Mass in B-flat by Johann Nepomuk Hummel

hummelIn his day, Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) was highly respected as a composer and pianist.  Hummel has the distinction of being the only full time music student W.A. Mozart ever took on, having lived with the Mozart family for two years from 1786 to 1788.  Hummel continued as a student of Mozart until the latter’s death in 1791 and was 13 at that time.  As a star pupil of Wolfgang Mozart, he was recommended in 1804 for the post of Konzertmeister for the court of Prince Nikolaus II Esterhazy (Reigned 1794-1833) at Eisenstadt, Austria.  While there Hummel served under Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn and assumed that position upon Haydn’s death in May of 1809.  He continued with the Esterhazy court until 1811.  Although he is most remembered for his piano compositions, his sacred music is also well regarded.  The Mass in B-flat Major is the first of five orchestral Masses composed by Hummel during his time at the Esterhazy court.  The wonderful melodies presented in this Mass are typical of the early romantics. The Twin Cities Catholic Chorale is proud to present this great Mass by one of the premier composers of the late classical period.

Processional:  Transeamus usque Bethlehem orchestrated by Josef Ignaz Schnabel

The Processional is Transeamus usque Bethlehem, a traditional Silesian Christmas choral work in Latin by an anonymous composer, as orchestrated by German composer and church musician Josef Ignaz Schnabel (1767-1831).Schnabels wohl bekannteste Arbeit ist seine Bearbeitung einer im Archiv des Breslauer Doms gefundenen Weihnachtspastorale eines unbekannten Komponisten aus dem frühen 18. Jahrhundert, Transeamus usque Bethlehem , die heute zum Standardrepertoire vieler Kirchenchöre gehört. Schnabel’s compositions consist mainly of instrumental accompaniments to traditional church music. Mit ihr begründete er eine speziell schlesische Tradition, auch als Breslauer Schule bezeichnet, die weithin unabhängig von restaurativen Tendenzen noch bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg lebendig war. He was a leader in the Silesian musical tradition known as the Breslau school, which continumed to be active after Schnabel‘s death and up to World War II. Schnabels wohl bekannteste Arbeit ist seine Bearbeitung einer im Archiv des Breslauer Doms gefundenen Weihnachtspastorale eines unbekannten Komponisten aus dem frühen 18. Jahrhundert, Transeamus usque Bethlehem , die heute zum Standardrepertoire vieler Kirchenchöre gehört. Schnabel was the Music Director and Archivist for the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Wroclaw, Poland where he discovered the Weihnachtspastorale, a forgotten collection of works by early 18th century composers.  Transeamus, which was a part of that collection, became the unofficial anthem of Silesians of German ancestry displaced to West Germany after WWII.  It is now included in the standard repertory for many church choirs.

Offertory:  Still, Still, Still, Austrian Christmas Carol & Lullaby

The Offertory hymn is the Austrian Christmas carol and lullaby Still, Still, Still, Weil’s Kindlein Schlafe will (Hush, Hush, Hush, for the Little Child Wants to Sleep).  The melody is a folk tune of unknown authorship from the Salzburg area, which appeared for the first time in 1865 in a folksong collection of Maria Vinzenz Süß (1802–1868), founder of the Salzburg Museum. The words, which in the standard German version includes six verses, describes the peace of the Infant Jesus and his Mother as the Baby is sung to sleep. The words have changed slightly over the years, with the current version being attributed to Georg Götsch (1895–1956).

Hummel’s Mass in B-flat is conducted by Chorale music director Robert L. Peterson.  Mary E. LeVoir is the organist.  There are no solo parts in the Hummel Mass, but soloists Laura LeVoir, soprano; Jocelyn Kalajian, contralto; Adam Gedde, tenor; and Jon Nordstrom, bass will be singing with the choir. The Schola Cantorum is directed by Paul W. LeVoir.  The Mass in B-flat was first presented by the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale & Orchestra as part of its 2011-2012 season. The Chorale and Orchestra last presented this Mass on June 1, 2014.

Recommended Listening

Hummel:  Mass in D Major; Mass in B Flat Major; Alma Virgo / Hickox, Collegium Musicum 90 / 2002 / Chaconne 0681

We look forward to seeing you at Midnight Mass and wish you a very blessed Christmas.

The weekly schedule of Chorale Masses is posted here, and printed copies are at the church entrance, along with donation envelopes. The Chorale is a non-profit organization and depends on the generosity of donors. Please send contributions to: Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, P.O. Box 4234, St. Paul, MN 55104. A few of our contributors have asked about sponsoring a specific Mass on a given Sunday. If you might be interested, please contact Virginia Schubert, the Chorale’s President, at inquiry@catholicchorale.org.

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