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Lutheran masses

Michael Cox wrote (November 1, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Doug Cowling has addressed this point in several posts, to the effect that the Latin missa brevis was a Lutheran standard. The original Kyrie and Gloria of the BMM are in fact part of a group fo five such missae (correct plural?).
See also subsequent posts on this thread by Michael and Doug.
I inadvertently cut Michaels *Pax Vobiscum*, which I heartily endorse. >
Yes, Iím aware that the Latin missa brevis (short mass) was a Lutheran standard, at least in Germany in Bachís day, and that the B minor mass (BWV 232) is a Lutheran Latin mass (with Greek Kyrie) expanded to form a catholic mass, which could not be performed in its entirety in a normal Lutheran setting, only the Kyrie and Gloria actually being performed in Bachís lifetime. It draws on and refines some of the finest music in his cantatas, both church and secular, sometimes originally with a German text. Itís unnecessary in this company to go into the details. In the Finnish Lutheran church today (I donít know about other Lutheran churches), the Kyrie, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei are sung in Finnish, while the Gloria might be replaced by a hymn and the Credo (creed) is normally the Apostlesí Creed (not the Nicene Creed), recited rather than sung. Lutheranism allows for a certain amount of liturgical freedom in these matters. But the B Minor Mass (BWV 232), like Beethovenís Missa Solemnis, is far too long for a normal liturgical mass in any country. So we are left with a conundrum Ė where did these composers find their inspiration, were they composing for God, for the Church, for their art, for themselves, for posterity? I like to think that Bach was composing this mighty work firstly for God, secondly as an example in composition for his sons and pupils, and perhaps for posterity (us) too. And that it deserves to be performed in church or cathedral rather than in a secular concert hall.

And yes, missae is the Latin plural of missa.

Pax Vobiscum

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 1, 2011):
Michael Cox wrote:
< So we are left with a conundrum Ė where did these composers find their inspiration, were they composing for God, for the Church, for their art, for themselves, for posterity? I like to think that Bach was composing this mighty work firstly for God, secondly as an example in composition for his sons and pupils, and perhaps for posterity (us) too. >
EM:
Although it is impossible to prove definitively, I believe there is ample evidence to suggest that Bach considered posterity when reworking some of what must have been his favorite compositions, in the later stages of his life. That activity is easily overlooked in the bustle of the more dramatic events of composing to weekly (and other) deadlines, in his earlier Leipzig years.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 1, 2011):
Bach's legacy

Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I believe there is ample evidence to suggest that Bach considered posterity when reworking some of what must have been his favorite compositions, in the later stages of his life. >
Wolff gives a detailed and, I think, rather touching account of Bach preparing for the dispersal of library among his sons and even having a motet copied which he intended for his own funeral. Well-regulated indeed!

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 1, 2011):
Real Time Masses

Michael Cox wrote:
< But the B Minor Mass (BWV 232), like BeethovenĻs Missa Solemnis, is far too long for a normal liturgical mass in any country. So we are left with a conundrum ≠ where did these composers find their inspiration, were they composing for God, for the Church, for their art, for themselves, for posterity? >
The assumption that the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) and the Missa Solemnis are "closet" masses never intended for performance doesn't really hold up to recent scholarship. Stauffer's recent study of the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) shows that gigantic masses were a hallmark of the Chapel Royal in Dresden. He gives examples of mass settings whose lengths are the equal of Bach's.

So too Beethoven. The Missa Solemnis was commissioned as a liturgical work for an immense church-state occasion, even though Beethoven missed the deadline. It was not intended to be a concert piece. Concert performances of mass settings were prohibited in Vienna, and the premiere was in St. Petersburg where Catholic sensitivities would not be offended. The first Vienna performance was a concert setting, but the text had to be altered to German. I`m not sure when concert performances of masses became acceptable, but it must have been well into the 19th century.

Length was no impediment in an age when 3 or 4 hours in church, the concert hall or the opera was typical. Bach's largest work, the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), was performed with an hour sermon and at least another hour of hymns and motets. The Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) may have a valedictory aspect to it, but it is also a practical working mass. Romantic critics may prefer to place Bach and Beethoven in an universalist, aesthetic realm beyond their social and religious contexts, but the composers wrote their masses for real time.

Off to the MET broadcast of "Siegfried" on Saturday. It begins at noon and ends at six. No wimps allowed!

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 1, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Length was no impediment in an age when 3 or 4 hours in church, the concert >hall or the opera was typical. Bach's largest work, the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), was performed with an hour sermon and at least another hour of hymns and motets. >
I have nothing to add, just applauding the details (in real time).

Julian Mincham wrote (November 1, 2011):
Douglas Cowling:
< Off to the MET broadcast of "Siegfried" on Saturday. It begins at noon and ends at six. No wimps allowed! >
Reminds me of the critic who once wrote of Siegfried (or it may have been Parsifal) ''This is a very long opera and performances usually begin early in the evening. I settled down to the overture at 6.00 pm, the music meandered on for about three hours---at which point I looked at my watch which said a quarter past six!'

I guess it depends whether you are a Wagner-ite or not just how quickly (or slowly) the time passes.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 2, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I settled down to the overture at 6.00 pm, the music meandered on for about three hours---at which point I looked at my watch which said a quarter past six!' >
Some folks feel the same about early Schoenberg?! To stay on topic, I recall Craig Smith of Emmanuel Music once saying (he never wrote it down, as best I can tell):

There is no harmonic relation in Schoenberg that you cannot find in Bach. Now there is a real thesis topic -- refute that statement!

George Bromley wrote (November 2, 2011):
[To Julian Mincham[ Is Wagner music?

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Richard Wagner & Bach [Bach & Other Composer]

Linda Gingrich wrote (November 2, 2011):
Length was no impediment in an age when 3 or 4 hours in church, the concert hall or the opera was typical. Bach's largest work, the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), was performed with an hour sermon and at least another hour of hymns and motets.

I recently read Tanya Kevorkian's Baroque Piety. Apparently congregants in Leipzig came and went at will. Many trickled in during the first hour, arriving in time for the sermon, and then many left during communion after the sermon. And many used the first hour, perhaps the last part of the service as well (I don't remember off the top of my head) for social visiting. So perhaps long services weren't a problem for them either!

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 2, 2011):
Linda Gingrich wrote:
< Length was no impedin an age when 3 or 4 hours in church, the concert hall or the opera was typical. Bach's largest work, the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), was performed with an hour sermon and at least another hour of hymns and motets.
I recently read Tanya Kevorkian's Baroque Piety. Apparently congregants in
Leipzig came and went at will. Many trickled in during the first hour, arriving in time for the sermon, and then many left during communion after the sermon. >
This provides additional insight to Julians point that Bach could not have written his most innovative music with the intent that congregants should absorb all the details on a once-through listening.

However, perhaps the more astute congregants mamaged to wander in mostly for the music?

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 2, 2011):
Linda Gingrich wrote:
< So perhaps long services weren't a problem for them either! >
Given the accounts of conversations during 18th century services, I think we might have to accept an "oceanic" hum of conversation during the cantata. Among the a-musical and non-musical, the cantata would be a very up-town part of the service. The "Bayreuth Hush" wasn't invented for another 100 years.

 

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Last update: żNovember 26, 2011 ż18:07:53