Bruckner's early Masses
Anton Bruckner's early Masses were settings of the Mass composed while he was a schoolteacher's assistant in Windhaag (1841-1843) and Kronstorf (1843-1845). These masses were intentionally simple, because they were intended for the meagre resources of the local village churches.
The Windhaager Messe in C major (WAB 25) is a Choral-Messe for alto solo, two horns and organ composed in 1842. It was first believed that it was composed for Maria Jobst, the alto soloist in the Windhaag church choir.<re>U. Harten, p. 282</ref> It is now stated that it was composed for her younger sister, Anna.
The work employs a text compressed to the absolute minimum and is predominantly homophonic in texture - often close to plainchant as, e.g., the initial phrase of the Kyrie and the Credo - with occasional contrapuntal interruptions. The organ part consists of the alto solo line and a mostly unfigured bass. The use of horns "adds a warm, familiar timbre to music, and helps to clarify the harmony". Total duration: 8 to 10’.
As in the Landmesse tradition the Gloria and the Credo employ only a portion of the extensive text usually associated with these sections of the Mass. Such short masses (Missa brevis) were frequently performed in Austrian country churches, especially during Advent and Lent.
The short Sanctus presents the most extensive horn parts in the work. The Benedictus, in E-flat major, is more melodic and uses a much less syllabic text setting than the rest of the work.
The final notes of the Agnus Dei recall the closing of the Credo – a small, but effective touch of musical integration.
Bruckner’s designation of this composition as a Choral-Messe referred to its simple, hymn-like style. Tonally the work follows conventional harmonic patterns, but, as Bruckner was to do throughout his life, it also contains frequent modulations, often to rather distant keys, without the uses of pivot chords. The frequent appearances of unison passages throughout this work are an additional hallmark of Bruckner’s later style.
Kronstorfer Messe and Messe für den Gründonnerstag
The Kronstorfer Messe in D minor (WAB 146), a Choral-Messe which Bruckner composed in 1843-1844 presumably for the Lenten season, survives only in a fragmentary state. It is without Gloria or Credo. The manuscript has two blank pages with an autograph indication that they were to contain a Credo. Alike the contemporaneous Asperges me in F major (WAB 4) the Agnus Dei contains audacious modulations without use of pivot chord. Total duration: about 5’.
The Messe für den Gründonnerstag, a Choral-Messe in F major (WAB 9) composed in 1844 for Maundy Thursday, contained originally no Kyrie or Gloria, but included the Gradual Christus factus est and the Offertory Dextera Domini proper for the feast. As also in the following Missa solemnis, Mass No. 1 and Mass No. 2 the first verse of the Credo is not composed and has to be intoned by the priest in Gregorian mode before the choir is going on. Only the first part of the Credo is composed, until "descendit de caelis". The Sanctus is a modified version of the Sanctus of the Kronstorfer Messe. Total duration: about 10’. The extra fugated Kyrie and Gloria, which were composed in 1845, have been lost.
Use in the modern liturgy
To make the Windhaager Messe usable for Eucharist celebration Kajetan Schmidinger and Joseph Messner made in 1927 an arrangement for mixed choir with revised Gloria and Credo, and accompaniment by organ, horns and string quintet.
To make the Messe für den Gründonnerstag usable for Eucharist celebration Messner revised in 1941 the existing movements, and created a Kyrie and a Gloria, by using elements of the Gradual and the Offertory, and organ accompaniment ad libitum.
There are a few recordings of the original settings of Bruckner's early Masses.
A selection among the recordings:
- Wolfgang Riedelbauch, Anton Bruckner - Psalm 146 and Windhaager Messe, Ingeborg Russ (Alt), LP-Colosseum SM 548, 1973.
This long out-of-print recording of the Windhaager Messe has recently been transferred to CD, together with the historical recording of the Symphony No. 0 by Hortense von Gelmini: Klassic Haus KHCD 2012-007
- Rupert Gottfried Frieberger, Anton Bruckner – Oberösterreichische Kirchenmusik, Sigrid Hagmüller (Alto) - Fabian Records CD 5112, 1995
- Ulrich Köbl, Sakrale Waldhornmusik, Cornelia Wulkopf (Alto) - CD: Ars FCD 368 304, c. 1998
- Valeri Polyansky, Bruckner - Mass in C major, Mass No. 2 in E minor, Ludmila Kunetsova (Mezzo-soprano) - Chandos CD CHAN 9863, 1998
There is a single long out-of-print recording:
- Jussi Kauranen, Tuhansin Kielin, Pirkanpojat boys' choir (Finland), 1998 - CD with limited edition by the choir-self.
Note: A live performance of the Mass (20 May 1987) by the church choir of Kronstorf, conductor Erich Nowotny, can be heard on John Berky’s website.
Messe für den Gründonnerstag
There is a single recording of the entire setting of the Mass:
- Rupert Gottfried Frieberger, Anton Bruckner – Kirchenmusikalische Werke, Vokalensemble der Stiftsmusik Schlägl - Fabian Records CD 5115, 2007
- J. Williamson, p. 43
- K. W. Kinder, p. 2
- C. van Zwol, p. 700
- K. W. Kinder, p. 3
- R. Haas, pp.40-41
- K. W. Kinder, p. 4-5
- K. W. Kinder, p. 4
- H. Schäfer, p. 188
- M. Auer, p. 48
- H. Schäfer, p. 189
- J. Garrat, p. 183
- Roelofs' commented discography of the Kronstorfer Messe
- R. Haas, pp. 41-42
- M. Auer, p. 59
- Roelofs' commented discography of the Messe für den Gründonnerstag
- U. Harten, p. 281
- R. Haas, p. 42
- C. van Zwol, p. 710
- Messe in C-dur, arrangement for mixed choir
- Roelofs' commented discography of the Windhaager Messe
- Pirkanpojat boys' choir - Recorded works
- Max Auer, Anton Bruckner. Sein Leben und Werk. Amalthea-Verlag, Vienna, c. 1950
- Robert Haas, Anton Bruckner, 2nd print (Reprint der Ausgabe Athenaion, Potsdam, 1934), Laaber Verlag, Regensburg, 1980 - ISBN 3-9215-1841-5
- Hansjürgen Schäfer, Anton Bruckner. Ein Führer durch Leben und Werk. Henschel Verlag, Berlin, 1996 – ISBN 3-7618-1590-5
- Uwe Harten, Anton Bruckner. Ein Handbuch. Residenz Verlag, Salzburg, 1996 – ISBN 3-7017-1030-9.
- Keith William Kinder, The Wind and Wind-Chorus Music of Anton Bruckner, Greenwood Press, Westport CT, 2000 - ISBN 0-313-30834-9.
- John Williamson, The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004 - ISBN 0-521-80404-3
- James Garrat, Palestrina and the German Romantic Imagination, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004 - ISBN 0-521-80737-9
- Cornelis van Zwol, Anton Bruckner - Leven en Werken, Uit. Thot, Bussum, NL, 2012 - ISBN 978-90-6868-590-9
- Commented discography of the Windhaager Messe by Hans Roelofs
- Commented discography of the Messe für den Gründonnerstag by Hans Roelofs
- Commented discography of the Kronstorfer Messe by Hans Roelofs
- Kronstorfer Messe: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project