are Patricia Kent, soprano; Jocelyn Kalajian, contralto; John deCausmeaker, tenor; and Jon Nordstrom, bass. The Schola Cantorum is directed by Paul W. LeVoir.  The Heiligmesse was first presented by the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale & Orchestra as part of its 1974-1975 inaugural Orchestra Mass season. The Chorale & Orchestra last presented this Mass on February 26th, 2017.



Twin Cities Catholic Chorale


Saint Agnes Church
535 Lafond Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55103 United States
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