Mass No. 2 (Bruckner)

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Mass No. 2
by Anton Bruckner
Linz Neuer Dom Innen Kapelle.JPG
The votive chapel in the Linz Cathedral (Mariä-Empfängnis- Dom), with a statue of Mary to whom the cathedral is dedicated
Key E minor
Catalogue WAB 27
Form Mass
  • 1866 (1866): Linz (first version)
  • 1882 (1882): Vienna (second version)
Dedication Dedication of the Votivkapelle of the new Linz Cathedral
  • 29 September 1869 (1869-09-29): Linz (first version)
  • 4 October 1885 (1885-10-04): Linz (second version)
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 bishop of Linz, Franz-Josef Rudigier, had already commissioned a Festive cantata from Bruckner in 1862 to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of the new cathedral, the Maria-Empfängnis-Dom. In 1866, he asked Bruckner for a mass to celebrate the accomplishment of the construction of the Votive Chapel of the new cathedral. Because of a delay in completing the construction, the celebration of the dedication didn't take place until three years later, on 29 September 1869.

Bruckner subjected the work to far-reaching revision in 1869, 1876, and 1882. The second version of 1882 was performed on 4 October 1885 in the Alter Dom, Linz.

Versions and editions[edit]

Two versions of the mass are available:

  • Version 1 of 1866, issued by Nowak in 1977
  • Version 2 of 1882
    • First edition (Doblinger, 1896), revised by Franz Schalk
    • Haas edition (1940, 1949)
    • Nowak edition (1959)

The differences among the two versions are described in detail at the end of the score of the 1882 version.[2]


Front-page of Bruckner's manuscript

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 goes 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 criticized 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]

Selected discography[edit]

Version 1 (1866)[edit]

There is as yet only one out-of-print recording of a music-school performance:[5]

  • Hans Hauseither, choir and instrumental ensemble of the BORG Wien 1, CD: issue of the BORG, 1996

Version 2 (1882)[edit]

About 100 recordings of Bruckner's Mass No. 2 have been issued.[5] The first recording of the mass was by Hermann Odermatt with the Gregorius-Chor and Orchester der Liebfrauenkirche, Zürich in 1930 (78 rpm Christschall 37-41).

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, Hellmut Wormsbächer, Philippe Herreweghe, Simon Halsey, Frieder Bernius, Helmuth Rilling, Marcus Creed, Winfried Toll and Otto Kargl.


  1. ^ a b c Anton Bruckner – Critical Complete Edition: Requiem, Masses & Te Deum
  2. ^ Leopold Nowak, Messe e-Moll Fassung 1866 – Studienpartitur, pp. 3-11, Vienna, 1977
  3. ^ Hawkshaw (2004), p. 50
  4. ^ Strimple, p.48
  5. ^ a b 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]