Josef Rheinberger’s Mass in C Major

Josef Rheinberger, Mass in C Major, Op. 169 (1892)

Born in Liechtenstein, the son of the Treasurer of the Prince of Liechtenstein, Josef Rheinberger (b.Vaduz1839; d.Munich1901) gained recognition as an organist, composer and professor while at the Munich Conservatory. In 1877 he obtained the rank of court conductor, a position that gave him responsibility for the music in the royal chapel of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the “Mad King Ludwig” of Schloss Neuschwanstein fame. He was later awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Rheinberger was a superb counterpointist who wrote at least 18 Masses. One reviewer described Rheinberger’s style of church music as “romantically sumptuous yet classically refined.” His overriding criterion was beauty: “Music that does not sound beautiful has no attraction for me.” It didn’t bother Rheinberger that his compositions broke no new musical ground, and he resisted the Cecilian Movement’s efforts to return church music to the “purity” of plainchant and Renaissance polyphony. The Cecilian Movement was founded in 1868 in response to the near-disappearance of traditional plainchant and Renaissance polyphony forms in Roman Catholic worship.     (29:36)

Rheinberger’s Mass in C 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 Mass in C Major was first presented by the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale & Orchestra as part of the 1996-1997 season. The Chorale & Orchestra last presented this Mass on April 8, 2018.

Recommended Listening:

  • Rheinberger: Mass in C Major, Op. 169 / Robertson: Church of the Holy Ghost Choir & Orchestra / Liszt Digital / 2001

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