Joseph Haydn’s Paukenmesse

Mass No. 10 in C Major “Missa in Tempore Belli” (Mass in Time of War), “Paukenmesse” (Kettledrum Mass) (H.XXII:9) (1796)

Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (r.1780-1790), often called “Joseph the Sacristan”, made so many rules restricting liturgical music that Joseph Haydn (b.Rohrau,1732;d.Vienna,1809) discontinued composing Mass settings in 1782, after his composition of the Mariazellermesse (Mass No. 8 in C Major “’Missa Cellensis” (H.XXII:8).  As a result there is a gap of twelve years, between the composition of the Mariazellermesse and the Paukenmesse. Haydn composed the Paukenmesse at Eisenstadt, while Kapellmeister to Prince Nikolaus II Esterházy (r.1794–1833), to commemorate the name day (September 12, the Most Holy Name of Mary) of Princess Marie Hermengild, the wife of Nikolaus II. Because it was composed at the time of Austria’s general mobilization for war against the French Empire, the powerful Paukenmesse was subtitled by Haydn as the Missa in Tempore Belli (Mass in Time of War). During the French Army’s First Italian Campaign the Holy Roman Empire feared invasion. In August of 1796 Holy Roman Emperor Franz II (r.1792-1806) proclaimed a general mobilization and forbade any discussion of peace until the French were driven back to their “customary borders.” Haydn was moved to create his masterpiece to assist in this mobilization, as the “sounds of war” were heard approaching the Austrian border. The tympani rolls and trumpet fanfares of the Agnus Dei have a military feel, in contrast with the demands for peace sung by the choir in the Dona nobis pacem. Of particular beauty and fame is the Qui tollis, the bass solo with solo cello obbligato in the Gloria; the Benedictus, with its midpoint mode shift from minor to major tone; and the prominent tympani (pauken) drum roll in the Agnus Dei, from which the Austrian nickname Paukenmesse (“Tympani” or “Kettledrum” Mass) has its origins. In the key of C major, the orchestration calls for the usual strings, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two trumpets, and of course the pauken! The Paukenmesse was the first of the large Haydn works that the Chorale studied. During the Chorale’s European trip in 1974, when it participated in the Sixth International Church Music Congress in Salzburg organized by the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae (CIMS), the Chorale sang this Mass in the Alte Peterskirche (Old Saint Peter’s Church) in central Munich on the Solemnity of the Assumption. This event was the founding director Monsignor Richard J. Schuler’s inspiration for the Chorale’s residency at Saint Agnes (46:52)

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

The Paukenmesse is conducted by Chorale music director Robert L. Peterson.  Mary E. LeVoir is the organist with soloists Patricia Kent, soprano; Jocelyn Kalajian, contralto; John deCausmeaker, tenor; and Jon Nordstrom, bass. The Schola Cantorum is directed by Paul W. LeVoir.  The Paukenmesse was in the repertory of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale & Orchestra prior to its residency at the Church of Saint Agnes in 1974.  The Chorale and Orchestra last presented this Mass on October 15, 2017. The Paukenmesse was recorded by the Chorale in 1986 and is available for purchase from the Leaflet Missal Co. at

Recommended Listening:

  • Haydn: Haydn at Saint Agnes / Schuler, Twin Cities Catholic Chorale & Orchestra / 1986 / Leaflet Missal
  • Haydn: Paukenmesse / Bernstein, Bayerischen Rundfunks Symphonie Orchester & Chor / 1984 / Philips 412 734-2
  • Haydn: Mariazellermesse; Paukenmesse / Burdick, REBEL Baroque Orchestra / 2010 / Naxos 8.572124



Interested in receiving our newsletter or learning more about the Chorale? Drop us a line!

Church of St. Agnes