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Messe solennelle (Hector Berlioz)

Date

1825

Text

Composed in the second half of 1824, Hector Berlioz’s Messe solennelle has had a chequered history. This commission, from the choirmaster at the Church of Saint-Roch, gave the young composer an opportunity to show Paris audiences what he could do as a lyric composer. The work was performed for the first time in that church on 10 July 1825 under the baton of conductor, Henri Valentino. It was performed again at the church of Saint-Eustache two years later. After Berlioz had claimed to have destroyed the score, the mass was thought lost until it was rediscovered, in 1992, by organist and choirmaster, Frans Moors, in the St Charles Borromeo church in Antwerp. The score, found in the organ gallery, was in Berlioz’s handwriting. The composer may have given it to musician, Antoine Bessems, in thanks for services rendered. Apart from its aesthetic interest, this find sheds important light on the study of the composer’s compositional processes. The discovery of this mass has enabled Berliozian musicologists to identify instances where parts of this score were reused in several other works. In particular, the beginning of the Gratias can be found in the “Scène aux champs” from the Symphonie fantastique (third movement). The work was published for the first time in 1994 by Bärenreiter. The thirteen movements of the score provide a setting of the Ordinary of the mass, in other words, the part that remains unchanged throughout the year (KyrieGloriaCredoSanctusAgnus Dei), within the framework of which Berlioz elected to give particular emphasis to certain passages of the Gloria (Gratias) and the Credo (IncarnatusCrucifixus and Resurrexit). The mass was written for three soloists (soprano, tenor and bass), choir and orchestra.

    Work - 1
  • Roman Carnival Overture (Hector Berlioz)
  • Person - 1
  • BERLIOZ, Hector (1803-1869)
  • Theme - 1
  • Genre – La musique sacrée au XIXe siècle