Puneet Varma (Editor)

Mass No. 2 (Bruckner)

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Key  E minor
Form  Mass
Catalogue  WAB 27
Mass No. 2 (Bruckner)
Composed  1866 (1866): Linz (first version) 1882 (1882): Vienna (second version)
Dedication  Dedication of the Votivkapelle of the new Linz Cathedral
Performed  29 September 1869 (1869-09-29): Linz (first version) 4 October 1885 (1885-10-04): Linz (second version)

The Mass No. 2 in E minor, WAB 27, by Anton Bruckner is a setting of the mass ordinary for eight-part mixed choir and wind band (2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets and 3 trombones).



The bishop of Linz, Franz-Josef Rudigier, had already commissioned a Festive cantata from Bruckner in 1862 to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of the new cathedral, the Maria-Empfängnis-Dom. In 1866, he asked Bruckner for a mass to celebrate the accomplishment of the construction of the Votive Chapel of the new cathedral. Because of a delay in completing the construction, the celebration of the dedication didn't take place until three years later, on 29 September 1869.

Bruckner subjected the work to far-reaching revision in 1869, 1876, and 1882. The second version of 1882 was performed on 4 October 1885 in the Alter Dom, Linz.

Versions and editions

Two versions of the mass are available:

  • Version 1 of 1866, issued by Nowak in 1977
  • Version 2 of 1882
  • First edition (Doblinger, 1896), revised by Franz Schalk
  • Haas edition (1940, 1949)
  • Nowak edition (1959)
  • The differences among the two versions are described in detail at the end of the score of the 1882 version.


    The piece is based strongly on old-church music tradition, and particularly old Gregorian style singing. The Kyrie is almost entirely made up of a cappella singing for eight voices. The Gloria ends with a fugue, as in Bruckner's other masses. In the Sanctus, Bruckner uses a theme from Palestrina's Missa Brevis.

    According to the Catholic practice – as also in Bruckner’s preceding Missa solemnis and Mass No. 1 – the first verse of the Gloria and the Credo is not composed and has to be intoned by the priest in Gregorian mode before the choir goes on.

    The setting is divided into six parts.

    1. Kyrie – Ruhig Sostenuto, E minor
    2. Gloria – Allegro, C major
    3. Credo – Allegro, C major
    4. Sanctus – Andante, G major
    5. Benedictus – Moderato, C major
    6. Agnus Dei – Andante, E minor veering to E major

    Total duration: about 40 minutes

    Previously Bruckner had been criticized for "simply writing symphonies with liturgical text," and although the Cecilians were not entirely happy with the inclusion of wind instruments, "Franz Xaver Witt loved it, no doubt rationalizing the use of wind instruments as necessary under the circumstances of outdoor performance for which Bruckner wrote the piece." "The Mass in E minor ... is a work without parallel in either 19th- or 20th-century church music."

    Version 1 (1866)

    There is as yet only one out-of-print recording of a music-school performance:

  • Hans Hauseither, choir and instrumental ensemble of the BORG Wien 1, CD: issue of the BORG, 1996
  • Version 2 (1882)

    About 100 recordings of Bruckner's Mass No. 2 have been issued. The first recording of the mass was by Hermann Odermatt with the Gregorius-Chor and Orchester der Liebfrauenkirche, Zürich in 1930 (78 rpm Christschall 37-41).

    Of the recordings from the LP era, Eugen Jochum's recording with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on Deutsche Grammophon has been remastered to CD. Matthew Best's more recent recording with the Corydon Singers has been critically acclaimed. Other excellent recordings, according to Hans Roelofs, are i.a. those by Roger Norrington, Hellmut Wormsbächer, Philippe Herreweghe, Simon Halsey, Frieder Bernius, Helmuth Rilling, Marcus Creed, Winfried Toll and Otto Kargl.

  • Eugen Jochum, choir and members of the Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, LP: DG 2530 139, 1971 – CD: DG 423 127-2 (Box set of 4 CD)
  • Roger Norrington, Schütz Choir London, Philip Jones Wind Ensemble CD: London/Decca 430365, 1973
  • Hellmut Wormsbächer, Bergedorfer Kammerchor, members of the Philharmonischen Staatsorchester Hamburg, LP: Telefunken 6.41297, c. 1973 (with Schubert's Deutsche Messe); reissued on CD by the choir
  • Matthew Best, Corydon Singers and English Chamber Orchestra Wind Ensemble, CD: Hyperion CDA 66177, 1985
  • Philippe Herreweghe, Collegium Vocale Gent & Chapelle Royale Paris, Ensemble Musique oblique, CD: Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901322, 1989
  • Simon Halsey, CBSO Wind Ensemble & Chorus, Mass in E minor (No. 2) / Motets – CD: Conifer CDCF 192, 1990
  • Frieder Bernius, Kammerchor Stuttgart & Deutsche Bläserphilharmonie, CD: Sony Classical SK 48037, 1991
  • Helmuth Rilling, Gächinger Kantorei and Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, 1996: CD: Hänssler 98.119 (with Te Deum and Psalm 150)
  • Marcus Creed, SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart, Mitglieder des Radio-Sinfonieorchesters Stuttgart des SWR, Anton Bruckner – Mass in E minor - Motets – CD: Hänssler Classic SACD 93.199, 2007
  • Winfried Toll, Camerata Vocale Freiburg, brass players of L'arpa festante, CD: Ars Musici 232828, 2008
  • Otto Kargl, Domkantorei St. Pölten, Cappella Nova Graz and Blechbläserensemble, CD: ORF CD 3174, 2013
  • References

    Mass No. 2 (Bruckner) Wikipedia

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