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Following the death of Michael Arneth, Friedrich Mayr was appointed abbot of St. Florian. The Missa Solemnis was premiered on September 14, 1854, the day of Mayr's elevation. Robert Führer saw the score and suggested to Bruckner he study with Simon Sechter. Bruckner showed Sechter the mass and Sechter accepted him as a pupil, but the mass was the last major work Bruckner wrote before concluding his studies with Sechter, who did not allow his students free composition while studying with him.
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 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in E-flat, 2 trumpets in B-flat, alto, tenor and bass trombones, timpani, and strings.
The setting is divided into twelve movements.
- "Kyrie eleison..." Andante, B-flat minor, 3/8
- "Gloria in excelsis Deo..." Allegro, common time, G minor veering to B-flat major
- "Qui tollis peccata mundi..." Andante, G minor, 9/8
- "Quoniam tu solus sanctus..." Allegro, B-flat major, common time
- "Credo in unum Deum..." Allegro moderato, common time, B-flat major
- "Et incarnatus est..." Adagio, F major, common time - "Crucifixus..." F minor
- "Et ressurrexit tertia die..." Allegro, moderato, B-flat major, 3/4 - "Mortuos" Langsamer - "cujus regni" Tempo primo - "Et in spiritum Sanctum..." Sehr nachgebend
- "Et vitam venturi saeculi..." Allegro moderato, B-flat major, common time
- "Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabbaoth..." Moderato, B-flat major, 12/8
- "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini..." Moderato, E-flat major, 6/8
- "Agnus Dei..." Adagio, B-flat major, 3/4
- "Dona nobis pacem..." Allegro, B-flat major, 2/4
The Quoniam quotes from Joseph Haydn's Missa sancti Bernardi von Offida. As in Bruckner's later great masses, the setting of the words "Et resurrexit" is preceded by the "old-fashioned rethorical gesture" of a "rising chromatic figure in stile agitato representing the trembling of the earth."
The edition by Robert Haas for the Gesamtausgabe was based on the copy given to Mayr, but Leopold Nowak took advantage of phrasing marks in some violin parts which were not available to Haas.
- Anderson (1976) Robert. "Romantic Mass" 1602 The Musical Times 117 August
- Hawkshaw (2004) Paul. "Bruckner's large sacred compositions" Cambridge. The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner edited by Williamson, John. Cambridge University Press
- Howie (2004) A. Crawford. "Bruckner and the motet" Cambridge. The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner edited by Williamson, John. Cambridge University Press
- Kinder (2000) Keith William. Westport, Connecticut. The Wind and Wind-Chorus Music of Anton Bruckner Greenwood Press
- Nowak (1975) Leopold. "Foreword" Vienna Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 15: Missa Solemnis in B: Partitur Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft. Rickett (translator) Richard
- 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