Mass No. 2 (Bruckner)

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Mass No. 2
by Anton Bruckner
Bruckner circa 1860.jpg
The composer, c. 1860
Key E minor
Catalogue WAB 27
Form Mass
  • 1866 (1866) – Linz (first version)
  • 1882 (1882) – Vienna (second version)
Dedication Unveiling of the Votive Chapel of the Maria-Empfängnis-Dom
Performed 29 September 1869 (1869-09-29) – site of the Mariä-Empfängnis-Dom
Published 1896 (1896)
Movements 6
Vocal SSAATTBB choir
Instrumental Wind band

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).[1]

The Linz bishop Franz-Josef Rudigier, who already asked Bruckner in 1862 for a Festive cantata to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of the new Maria-Empfängnis-Dom, asked Bruckner in 1866 for a mass to celebrate the accomplishment of the construction of the Votive Chapel of the Dom. Because of a delay in the accomplishment of the construction, the celebration occurred three years later, on 29 September 1869.

Versions and editions[edit]

Bruckner revised the work in 1869, 1876, and 1882. Two versions of the mass are available:

  • Version 1 of 1866, issued by Nowak in 1977
  • Version 2 of 1882, issued by Doblinger (1896), Haas/Nowak (1940 and 1949), and Nowak (1959)

Globally the differences among these two versions are small.[2]


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.[3] 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 is going 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[1]

Previously Bruckner had been criticised 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."[4] "The Mass in E minor ... is a work without parallel in either 19th- or 20th-century church music."[1]


About 90 recordings of Bruckner's Mass No. 2 have been issued. Among them there is as yet only one music-school performance available of the 1866 version by Hans Hauseither.[5]

Of the recordings from the LP era, Eugen Jochum's recording with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on Deutsche Grammophon[6] has been remastered to CD.

Matthew Best's more recent recording with the Corydon Singers has been critically acclaimed.[7]

Other excellent recordings, according to Hans Roelofs, are i.a. those by Roger Norrington, Philippe Herreweghe, Frieder Bernius, Helmuth Rilling and Winfried Toll.

  • 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
  • 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
  • Frieder Bernius, Kammerchor Stuttgart & Deutsche Bläserphilharmonie, CD: Sony Classical SK 48037, 1991
  • Helmuth Rilling, Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart and Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, 1996: CD: Hänssler 98.119 (with Te Deum and Psalm 150)
  • Winfried Toll, Camerata Vocale Freiburg, brass players of L'arpa festante, CD: Ars Musici 232828, 2008


  1. ^ a b c Anton Bruckner – Critical Complete Edition: Requiem, Masses & Te Deum
  2. ^ Leopold Nowak, Messe e-Moll Fassung 1866 – Studienpartitur, Vienna, 1977
  3. ^ Hawkshaw (2004), p. 50
  4. ^ Strimple, p.48
  5. ^ Commented discography of Mass No. 2 by Hans Roelofs
  6. ^ Lovallo, p. 28
  7. ^ Johnson, p. 361


  • Max Auer, Anton Bruckner als Kirchenmusiker, Gustav Bosse Verlag, Regensburg, 1927, pp. 111–136
  • A. Peter Brown, The second golden age of the Viennese symphony: Brahms, Bruckner, Dvořák, Mahler, and selected contemporaries Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, 2002
  • Paul Hawkshaw, "An anatomy of change: Anton Bruckner's Revisions to the Mass in F minor" Bruckner Studies edited by Timothy L. Jackson and Paul Hawkshaw, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997
  • Paul Hawkshaw, "Bruckner's large sacred compositions" The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner edited by John Williamson, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004
  • Paul Hawkshaw, Foreword Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 18: Messe F-Moll: Studienpartitur, Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Vienna, 2005
  • Keith William Kinder, The Wind and Wind-Chorus Music of Anton Bruckner Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 2000
  • Timothy Jackson, "Bruckner's 'Oktaven'", Music & Letters Vol. 78, No. 3, 1997
  • Stephen Johnson, "Anton Bruckner, Masses Nos. 1–3" 1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die, Rye Matthew (editor), Universe, New York, 2008
  • Lee T Lovallo, "Mass no. 2 in e minor" – Anton Bruckner: a Discography, Rowman & Littlefield, New York, 1991
  • Leopold Nowak, Preface to Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 17: Messe E-Moll: Studienpartitur, Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Christl Schönfeldt (translator), Vienna, 1960
  • Hans Ferdinand Redlich, Preface to Mass in F minor (revision of 1881), Ernst Eulenburg, Ltd, London, 1967
  • Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Bruckner, Marion Boyars, London, 1978
  • Robert Simpson, The Essence of Bruckner: An essay towards the understanding of his music, Victor Gollancz Ltd, London, 1967
  • Nick Strimple, Choral music in the nineteenth century, Hal Leonard, New York, 2008
  • Cornelis van Zwol, Anton Bruckner – Leven en Werken, Thot, Bussum (Netherlands), 2012. ISBN 90-686-8590-2
  • Derek Watson, Bruckner, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1975

External links[edit]