Offertory:  W. A. Mozart, Church Sonata in B-flat, K 68 (1772)

Composed in 1802, while Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was employed by Prince Nicolaus II Esterházy, the Harmoniemesse is the last of Haydn’s six great Masses.  It follows the completion of his over 100 symphonies and belongs to the period of the composition of his oratorios.  The nickname comes from the use of many wind instruments, giving the sound of a wind-band or a harmonium – a type of reedorgan that generates sound with foot-pumped bellowsAs with works by Beethoven at this time, this Mass is quite “romantic” in nature, with an expanded orchestra and powerful composing for both the chorus and the orchestra.  The prominence of the brass and winds enhances the festive nature of the work, especially the opening of the Gloria, the Pleni of the Sanctus, and the Dona nobis pacem in the Agnus Dei.  The Et incarnatus est in the Credo is set for soprano solo, trumpets, horns, and timpani – truly a passage of great and tender beauty.  The Harmoniemesse was Haydn’s last major work.  Shortly after composing this Mass, he sank into debilitating illness and was unable to produce any further works. 


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