Posted by: rbbadger | September 2, 2009


Like so many composers before and after them, both Haydn and Mozart composed music for the Church.  Even the Russians, such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmanninoff, composed music for the Russian Orthodox Church.  Haydn was the kappelmeister, or director of music for the Esterházy family.  Mozart was in the employ of the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg for a time, though he and Archbishop Colloredo never got on.  Archbishop Colloredo did not want lengthy Masses, so many of the Masses that Mozart composed are rather short.  Haydn, while not technically a church musician, was nevertheless responsible for composing music for the chapel of the Esterházy princes.  J.S. Bach was a church musician in that apart from a period in the employ of the Duke of Weimar and the Duke of Anhalt-Cöthen, most of his musical career was spent providing music for the Lutheran parishes which employed him. 

This music may seem operatic.  Some might see it as wholly unsuited for the worship of the Church.  However, the Masses of Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, Bruckner, and others were meant for worship.  In Austria, many of these works are still played at Mass, although in many places, such things don’t take place as frequently as they do in others.  The Stephansdom, the Gothic cathedral of the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, features one of the most impressive church music programmes around.  At the 10:15 AM High Masses, you are likely to hear Haydn, Schubert, Mozart, or Bruckner.  So this excerpt from Haydn’s Paukenmesse (also known as the Missa in Tempore Belli) would probably appear on the programme at some point. 

I haven’t been to very many Masses where these works have been performed.  However, rare indeed is the parish which can marshal the orchestral, vocal, and choral forces together to perform them.  Denver’s Holy Ghost Catholic Church seems able to marshal such forces together not infrequently, as does Chicago’s St. John Cantius Catholic Church.  In 1985, Herbert von Karajan, the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Wiener Singverein, and four soloists were invited to perform Mozart’s Krönungsmesse at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for a Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II.  Such things, however, are rare occurrences even in the Vatican.  In Austria, you’re a bit more likely to stumble across them.

However, this is a part of Austria’s spiritual and cultural patrimony, so it is just as well as that they are performed where they were intended, in a church.

Here is Leonard Bernstein conducting the Gloria from Haydn’s Paukenmesse.  It comes in two parts.



  1. Thanks for giving us some culture! Hope you are doing well! Is it starting to cool off there yet?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: