The Glagolitic Mass (Czech: Glagolská mše or Mša glagolskaja) (also called Missa Glagolitica or Slavonic Mass) is a composition for soloists (soprano, contralto, tenor, bass), double chorus, organ and orchestra by Leoš Janáček. The work was completed on 15 October 1926 and premiered by the Brno Arts Society, conducted by Jaroslav Kvapil, in Brno on 5 December 1927. Janáček revised the mass the next year.
The word "glagolitic" is defined as an adjective meaning "of, relating to, or denoting a Slavic alphabet whose invention is attributed to Saint Cyril, preserved only in certain Roman Catholic liturgical books found in Dalmatia" [C19: from New Latin 'glagoliticus', from Serbo-Croat 'glagolica' the Glagolitic alphabet; related to Old Church Slavonic 'glagolŭ' word].
The text is in Old Church Slavonic, with five vocal movements that correspond to the Catholic Ordinary of the Mass, omitting "Dona nobis pacem" in the Agnus Dei. The musical origins of the work can be traced to Janáček's Latin setting of the Kyrie, Agnus Dei, and Credo for organ and chorus. This was used as a dictation exercise by his composition students in 1908.
Janáček had extensive experience working with choirs, as well as writing a large amount of choral music, and this work is his finest in the genre. It begins and closes with triumphant fanfares dominated by the brass. In between these sections lies particularly vibrant and rhythmic writing for solo voices as well as choir. Before the closing Intrada, Janáček introduces a dramatic organ solo of considerable originality – a perpetuo moto of wild energy. Janáček's Glagolitic Mass is considered one of the century's masterworks and is frequently performed and recorded today.
Janáček was a strong supporter of pan-Slavism, and this mass has been viewed as a celebration of Slavic culture.
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Its eight movements are:
- Úvod – Introduction (orchestra)
- Gospodi pomiluj – Kyrie
- Slava – Gloria
- Vĕruju – Credo
- Svet – Sanctus
- Agneče Božij – Agnus Dei
- Varhany sólo (Postludium) – Organ solo
- Intrada – Exodus
Although this version is considered the "standard" version performed today, research into Janáček's manuscripts suggests that the Intrada was intended to be played at the beginning of the work as well, creating a symmetric nine-movement form with the Vĕruju at its center. In addition, several other sections of the work were revealed to have been simplified in meter and orchestration. Some of the movements are reworkings of Janáček's earlier compositions: the Svet, for instance, is derived from the Sanctus of the composer's own Mass in E flat.
The mass is scored for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass soloists, double SATB choir, and an orchestra of 4 flutes (2-4 doubling piccolos), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 3 clarinets (3rd doubling bass clarinet), 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, glockenspiel, triangle, snare drum, cymbals, tam-tam, chimes, 2 harps, celesta, organ, and strings (1st & 2nd violins, violas, cellos, and double basses).
- Břetislav Bakala conducting the Brno Radio Symphony Orchestra (rec. 1951, Supraphon)
- Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic (rec. 1963, Sony)
- Karel Ančerl conducting the Czech Philharmonic, (rec. 1963, Supraphon)
- Rafael Kubelík conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (rec. 1964, Deutsche Grammophon)
- Rudolf Kempe conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (rec. 1973, Decca)
- František Jílek conducting the Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra (rec. 1979, Supraphon)
- Sir Simon Rattle conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (rec. 1981, EMI Classics)
- Sir Charles Mackerras conducting the Czech Philharmonic (rec. 1984, Supraphon)
- Michael Gielen conducting the SWR Symphony Orchestra (rec. 1988, Intercord)
- Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (rec. 1990, Telarc)
- Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the London Symphony Orchestra (rec. 1990, Sony)
- Kurt Masur conducting the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (rec. 1991, Philips)
- Charles Dutoit conducting the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Decca)
- Sir Charles Mackerras conducting the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra; (this version is based on Janáček's original manuscripts) (rec. 1993, Chandos)
- Riccardo Chailly conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with the choir of the Slovak Philharmonic (rec. 1997, Decca)
- Ladislav Slovák conducting the Slovak Philharmonic; date of recording unclear, released by Music deLux
- Sir Andrew Davis with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (rec. live 2000 at BBC Proms)
- The "Postludium" has been recorded as a stand-alone organ piece by a number of concert organists.
There are a few other compositions of this genre in existence. Other composers of a Glagolitic Mass include J. B. Foerster, Skuherský, Gretchaninov, the Prague organist Wiedermann, and more recently, in the 1950s by the Czech polymath Jan Křesadlo. These glagolitic masses were perhaps romantic expressions of so-called pan-Slavism and that of Janáček, an unbeliever, may also possibly be so regarded.
- Dr. Theodora Strakova, editing board of Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Janacek, Supraphon, Prague, 1992
Mša glagolskaja (Glagolitic Mass), details
- Paul Wingfield: Janácek: Glagolitic Mass (Cambridge Music Handbooks), 1992. ISBN 978-0-521-38901-3
- date given as 1974 on the 1997 CD
- "Glagolitic Mass (Musical CD, 1985)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2011-11-14.
- "Glagolitische Messe Taras Bulba (Musical CD, 1991)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2011-11-14.
- "Glagolitic mass Taras Bulba (Musical CD, 1991)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2011-11-14.
- "glagolitic.com" Glagolitic text converter and transliterator
- "Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass is useless" by Christopher Culver, about the infelicities in the compilation of the text (24 March 2005)
- Hitchcock's Films Revisited by Robin Wood (discussion of the mass' pagan character), Columbia University Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-231-06551-1