Joseph Haydn’s Mariazellermesse

Mass No. 8 in C Major “Missa Cellensis”, “Mariazellermesse” (Mary in the Cell Mass) (H. XXII:8) (1782)

Mariazell is a village in the province of Steiermark, where the Austrian national shrine, Mater Austriae, is located. The name “Mariazell” means “Mary in the cell,” a reference to the cell of Brother Magnus, a Benedictine monk who carried a lime-tree wood statue of Mary to this site in 1157 and founded a chapel there. Ailing visitors who prayed before the statue reported miraculous cures, and by the 17th century more than 300,000 pilgrims visited the shrine annually. For over 800 years, the great basilica dedicated to Our Lady at Mariazell has been a place of pilgrimage for Central and Eastern Europe. In the center of the great baroque church is the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of Grace) with its silver altar and ancient statue of Our Lady vested in brocaded robes. On September 8, 1908, Pope Pius X travelled to Mariazell and “canonically crowned” the Great Mother Austria. In September of 2007 Pope Benedict XVI, accompanied by 30,000 pilgrims, traveled to the basilica in the Styrian Alps to celebrate the 850th anniversary of the founding of the shrine. Joseph Haydn (b.Rohrau,1732; d.Vienna,1809) composed his Missa Cellensis in 1782, but it was probably not presented at Mariazell, since it is unlikely that the musical forces needed for its performance could be found in so remote a place. Rather, the Mass was probably initially presented in Vienna for a society that fostered pilgrimages to the shrine. The fugues that close the Gloria, Credo, and Agnus Dei are masterful examples of choral composition, which form musical segues back to the Masses of the Renaissance masters. The orchestration for this Mass, composed in the key of C major, requires strings, two oboes, two trumpets and tympani. Because of the liturgical restrictions imposed by Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (r.1765-1790), Haydn did not create another Mass until 1796, when he composed the Paukenmesse (Mass No. 10 in C Major ‘Missa in tempore belli, H. XXII:9) and the Heiligmesse (Mass No. 9 in B-flat Major ‘Missa Sancti Bernardi von Offida, H. XXII:10), both of which are in the repertoire of the Chorale. The Heiligmesse will be presented by the Chorale & Orchestra on June 9, 2019, Pentecost Sunday.   (33:59)

(Adapted from an undated and unpublished note by Monsignor Richard J. Schuler)

Haydn’s Mariazellermesse 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 Mariazellermesse was first presented by the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale & Orchestra as part of its 1974-1975 inaugural Orchestra Mass season. The Chorale & Orchestra last presented this Mass on May 6, 2018.

Recommended Listening:

  • Haydn: Mariazellermesse; Paukenmesse / Burdick: REBEL Baroque Orchestra; Trinity Choir / 2010 / Naxos 8.572124

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