Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his Mass in C major, Op. 86, to a commission from Prince Nikolaus Esterházy II in 1807. In fulfilling this commission, Beethoven was extending a tradition established by Joseph Haydn, who following his return from England in 1795 had composed one mass per year for the Esterházy family, to celebrate the name day of the Prince's wife. Haydn had ceased this tradition with the failure of his health in 1802.
Prince Nikolaus did not appreciate the mass, causing Beethoven to leave his house in a rage. Charles Rosen, in his The Classical Style, has called the episode Beethoven's "most humiliating public failure". The mass is appreciated by critics (such as Rosen), but is probably one of the least often performed of Beethoven's larger works.
Of the work, Michael Moore writes "While [it] is often overshadowed by the immense Missa Solemnis, written some fifteen years later, it has a directness and an emotional content that the latter work sometimes lacks." The widely-read Penguin Guide to Compact Discs (2004 edition) forthrightly calls the work a "long-underrated masterpiece."
- Gloria (Qui tollis – Quoniam)
- Sanctus (Benedictus – Osanna)
- Agnus Dei (Dona nobis pacem)