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Joseph Haydn, Paukenmesse

October 15, 2017 @ 10:00 am

Paukenmesse by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

The powerful Paukenmesse by Joseph Haydn (b.Rohrau,1732; d.Vienna,1809) was subtitled by the composer as the Missa in Tempore Belli – the Mass in Time of War. The Emperor Joseph II (Holy Roman Emperor from 1780-1790), and often called “Joseph the Sacristan”, made so many rules restricting liturgical music that for twelve years Joseph Haydn did not compose a setting of the Mass. After the Mariazellermesse (Mass No. 8 in C Major “’Missa Cellensis” (H.XXII:8), which he composed in 1782, there was a gap until 1796 when he composed the Paukenmesse. Haydn composed this Mass at Eisenstadt, while Kapellmeister to Prince Nikolaus II Esterházy (reigned 1794–1833), at the time of Austria’s general mobilization for war against the French. During the French Army’s First Italian Campaign led by Bonaparte, Austria, along with other European powers, was doing badly against the French in Italy and Germany, and Austria feared invasion. In August of 1796 Emperor Franz (Holy Roman Emperor 1792-1806) proclaimed a general mobilization and forbade any discussion of peace until the French were driven back to their “customary borders.” Haydn was moved to create his masterpiece to assist in this mobilization, as the “sounds of war” were heard approaching the Austrian border. The tympani rolls and trumpet fanfares of the Agnus Dei have a military feel, and contrast with the demands for peace sung by the choir in the Dona nobis pacem. Of particular beauty and fame is the Qui tollis, the bass solo with solo cello obbligato in the Gloria, and of course, the prominent tympani (pauken) drum roll in the Agnus Dei, from which the Austrian nickname Paukenmesse (“Tympani” or “Kettledrum” Mass) has its origins. In the key of C major, the orchestration calls for the usual strings, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two trumpets, and of course the pauken! The Paukenmesse was the first of the large Haydn works that the Chorale studied. During the Chorale’s European trip in 1974, when it participated in the Sixth International Church Music Congress in Salzburg organized by the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae (CIMS), the Chorale sang this Mass in the Alte Peterskirche (Old Saint Peter’s Church) in central Munich on the Feast of the Assumption. This event was the founding director Monsignor Richard J. Schuler’s inspiration for the Chorale’s residency at Saint Agnes. (46:52)

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


The Paukenmesse is conducted by Chorale music director Robert L. Peterson. Mary E. LeVoir is the organist with soloists Patricia Kent, soprano; Jocelyn Kalajian, contralto; John deCausmeaker, tenor; and Jon Nordstrom, bass. The Schola Cantorum is directed by Paul W. LeVoir. The Paukenmesse was in the repertory of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale & Orchestra prior to its residency at the Church of Saint Agnes in 1974. The Chorale and Orchestra last presented this Mass on October 19, 2014. The Paukenmesse was recorded by the Chorale in 1986 and is available for purchase in Schuler Hall after Sunday Masses or from the Leaflet Missal Co. at http://www.leafletonline.com/.


Recommended Listening:

  • Haydn: Haydn at Saint Agnes / Schuler, Twin Cities Catholic Chorale & Orchestra / 1986 / Leaflet Missal
  • Haydn: Paukenmesse / Bernstein, Bayerischen Rundfunks Symphonie Orchester & Chor / 1984 / Philips 412 734-2
  • Haydn: Mariazellermesse; Paukenmesse / Burdick, REBEL Baroque Orchestra / 2010 / Naxos 8.572124


The Twin Cities Catholic Chorale is a non-profit corporation, financially independent of the Church of Saint Agnes and the Archdiocese of Saint Paul & Minneapolis, which depends solely on the generosity of its patrons.  For contribution options, and the current schedule of Masses, visit www.catholicchorale.org.  Compact discs of music recorded by the Chorale & Orchestra are available from the Leaflet Missal Co. at www.leafletonline.com.


Twin Cities Catholic Chorale

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