Mozart’s Missa Brevis in F Major

This Mass was composed when W.A. Mozart (b.Salzburg1756; d.Vienna1791) was 18.  It was completed in Salzburg, in June of 1774, while Mozart was in the employment of Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Graf von Colloredo. Following his enthronement as Prince-Archbishop in 1772, the Count decreed that Masses – music and all – not last more than 45 minutes. This accounts for Mozart’s designation of eight of his Masses as missa brevis or “brief mass”. While the Missa Brevis in F is one of Mozart’s brief Masses, it is none the less a complete work for chorus, orchestra, and soloists.  It is scored for soloists, SATB chorus, 2 trumpets (which Mozart added later), 3 trombones, 2 violins, bass, and organ. The Credo of this Mass features the “Do-Re-Fa-Mi” plainchant motif, which Mozart reprised 14 years later as the main theme to the fourth and final movement (Molto Allegro) of his final symphony – Symphony No. 41 in C Major, “Jupiter”, K 551 (1788).  Arthur Mendel, the editor of the score used by the Chorale for this Mass, states that, “The work is one of the miracles of music – a miracle of brevity and of childlike simplicity of spirit.” A miracle ironically, that may not have occurred without Archbishop Colloredo’s strict 45 minute rule! Before his death in 2007, Monsignor Richard J. Schuler, the Chorale’s founding Music Director, suggested this Mass and the Mass No. 8, Missa Brevis No. 4 in D Major, K 194, (1774), be added to the list of works the Chorale & Orchestra present. Both have proven to be excellent additions to the Chorale’s growing repertory.    (21:19)

Recommended Listening:

Mozart: Salzburger Kirchenmusik 1774 / Neumann: Collegium Classicum Koln / 1985 / Carus 83103CD

Mozart: Chorale Works / Matt: Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester / 2011 / Brilliant Classics 94264

Mozart: Symphony Nos. 41 & 34 / Hogwood: Academy of Ancient Music / 2007 / L’Oiseau Lyre 411658

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