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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart   KV1 427, KV6 417a

Mass "Great Mass" in C minor

Mass in C minor. 1782. Time: 54'00.

Grosse Messe.

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The Great Mass in C minor, (German: Große Messe in c-Moll), K. 427 (K. 417a)), is a musical setting of the Mass by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The mass in C minor was composed in 1782 and 1783 in Vienna. The large scale work, set for two soprano soloists, a tenor and a bass, double chorus and large orchestra, remained unfinished.

Autograph of the first two pages of the Mass ("Kyrie")

Larger version of page 1 and page 2



The work was composed from 1782 to 1783. The Mass was written as a result of a vow Mozart made with himself in relation to his wife Constanze and his father Leopold and their strained relationship. It was first performed in the Church of St. Peter's Abbey in Salzburg on 26 October 1783.[1] The premiere took place in its natural context of a Roman Catholic Mass, and the performers were members of the "Hofmusik", that is the musicians employed at the court of Salzburg's ruler, Prince-Archbishop Count Hieronymus von Colloredo.[2] The soprano solos at the premiere were sung by Mozart's wife Constanze.[1][3] There was a rehearsal in the nearby Kapellhaus on 23 October 1783.[2]

Fragmentary status

The work is incomplete, missing all of the Credo following the aria "Et incarnatus est" (the orchestration of the Credo is also incomplete) and all of the Agnus Dei. The Sanctus is partially lost and requires editorial reconstruction. There is a good deal of speculation concerning why the work was left unfinished. Given the absolute necessity of a complete text for liturgical use, it is likely that Mozart spliced in movements from his earlier Masses for the premiere.[4] For purposes of modern performances, the editions and completions available are those by H. C. Robbins Landon (Eulenburg), Helmut Eder (Bärenreiter), Richard Maunder (Oxford University Press), Philip Wilby (Novello) and Robert Levin (Carus-Verlag).

Mozart later reused the music from the Kyrie and Gloria, almost without changes except for the text, in the cantata Davidde penitente, K. 469.


  • Kyrie (Andante moderato: Chorus and Soprano)
  • Gloria
    • Gloria in excelsis Deo (Allegro vivace: Chorus)
    • Laudamus te (Allegro aperto: Soprano II)
    • Gratias agimus tibi (Adagio: Chorus)
    • Domine Deus (Allegro moderato: Sopranos I and II)
    • Qui tollis (Largo: Double choir)
    • Quoniam tu solus (Allegro: Sopranos I and II, Tenor)
    • Jesu Christe (Adagio: Chorus) – Cum Sancto Spiritu (Chorus)
  • Credo
    • Credo in unum Deum (Allegro maestoso: Chorus)
    • Et incarnatus est (Andante: Soprano I)
  • Sanctus (Largo: Double choir)
    • Benedictus qui venit (Allegro comodo: Quartet and Double chorus)


The work embodies pomp and solemnity associated with the Salzburg traditions of the time, but it also anticipates the symphonic masses of Joseph Haydn in its solo-choral sharing. The mass shows the influence of Bach and Handel, whose music Mozart was studying at this time (see Gottfried van Swieten).[1]


Use in film and television

The mass is included in the soundtrack for the Academy Award nominated animated feature, The Triplets of Belleville for a scene when the characters are at sea. It uses the opening Kyrie movement, and evokes the distressed state of the characters, while capturing the turmoil of a storm at sea. It is also used in A Man Escaped.[5] It occurs throughout the Channel 4 drama A Very British Coup; the Credo was used as the theme music.

Parts of the Kyrie are used in two separate scenes in the 1984 film Amadeus. Qui tollis is also used in a deleted scene that was included in the director's cut DVD.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Mozart, W. A.; Holl, Monika (preface), Thalmann, Gabriele (transl.) (2006). Mass in C minor (Urtext). Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag. pp. VII–X.  ISMN M-0006-20223-2
  2. ^ a b Deutsch 1965, 219
  3. ^ Bras, Jean-Yves; transl. Derek Yeld (2006). "A Mass of Thanksgiving", p. 31 [CD]. Album notes for Mass in C minor (La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale Gent, Orchestre des Champs-Éllysées, cond. Philippe Herreweghe) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Arles: Harmonia Mundi (HMX 2961393).
  4. ^ Solomon 1995
  5. ^ Donald Richie, "Bresson and Music" Robert Bresson ed. James Quandt. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group (1998): 300. "He employed Mozart, the Kyrie Elieson [sic] of the Mass in C Minor, music which had a "colour," he said, matching that of the film. ... The music is heard in seven sequences, in all of which the prisoners are communicating with the condemned man, when they are no longer alone."


External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Great_Mass_in_C_minor". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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