Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More on Beethoven's Missa Solemnis

I recently came across an awesome article which I believe is all comprehensive on "Beethoven's Missa Solemnis".

Ludwig Van Beethoven often considered this Mass that he composed as his greatest achievement in his lifetime.

The History associated with "The Missa Solemnis" is awesome and fabulous.

Check this article out at the following Link:


There are musical works of such conceptual scope, majesty and grandeur that they should not be performed too often, lest they become commonplace. One thinks of the B-minor Mass and the Passions of Bach, Wagener's Ring, and a number of symphonies by Mahler.

Of these, the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven is given on a too-regular basis, and has become so well known that its sublimity is diminished, for the listener, through familiarity. Mercifully, the same has not occurred with Beethoven's Missa solemnis, because its length and difficulty ensure that performances will be relatively rare.

Beethoven was never conventionally religious. Although apparently a believer in god, his faith was pantheistic rather than confined to a particular doctrine.

The Missa solemnis was planned originally as a tribute to his friend and patron Archduke Rudolf of Austria, a son of the Emperor, on the occasion of Rudolf's elevation to the rank of Cardinal-Archbishop of Olmütz in Moravia. His investiture took place in the magnificent Gothic cathedral of Cologne in 1820, but the Missa grew beyond suitable proportions, even for such an august occasion. It was not completed until 1823.

Beethoven became obsessed in the exploring the literal meaning of the Mass text, ignoring the by-then-ossified traditional understanding not from any theological dispute with Catholic reaching, but from a desire to universalize a commonly-known text, and a typical artist's need for thoroughness. For this reason he looked back to earlier models, studying Gregorian plainchant modes and Baroque oratorios, in particular Handel's Messiah.

Evidence of these is plain throughout the Missa solemnis, particularly in the Credo. Beethoven's use of a traditional text as the foundation for an exploration of new directions is akin to Renaissance painters' use of common Biblical themes as the basis for arrangements of colors, shapes, textures and proportions. In both cases, the superficial narrative is intended to appeal to the naïve listener (including the censor); the connoisseur is expected to penetrate beyond the surface.

Read More at: http://www.bachchoir.org.hk/concerts/1998/MissaSolemnis.html

No comments: