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Mass in B minor

Composer: Bach Johann Sebastian

Instruments: Voice Soprano Alto Tenor Bass Mixed chorus Orchestra

Tags: Mass Religious music


Download free scores:

Complete. Complete Score PDF 26 MBComplete. 1. Kyrie PDF 2 MBComplete. 2. Gloria PDF 6 MBComplete. 3. Credo PDF 5 MBComplete. 4. Sanctus PDF 3 MBComplete. 5. Agnus Dei PDF 0 MBComplete. Appendix: Original version (vocal parts) of PDF 0 MB
Complete. Complete Score PDF 9 MB
Complete. 1. Kyrie PDF 3 MBComplete. 2. Gloria PDF 9 MBComplete. 3. Credo PDF 8 MBComplete. 4. Sanctus PDF 4 MBComplete. 5. Agnus Dei PDF 0 MB
Complete. Complete Score PDF 9 MB
Complete. II. Symbolum Nicenum PDF 45 MBComplete. III. Sanctus PDF 12 MBComplete. IV. Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei et Dona nobis pacem PDF 15 MB
Complete. Complete Score PDF 15 MB
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris (No.10). Complete Score PDF 0 MB
Crucifixus (No.17). Complete Score (organ reduction) PDF 0 MB
Selections. Incomplete Score (page 93 missing) PDF 28 MB
Complete. Complete Score PDF 22 MBComplete. I. Missa PDF 11 MBComplete. II. Symbolum Nicenum PDF 6 MBComplete. III. Sanctus PDF 1 MBComplete. IV. Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei et Dona nobis pacem PDF 2 MB
Sanctus (No.22). Complete Score (early version) PDF 21 MB

Parts for:

AllViolinViolaTrumpetTimpaniRecorderOrganOboeHarpsichordFrench hornFluteCelloBassoonBasso continuo


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Selections. Cello(2) + Viola(2) + Violin(2) (Russ Bartoli)Complete. Bassoon + Cello + Double bass + Cor anglais + Flute + Oboe + Viola + Violin(2) (Tony Kime)Selections. Cello(2) + Viola(2) + Violin(4) (Russ Bartoli)Et in Spiritum Sanctum (No.19). Cello + Viola + Violin (Peter Lange-Müller)Laudamus te (No.6). Cello + Viola(2) + Violin(2) (Peter Lange-Müller)Dona nobis pacem (No.27). Cello + Viola + Violin(2) (Russ Bartoli)Domine Deus (No.8). Cello + Viola + Violin(2) (Peter Lange-Müller)Confiteor (No.20). Cello(2) + Viola(2) + Violin(2) (Peter Lange-Müller)Et in unum Dominum (No.15). Cello + Viola + Violin(2) (Peter Lange-Müller)Credo in unum Deum (No.13). Cello(2) + Viola(2) + Violin(4) (Peter Lange-Müller)Cum Sancto Spiritu (No.12). Cello(2) + Viola(2) + Violin(2) (Russ Bartoli)Et incarnatus est (No.16). Cello(2) + Viola(2) + Violin(2) (Peter Lange-Müller)Sanctus (No.22). Cello(2) + Viola(2) + Violin(3) (Russ Bartoli)Patrem Omnipotentem (No.14). Cello(2) + Viola + Violin(2) (Russ Bartoli)


Selections. Piano (Arthur Willner)Agnus Dei (No.26). Cello + Piano (Philipp Roth)Complete. Organ (Emmanuel Legrand)Dona nobis pacem (No.27). Organ (Steve Repasky)Quoniam tu solus sanctus (No.11). Cello(4) (Peter Lange-Müller)Agnus Dei (No.26). Organ + Voice (Alain Brunet)Quoniam tu solus sanctus (No.11). Basset horn + Bassoon + String instrument (Peter Lange-Müller)Agnus Dei (No.26). String trio (Peter Lange-Müller)Agnus Dei (No.26). Organ (Alain Brunet)Christe eleison (No.2). String quartet (Peter Lange-Müller)Kyrie eleison II (No.3). String quintet (Peter Lange-Müller)Benedictus (No.24). String trio (Peter Lange-Müller)Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris (No.10). Oboe + String instrument (Peter Lange-Müller)Et in Spiritum Sanctum (No.19). Oboe + String instrument (Peter Lange-Müller)Laudamus te (No.6). For String Sextets (Lang). (Peter Lange-Müller)Gratias agimus tibi (No.7). String quartet (Peter Lange-Müller)Domine Deus (No.8). String quintet (Peter Lange-Müller)Et incarnatus est (No.16). Organ + Mixed chorus (Alain Brunet)Et in unum Dominum (No.15). Oboe + String instrument (Peter Lange-Müller)Agnus Dei (No.26). Alto saxophone + Organ (Alain Brunet)Dona nobis pacem (No.27). Organ (William Thomas Best)
The Mass in B minor (German: h-Moll-Messe), BWV 232, is an extended setting of the Mass ordinary by Johann Sebastian Bach. The composition was completed in 1749, the year before the composer's death, and was to a large extent based on earlier work, such as a Sanctus Bach had composed in 1724. Sections that were specifically composed to complete the Mass in the late 1740s include the "Et incarnatus est" part of the Credo.
As usual for its time, the composition is formatted as a Neapolitan mass, consisting of a succession of choral movements with a broad orchestral accompaniment, and sections in which a more limited group of instrumentalists accompanies one or more vocal soloists. Among the more unusual characteristics of the composition is its scale: a total performance time of around two hours, and a scoring consisting of two groups of SATB singers and an orchestra featuring an extended winds section, strings and continuo. Also its key, B minor, is rather exceptional for a composition featuring natural trumpets in D.
Even more exceptional, for a Lutheran composer such as Bach, is that the composition is a Missa tota. In Bach's day, Masses composed for Lutheran services usually consisted only of a Kyrie and Gloria. Bach had composed five such Kyrie–Gloria Masses before he completed his Mass in B minor: the Kyrie–Gloria Masses, BWV 233–236, in the late 1730s, and the Mass for the Dresden court, which would become Part I of his only Missa tota, in 1733. The Mass was likely never performed in its entirety during Bach's lifetime. Its earliest documented complete performance took place in 1859. With many dozens of recordings, it is among Bach's most popular vocal works.
On 1 February 1733, Augustus II the Strong, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania and Elector of Saxony, died. Five months of mourning followed, during which all public music-making was suspended. Bach used the opportunity to work on the composition of a Missa, a portion of the liturgy sung in Latin and common to both the Lutheran and Roman Catholic rites. His aim was to dedicate the work to the new sovereign Augustus III, a convert to Catholicism, with the hope of obtaining the title "Electoral Saxon Court Composer". Upon its completion, Bach visited Augustus III in Dresden and presented him with a copy of the Kyrie–Gloria Mass BWV 232 I (early version), together with a petition to be given a court title, dated July 27, 1733; in the accompanying inscription on the wrapper of the Mass he complains that he had "innocently suffered one injury or another" in Leipzig. The petition did not meet with immediate success, but Bach eventually got his title: he was made court composer to Augustus III in 1736.
In the last years of his life, Bach expanded the Missa into a complete setting of the Latin Ordinary. It is not known what prompted this creative effort. Wolfgang Osthoff and other scholars have suggested that Bach intended the completed Mass in B minor for performance at the dedication of the new Hofkirche in Dresden, a Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Holy Trinity, which was begun in 1738 and was nearing completion by the late 1740s. However, the building was not completed until 1751 and Bach's death in July 1750 prevented his Mass from being submitted for use at the dedication. Instead, Johann Adolph Hasse's Mass in D minor was performed, a work with many similarities to Bach's Mass (the Credo movements in both works feature chant over a walking bass line, for example). In 2013, Michael Maul published research suggesting the possibility that instead, Bach compiled it for performance in Vienna at St. Stephen's Cathedral (which was Roman Catholic) on St. Cecilia's Day in 1749, as a result of his association with Count Johann Adam von Questenberg. Other explanations are less event-specific, involving Bach's interest in 'encyclopedic' projects (like The Art of Fugue) that display a wide range of styles, and Bach's desire to preserve some of his best vocal music in a format with wider potential future use than the church cantatas they originated in (see "Movements and their sources" below).
The chronology of the Mass in B minor has attracted extensive scholarly attention. Recent literature suggests:
Bach did not give the B minor Mass a title. Instead, he organized the 1748–49 manuscript into four folders, each with a different title. That containing the Kyrie and Gloria he called "1. Missa"; that containing the Credo he titled "2. Symbolum Nicenum"; the third folder, containing the Sanctus, he called "3. Sanctus"; and the remainder, in a fourth folder he titled "4. Osanna | Benedictus | Agnus Dei et | Dona nobis pacem". John Butt writes, "The format seems purposely designed so that each of the four sections could be used separately." On the other hand, the parts in the manuscript are numbered from 1 to 4, and Bach's usual closing formula (S.D.G = Soli Deo Gloria) is only found at the end of the Dona Nobis Pacem. Further, Butt writes, "What is most remarkable about the overall shape of the Mass in B Minor is that Bach managed to shape a coherent sequence of movements from diverse material." Butt and George Stauffer detail the ways in which Bach gave overall musical unity to the work.
The first overall title given to the work was in the 1790 estate of the recently deceased C.P.E. Bach, who inherited the score. There, it is called "Die Grosse Catholische Messe" (the "Great Catholic Mass"). It is called that as well in the estate of his last heir in 1805, suggesting to Stauffer that "the epithet reflects an oral tradition within the Bach family". The first publication of the Kyrie and Gloria, in 1833 by the Swiss collector Hans Georg Nägeli with Simrock, refers to it as "Messe" Finally, Nageli and Simrock produced the first publication in 1845, calling it the "High Mass in B Minor" (Hohe Messe in h-moll). The adjective "high", Butt argues, was "strongly influenced by the monumental impact of Beethoven's Missa solemnis." It soon fell from common usage, but the prepositional phrase "in B Minor" survives, even though it is in some ways misleading: only five of the work's 27 movements are in B minor, while twelve, including the final ones of each of the four major sections, are in D major (the relative major of B minor). The opening Kyrie, however, is in B minor, with the Christe Eleison in D major, and the second Kyrie in F-sharp minor; as Butt points out, these tonalities outline a B minor chord.
The piece is orchestrated for two flutes, two oboes d'amore (doubling on oboes), two bassoons, one natural horn (in D), three natural trumpets (in D), timpani, violins I and II, violas and basso continuo (cellos, basses, bassoons, organ and harpsichord). A third oboe is required for the Sanctus.
Bach conducted the Sanctus, in its first version, at the 1724 Christmas service in Leipzig, and re-used it in Christmas services in the mid-1740s. Scholars differ on whether he ever performed the 1733 Missa. Arnold Schering (in 1936) asserted that it was performed in Leipzig on April 26, 1733, when Augustus III of Poland visited the town, but modern scholars reject his argument for several reasons:
Scholars differ, however, on whether the Missa was performed in July in Dresden. Christoph Wolff argues that on July 26, 1733 at the Sophienkirche in Dresden, where Wilhelm Friedemann Bach had been organist since June, it "was definitely performed ... as evidenced by the extant Dresden performing parts and by the inscription on the title wrapper" given to the king the next day. Hans-Joachim Schulze made this case by pointing to the use of the past tense in the wrapper's inscription: "To his royal majesty was shown with the enclosed Missa ... the humble devotion of the author J. S. Bach." However, Joshua Rifkin rejects the argument, pointing out that the past-tense wording was typical of formal address often not related to performance. Also skeptical is Peter Williams, who notes that "there is no record of performers being assembled for such an event, and in August 1731 Friedemann reported that the Sophienkirche organ was badly out of tune." However, there is evidence of an organ recital by Bach at the Sophienkirche on 14 September 1731, and Friedemann Bach was only chosen as Organist for the institution on 23 June 1733. He would again perform a 2-hour Organ recital on 1 December 1736 at the Frauenkirche Dresden to inaugurate the new Gottfried Silbermann organ.
Scholars agree that no other public performances took place in Bach's lifetime, although Butt raises the possibility that there may have been a private performance or read-through of the Symbolum Nicenum late in Bach's life.
The first public performance of the Symbolum Nicenum section (under the title "Credo or Nicene Creed") took place 36 years after Bach's death, in Spring of 1786, led by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach at a benefit concert for the Medical Institute for the Poor in Hamburg.
As recounted by George Stauffer, the next documented performance (not public) in the nineteenth century was when Carl Friedrich Zelter—a key figure in the 19th-century Bach revival—led the Berlin Singakademie in read-throughs of the "Great Mass" in 1811, covering the Kyrie; in 1813 he led read-throughs of the entire work. The first public performance in the century—of just the Credo section—took place in Frankfurt in March, 1828, with over 200 performers and many instrumental additions. In the same year in Berlin, Gaspare Spontini led the Credo section, adding 15 new choral parts and numerous instruments. A number of performances of sections of the Mass took place in the following decades in Europe, but the first attested public performance of the Mass in its entirety took place in 1859 in Leipzig, with Karl Riedel and the Riedel-Verein. The first performance of the Mass in the UK was given by The Bach Choir, newly formed for this purpose by conductor Otto Goldschmidt, in 1876 in St James's Hall, London.
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem performed the American premiere of the complete Mass on March 27, 1900, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, though there is evidence that parts of the Mass had been performed in the United States as early as 1870.
From early in the century, authors such as Albert Schweitzer, Arnold Schering, and Frederick Smend called for smaller performance forces, and experiments with (relatively) smaller groups began in the late 1920s.
The first complete recording of the work was made in 1929, with a large choir and the London Symphony Orchestra led by Albert Coates. As of 2013, a database lists over 200 recordings with many different types of forces and performance styles. The work has played a central role in the 'historical performance movement' : Nikolaus Harnoncourt made the first recording with "period instruments" in 1968, his second Bach choral recording. Joshua Rifkin's first recording using the one-voice-per-part vocal scoring he proposes was made in 1982, and won a 1983 Gramophone Award.
The Mass in B minor is widely regarded as one of the supreme achievements of classical music. Alberto Basso summarizes the work as follows:
The Mass in B minor is the consecration of a whole life: started in 1733 for "diplomatic" reasons, it was finished in the very last years of Bach's life, when he had already gone blind. This monumental work is a synthesis of every stylistic and technical contribution the Cantor of Leipzig made to music. But it is also the most astounding spiritual encounter between the worlds of Catholic glorification and the Lutheran cult of the cross.
Scholars have suggested that the Mass in B minor belongs in the same category as The Art of Fugue, as a summation of Bach's deep lifelong involvement with musical tradition—in this case, with choral settings and theology. Bach scholar Christoph Wolff describes the work as representing "a summary of his writing for voice, not only in its variety of styles, compositional devices, and range of sonorities, but also in its high level of technical polish ... Bach's mighty setting preserved the musical and artistic creed of its creator for posterity."
The Mass was described in the 19th century by the editor Hans Georg Nägeli as "The Announcement of the Greatest Musical Work of All Times and All People" ("Ankündigung des größten musikalischen Kunstwerkes aller Zeiten und Völker"). Even though it had never been performed, its importance was appreciated by some of Bach's greatest successors: by the beginning of the 19th century Forkel and Haydn possessed copies.
Two autograph sources exist: the parts for the Kyrie and Gloria sections that Bach deposited in Dresden in 1733, and the score of the complete work that Bach compiled in 1748–50, which was inherited by C.P.E. Bach (the autograph has been published in facsimile from the source in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. However, for his 1786 public performance of the Symbolum Nicenum, C.P.E. Bach, as was typical practice in the era, made additions to the autograph score for performance by adding a 28-bar introduction, replacing the now-obsolete oboe d'amore with newer instruments (clarinets, oboes, or violins) and making other changes in instrumentation for his own aesthetic reasons. C.P.E. also wrote in his own solutions to reading some passages made nearly illegible by his father's late-life handwriting problems.
For this and other reasons, the Mass in B minor poses a considerable challenge to prospective editors, and substantial variations can be noted in different editions, even critical urtext editions. The Bach Gesellschaft edition, edited by Julius Rietz, was published in 1856 based on several sources but without direct access to the autograph. When access was later obtained, the textual problems were so evident that the society published a revised edition the next year. The 1857 edition was the standard for the next century, but was later recognized to be even less accurate than the 1856 version due to inadvertent incorporation of C.P.E. Bach's alterations in the autograph. Similarly, the 1954 edition by Friedrich Smend for the Neue Bach-Ausgabe was shown to have significant faults within five years of publication.
Christoph Wolff's edition, published by C.F. Peters in 1997, uses two copies of the 1748–50 manuscript made before C.P.E. Bach's adulterations to try to reconstruct Bach's original readings, and seeks to recover performance details by using all available sources, including cantata movements that Bach reworked in the B minor Mass. Joshua Rifkin's edition, published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 2006, also seeks to remove the C.P.E. Bach emendations, but differs from Wolff in arguing that the 1748–50 work is, to quote John Butt, "essentially a different entity from the 1733 Missa, and that a combination of the 'best' readings from both does not really correspond to Bach's final (and virtually completed) conception of the work"; Rifkin's version seeks to adhere to this final version.
Uwe Wolf's edition, published by Bärenreiter in 2010, relies upon x-ray spectrograph technology to differentiate J.S. Bach's handwriting from the additions made by C.P.E. Bach and others. Ulrich Leisinger's edition, published by Carus in 2014, accepts some of C.P.E. Bach's revisions and uses the 1733 Dresden parts as the primary source for the Kyrie and Gloria.
The work consists of 27 sections. Tempo and metrical information and parodied cantata sources come from Christoph Wolff's 1997 critical urtext edition, and from George Stauffer's Bach: The Mass in B Minor. except where noted. Regarding sources, Stauffer, summarizing current research as of 1997, states that "Specific models or fragments can be pinpointed for eleven of the work's twenty-seven movements" and that "two other movements [the "Domine Deus" and "Et resurrexit"] are most probably derived from specific, now lost sources." But Stauffer adds "there is undoubtedly much more borrowing than this." Exceptions are the opening four bars of the first Kyrie, the Et incarnatus est and Confiteor.
Butt points out that "only with a musical aesthetic later than Bach's does the concept of parody (adapting existing vocal music to a new text) appear in an unfavourable light" while it was "almost unavoidable" in Bach's day. He further notes that "by abstracting movements from what he evidently considered some of his finest vocal works, originally performed for specific occasions and Sundays within the Church's year, he was doubtless attempting to preserve the pieces within the more durable context of the Latin Ordinary." Details of the parodied movements and their sources are given below.
Note the nine (trinitarian, 3 × 3) movements that follow with a largely symmetrical structure, and the Domine Deus in the centre.
Note the nine movements with the symmetrical structure and the crucifixion at the centre.
As of 2015, 237 recordings are listed on bach-cantatas, beginning with the first recording by a symphony orchestra and choir to match, conducted by Albert Coates. Beginning in the late 1960s, historically informed performances paved the way for recordings with smaller groups, boys choirs and ensembles playing "period instruments", and eventually to recordings using the one-voice-on-a-vocal-part scoring first argued for by Joshua Rifkin in 1982.