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W.A. Mozart, Mass in C, K 337

January 14 @ 10:00 am

While seldom heard in concert halls and rarely recorded, this Mass composed in 1780 by W.A. Mozart (b.Salzburg1756: d.Vienna1791) nonetheless offers lovely, joyful music appropriate for liturgical use. Although titled, Missa Solemnis, its succinctness would qualify it as a missa brevis. The Credo, which lasts less than six minutes, is the second Credo Mozart composed for this Mass. He completed about two-thirds of the first Credo, up to non erit finis, and then put the piece aside. Some musicologists speculate that Mozart feared the first Credo was too theatrical for liturgical use, others opine that he had forgotten to set the words sub Pontio Pilato to music in the first draft. In any case, Mozart later that same year recycled the first Credo as a chaconne, a variation on a repeated short harmonic progression, in his opera, Idomeneo. The Missa Solemnis is scored for soloists, choir, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, strings (without violas) and organ, the latter supplying figured bass for most of the duration. The Sanctusrecalls features of the Kyrie, and has a violin figure that Mozart also recycled in Idomeneo. The Benedictus is peculiar for Mozart’s Mass settings in that it is an austere fugue in an archaic style. The Missa Solemnis was Mozart’s last complete Mass. It was composed for the cathedral where his father Leopold served as Deputy Kapellmeister, and where the younger Mozart himself served as the court organist to Prince-Archbishop Hieronymous Graf Colloredo of Salzburg (reigned 1771-1803). This period in Mozart’s musical life also saw the composition of his Mass No. 16 in C Major “Krönung” (Coronation), K 317 (1779) and his two orchestrated vespers – Vesperae solennes de DominicaK 321 (1779) and Vesperae solennes de Confessore, K 339 (1780). Following his dismissal from the employment of the Prince-Archbishop, the younger Mozart brushed the dust of Salzburg off his boots and headed to Vienna, where he embarked on a career of secular and operatic composition, culminating six years later with Le nozze di Figaro, K 492 (1786). The Imperial Italian opera company paid Mozart 450 florins for Figaro, which was three times his annual salary as court organist in Salzburg.                                                     (22:59)

       (Adapted from a note by Brian Robbins in the “All Music Guide to Classical Music”, published in 2005 by Backbeat Books.)


January 14
10:00 am
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Twin Cities Catholic Chorale


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Saint Paul, MN 55103 United States
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