Mass No. 3 (Bruckner)

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Mass No. 3
by Anton Bruckner
Bruckner circa 1860.jpg
The composer, c. 1860
Key F minor
Catalogue WAB 28
Form Mass
Composed 1867 (1867)–1868 (1868) – Linz
Dedication Anton Ritter von Imhof-Geißlinghof
Performed 16 June 1872 (1872-06-16) – Augustinerkirche, Vienna
Movements 6
Vocal SATB choir and soloists
Instrumental orchestra and organ ad lib.

The Mass No. 3 in F minor WAB 28 by Anton Bruckner is a setting of the mass ordinary for vocal soloists, chorus and orchestra, and organ ad libitum.[1]


After the 1867 success of Bruckner's Mass No. 1 in D minor, he was commissioned "to write a new Mass for the Burgkapelle."[2] Bruckner wrote the first version between Septembers 1867–1868[3] in Linz (just before his move to Vienna);[4] he made slight revisions in 1877 and 1881, in preparation for performances at the Hofkapelle,[5] mainly to address "difficulties of execution"[6] but also to take into account what he had learned from studying Mozart's Requiem,[7] correcting some instances of parallel octaves if not justified by Mozart's example.[8] In the 1890s Bruckner was still revising the work,[9] but there were very little changes made to the vocal parts after 1868.[10]

The composer dedicated the piece to Hofrat Anton Ritter von Imhof-Geißlinghof at "the last minute."[11] Leopold Nowak, however, believed that the piece was actually dedicated to conductor Johann Herbeck.[12]

Versions and editions[edit]

First version 1868, revised in 1876, 1877, 1881–83 and 1890–93.

  • First edition (Doblinger, 1894), revised by Josef Schalk; re-edition by Woess (1924)
  • Haas edition (1944, 1952)
  • Nowak edition (1960)
  • Hans Ferdinand Redlich (Eulenburg, 1967)
  • Hawkshaw new edition (2005)

In the current Gesamtausgabe by Paul Hawkshaw the two versions that Bruckner considered to be the definitive ones, those of 1883 and 1893, are presented, so that the performers are provided with the opportunity to choose between the two versions.[1] There is as yet no edition available of the original version of 1868.


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, timpani, and strings, and organ ad libitum.[1] "The organ serves first of all to accentuate significant passages, in order to increase their sound brightness."[13]

The Gloria starts out with the words "Gloria in excelsis Deo" and the Credo with the words "Credo in unum Deum" sung by the whole choir, rather than intoned in Gregorian mode by a soloist, as in Bruckner's previous masses. The setting is more symphonic than that of the Mass No. 1, with a larger contribution of the soloists.

The work is divided into six parts:

  1. Kyrie – Moderato, F minor
  2. Gloria – Allegro, C major
  3. Credo – Allegro, C major
  4. Sanctus – Moderato, F major
  5. Benedictus – Allegro moderato, A-flat major
  6. Agnus Dei – Andante, F minor veering to F major

Total duration: about 62 minutes[1]

Whereas the Gloria ends with a fugue in all Bruckner's masses, in Mass No. 3, as in his previous Missa solemnis, the Credo also ends with a fugue, a "classical feature".[14] In this fugue the next voice entry is preceded by the acclamation "Credo, credo". The theme of the Agnus Dei has some reminiscence of that of the Missa solemnis. The Dona nobis resumes the theme of the Kyrie in major mode, and recalls the fugue subject of the Gloria and the last phrase of the Credo.

The first rehearsals, conducted by Johann Herbeck at the court church, the Augustininerkirche, took place in 1868 or 1869, but "were badly attended by orchestral players" and were "generally unsuccessful."[11] Ultimately, Herbeck found the mass "too long and unsingable."[12] After various delays, the mass was finally premiered on June 16, 1872, at the Augustinerkirche,[11] with Bruckner himself conducting.[15] Herbeck changed his opinion of the piece, claiming to know only two masses: this one and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.[16][17] Franz Liszt and even Eduard Hanslick praised the piece.[17] In some later performances, Bruckner was in the organ loft rather than on the podium.[15] At a November 1893 performance of this mass, Johannes Brahms "applauded ... so enthusiastically ... that Bruckner personally thanked him."[18]

Bruckner make four successive revisions of the work, in 1876, 1877, 1881 and from 1890 to 1893.[5] 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."[19] Bruckner was angry when he saw it in print, and annotated instances of parallel octaves which he had eliminated in his own revisions.[6] 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 more 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.[20] Bruckner indicated bars 170–179 of the Gloria – a part of the last "Miserere nobis" – as optional. As yet, these ten bars were recorded by only a few conductors.


Selected discography[edit]

About 70 recordings of Bruckner's Mass No. 3 have been issued.

The first complete recording of the mass was by Maurice Kessler with the Oberlin Musical Union and the Conservatory Orchestra of Cleveland in 1949. Of the other recordings from the LP era, Eugen Jochum's recording with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on Deutsche Grammophon[24] and Karl Forster's with the Berliner Symphoniker and the Chorus of the St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale have 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."[25]

Other excellent recordings, according to Hans Roelofs, are that by i.a. Colin Davis, Heinz Rögner and Franz Welser-Möst, and the recent recording by Ricardo Luna, who uses the Hawkshaw Edition.[26]

  • Eugen Jochum, Chor und Sinfonieorchesters des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Anton Nowakowski (Organ) - LP: DG 18829 – CD: DG 423 127-2 (Box set of 4 CDs), 1962 (Haas edition)
  • Karl Forster, Berliner Symphoniker und Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale - LP: Electrola E/STE 80715 – CD: EMI 697-252 180-2 (Box of 3 CDs), 1962 (Haas edition)
  • Colin Davis, Chor und Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Elmar Schloter (Organ) - CD: Philips 422 358-2, 1988 (with the optional bars 170–179 of the Gloria)
  • Heinz Rögner, Rundfunkchor Berlin and RSO Berlin - CD: Ars Vivendi 2100 173, 1988.
  • Matthew Best, Corydon Singers and Orchestra - CD: Hyperion CDA 66599, 1992 (with Psalm 150).
  • Franz Welser-Möst, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Linzer Mozart-Chor - CD: EMI CDC5 56168 2, 1995 (Nowak edition, with the optional bars 170–179 of the Gloria)
  • Ricardo Luna, Wiener Madrigalchor, Chorvereinigung Schola Cantorum and Symphonic orchestra of the Wiener Volksoper, István Mátiás (organ) - CD issued by the Wiener Madrigalchor: WMCH 024, 2008 live (1883 version, Hawkshaw) (with Te Deum).


  1. ^ a b c d Anton Bruckner – Critical Complete Edition: Requiem, Masses & Te Deum
  2. ^ Nowak
  3. ^ Simpson, p. 19
  4. ^ Schönzeler, p. 48
  5. ^ a b Hawkshaw (1997), p. 18
  6. ^ a b Hawkshaw (1997), p. 31
  7. ^ Hawkshaw (1997), p. 19
  8. ^ Jackson, 9. 395
  9. ^ Hawkshaw (2005), p. XII
  10. ^ Hawkshaw (1997), p. 8
  11. ^ a b c Redlich, p. 35
  12. ^ a b Hawkshaw (2005), p. XI
  13. ^ Mass No. 3 – Full score (Eulenburg), foreword
  14. ^ Hawkshaw (2004), p. 50
  15. ^ a b Hawkshaw (1997), p. 3
  16. ^ Watson, p. 26
  17. ^ a b Schönzeler, p. 60
  18. ^ Kinder, pp. 126–127
  19. ^ Hawkshaw (1997), p. 30
  20. ^ Redlich, p. 40
  21. ^ Simpson, p. 62. A passage, 6 bars or so of common time, from page 33 of the Universal Edition (edited by J.V. Voss) full score of the mass (available from IMSLP) is quoted.
  22. ^ Simpson, p. 54.
  23. ^ Brown, p. 193
  24. ^ Lovallo, p. 28
  25. ^ Johnson, p. 361
  26. ^ Roelofs' commented discography


  • Max Auer, Anton Bruckner als Kirchenmusiker, Gustav Bosse Verlag, Regensburg, 1927, pp. 137–166
  • 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 to 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 (editor) Matthew, Universe, New York, 2008
  • Lee T. Lovallo, "Mass no. 3 in f minor" Anton Bruckner: a Discography, Rowman & Littlefield, New York, 1991
  • Leopold Nowak, Preface Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 18: Messe F-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
  • Cornelis van Zwol, Cornelis 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]