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Mass No. 3 (Bruckner)

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The Mass No. 3 in F minor WAB 28 by Anton Bruckner is a setting of the mass ordinary for vocal soloists, chorus, orchestra and organ. After the 1867 success of Bruckner's Mass No. 1 in D minor, he was commissioned "to write a new Mass for the Burgkapelle."[1] Bruckner wrote the first version between Septembers 1867 - 1868,[2] in Linz (just before his move to Vienna)[3] made slight revisions in 1877 and 1881, in preparation for performances at the Hofkapelle,[4] mainly to address "difficulties of execution"[5] but also to take into account what he had learned from studying Mozart's Requiem,[6] correcting some instances of parallel octaves if not justified by Mozart's example,[7] In the 1890s Bruckner was still revising the work,[8] but there were very little changes made to the vocal parts after 1868.[9]

The composer dedicated the piece Hofrat Imhof at "the last minute."[10] Leopold Nowak, however, believed that the piece was actually dedicated to conductor Johann Herbeck.[11]

The quartet of vocal soloists consists of a soprano, an alto, a tenor, and a bass, while the choir consists of sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses. The orchestra consists of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in B-flat), 2 bassoons, 2 horns in F, 2 trumpets in C, alto, tenor and bass trombones, contrabass tuba, timpani, and strings.

The setting is divided into six movements.

  1. "Kyrie eleison..." Moderato, common time, F minor
  2. "Gloria in excelsis Deo..." Allegro, common time, C major - "Qui tollis peccata mundi..." Andante, mehr Adagio (Sehr langsam), 3/4, D minor - "Quoniam tu solus sanctus..." Tempo I, common time, C major - "Amen, in gloria Dei patris..." Ziemlich langsam, cut time
  3. "Credo in unum Deum..." Allegro, cut time, C major - "Et incarnatus est..." Moderato misterioso, common time, E major - "Crucifixus e tiam pro nobis..." Langsam, E-flat major - Largo - "Et ressurrexit tertia die..." Allegro, common time, C major - "Et in Spiritum sanctum..." Tempo I, cut time - "Qui cum Patre et Filio..." Moderato, 3/4, G major - "Et exspecto ressurrectionem..." Allegro, common time, C major - "Et vitam venturi saeculi..." Etwas langsamer als anfangs (weil 4/4 Takt ist)
  4. "Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabbaoth..." Moderato, common time, F major - "Pleni sunt coeli et terra..." Allegro, 3/4
  5. "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini..." Allegro moderato, common time, A-flat major - "Hosanna in excelsis..." Allegro, 3/4, F major
  6. "Agnus Dei..." Andante, common time, F minor - "Dona nobis pacem..." Moderato, F major

Whereas the Gloria ends with a fugue in all Bruckner's masses, it is only in No. 3 that the Credo also ends with a fugue, a "classical feature."[12] Note that the Credo starts out with the words "Credo in unum Deum" sung by the whole choir, rather than intoned by a soloist, as in Bruckner's previous masses.

The first rehearsals, conducted by Johann Herbeck at the Augustinerkirche, took place in 1868 or 1869, but "were badly attended by orchestral players" and were "generally unsuccessful."[13] Ultimately, Herbeck found the mass "too long and unsingable."[14] After various delays, the mass was finally premiered on June 16, 1872, at the Augustinerkirche,[15] with Bruckner himself conducting.[16] Herbeck changed his opinion of the piece, claiming to know only two masses: this one and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.[17][18] Franz Liszt and even Eduard Hanslick praised the piece.[19] In some later performances, Bruckner was in the organ loft rather than on the podium.[20] At a November 1893 performance of this mass, Johannes Brahms "applauded ... so enthusiastically ... that Bruckner personally thanked him."[21]

Bruckner's Symphony No. 2 quotes both the Kyrie,[22] and the Benedictus.[23][24].

Bruckner make four succesive revisions of the work, in 1876, 1877, 1881 and from 1890 to 1893.[25] The first edition was published in 1894, but it contained "numerous spurious performance directions and articulations as well as massive reorchestration, particularly of the winds."[26] Bruckner was angry when he saw it in print, and annotated instances of parallel octaves which he had eliminated in his own revisions.[27] In 1944, Robert Haas put out an edition as part of the Gesamtausgabe, which was superseded by Leopold Nowak's edition of 1960 and again just recently by Paul Hawkshaw's of 2005. These three editors had access to various manuscripts and contemporary copies. Hans Ferdinand Redlich, on the other hand, did not for his Eulenburg Edition, and complained of being denied access by Nowak.[28]

Of the recordings from the LP era, Eugen Jochum's recording with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on Deutsche Grammophon[29] has been remastered to CD. Matthew Best's more recent recording with the Corydon Singers has been critically acclaimed, particularly for Best's not toning down "the Wagnerian element in the gorgeous Benedictus."[30]


  1. p. [blank], Nowak (1960)
  2. p. 19, Simpson (1967)
  3. p. 48, Schönzeler (1978)
  4. p. 18, Hawkshaw (1997)
  5. p. 31, Hawkshaw (1997)
  6. p. 19, Hawkshaw (1997)
  7. p. 395, Jackson (1997)
  8. p. XII, Hawkshaw (2005)
  9. p. 8, Hawkshaw (1997)
  10. p. 35, Redlich (1967)
  11. p. XI, Hawkshaw (2005)
  12. p. 50, Hawkshaw (2004)
  13. p. 35, Redlich (1967)
  14. p. XI, Hawkshaw (2005)
  15. p. 35, Redlich (1967)
  16. p. 3, Hawkshaw (1997)
  17. p. 26, Watson (1996)
  18. p. 60, Schönzeler (1978)
  19. p. 60, Schönzeler (1978)
  20. p. 3, Hawkshaw (1997)
  21. pp. 126 - 127, n. 2, Kinder (2000)
  22. p. 62, Simpson (1967)
  23. p. 54, Simpson (1967)
  24. p. 193, Brown (2002)
  25. p. 18, Hawkshaw (1997)
  26. p. 30, Hawkshaw (1997)
  27. p. 31, Hawkshaw (1997)
  28. p. 40, Redlich (1967)
  29. p. 28, Lovallo (1991)
  30. p. 361, Johnson (2008)
  • Brown (2002) A. Peter. Indianapolis The second golden age of the Viennese symphony: Brahms, Bruckner, Dvořák, Mahler, and selected contemporaries Indiana University Press
  • Hawkshaw (1997) Paul. "An anatomy of change: Anton Bruckner's Revisions to the Mass in F minor" Cambridge. Bruckner Studies edited by Timothy L. Jackson and Paul Hawkshaw. Cambridge University Press
  • Hawkshaw (2004) Paul. "Bruckner's large sacred compositions" Cambridge. The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner edited by Williamson, John. Cambridge University Press
  • Hawkshaw (2005) Paul. "Foreword" Vienna Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 18: Messe F-Moll: Studienpartitur Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft
  • Kinder (2000) Keith William. Westport, Connecticut. The Wind and Wind-Chorus Music of Anton Bruckner Greenwood Press
  • Jackson (1997) Timothy. August "Bruckner's 'Oktaven'" No. 3 Music & Letters Vol. 78
  • Johnson (2008) Stephen. "Anton Bruckner, Masses no.s 1 - 3" New York. 1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die Rye (editor) Matthew. Universe
  • Lovallo (1991) Lee T. "Mass no. 3 in f minor" New York. Anton Bruckner: a Discography Rowman & Littlefield
  • Nowak (1960) Leopold. "Preface" Vienna Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 18: Messe F-Moll: Studienpartitur Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft. Schönfeldt (translator) Christl
  • Redlich (1967) Hans Ferdinand. "Preface" London Mass in F minor (revision of 1881) Ernst Eulenburg, Ltd
  • Schönzeler (1978) Hans-Hubert. London. Bruckner Marion Boyars
  • Simpson (1967) Robert. London. The Essence of Bruckner: An essay towards the understanding of his music Victor Gollancz Ltd
  • Watson (1975) Derek. London. Bruckner J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd

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