Our Spring Concert...
Mass of Masses
Tuesday, April 30 at 8:00pm
Faith Presbyterian Church
(corner of John Knox and Meridian roads)
About the composer:
Franz Schubert was a gifted lyrical composer with an exquisite sense of melody and drama. Although not the originator of German lieder, he was the consummate creator of the art song. He created tone poems artistic works that partner music and text. He wrote in almost every musical genre. His lifetime musical oeuvre includes choral works, over 600 songs, chamber music, keyboard music (especially for solo piano), symphonies, operas, and sacred compositions, including seven masses. Very little of his music was published during Schuberts lifetime.
Franz Schubert was born in Vienna in 1797. He was the son of a schoolteacher. Young Franz received his first formal education in his fathers school. At age eight, he began studying violin with his father and piano with an older brother. He also studied piano, organ, singing, and music theory from the choirmaster of the local parish church. By age seven or eight, Schubert was composing songs, string quartets, and piano works. At age seven, he auditioned for Antonio Salieri, the music director of the imperial court chapel. Salieri was impressed with Schuberts talents and recommended him as a singer when a position opened.
Schubert passed the competitive audition for Imperial Court Chapel in 1808. At the same time, he was admitted as a scholar to the Imperial and Royal City College. Salieri became one of his main tutors. When Schuberts voice changed at 16, he resigned and moved on to a teacher-training school, subsequently obtaining a position as an assistant teacher in the school where his father taught.
Schubert spent a lot of his time composing and playing while he taught full-time. Before the age of 20, he had composed five symphonies, over 300 solo songs, part songs, masses string quartets, and opera. Two of his most famous and widely performed songs, Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel and Die Erlkönig (The Elf-King) were composed when he was 17 and 18.
By 1822, Schubert quit teaching and became a full-time composer, supported by friends who admired his ability. Many of his admirers and supporters would gather with Schubert for evening concerts of his vocal and chamber music. These gatherings became known as Schubertiade. Schuberts life was tragically cut short by illness, taking his life at age 31.
Critic and scholar Alfred Einstein shared the following, “as a musician, Schubert came into the world at exactly the right time. He was able to enter into a rich and still active inheritance, and he was great enough to use it in the creation of a new world. Schubert personified the Romantic spirit with his lyrical, passionate, expressive music.”
Mass in G:
Franz Schubert composed six Masses in Latin and one in German, the Deutsche Messe. He was 18 when he composed his second mass, the Mass in G. The most familiar and popular of his masses, it was finished in six days during March, 1815, for a performance in the Lichtenthal church where he sang during his youth.
The text comes from the traditional Roman Catholic Mass. Dennis Shrock comments, “Unique to Schubert, portions of the Gloria and Credo texts in all [six Latin] masses are varied: individual words are repeated, the standard order of phrases is interchanged, and most striking, some words and phrases are deleted. The deletionssuch as Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris (who sits at the right hand of the Father) and Credo in unum sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam (I believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church) from the Credoare intriguing and inexplicable.”
The Kyrie is divided into three parts: Kyrie, Christe, Kyrie. The beginning of the Kyrie is homophonic and lyrical. The Christe section begins with an expressive soprano solo, and the chorus enters to finish the section. In the closing of the movement, Schubert wrote in a restatement of the Kyrie.
The Gloria is also divided into three sections. The opening is choral. In the middle section, Schubert adds soloists, but returns to the chorus to complete the movement. From the opening measures to the end, the Gloria is spirited and triumphant. Schuberts compelling use of dynamic contrast and texture helps to propel the movement forward. Listen for his setting of the text et in terra pax, followed by the hominibus bonae voluntatis, as well as the Domine Fili unigenite, where he has the soprano and bass soloist describe Christ as the chorus intones miserere nobis. Here the dialogue becomes more complex. The full chorus returns at Quoniam tu solus sanctus in variation of the opening material affirming Christs place with a driving intensity to the end of the movement.
A consistent quarter note pulse throughout the entire movement creates the steady forward propulsion of the Credo. Schubert begins with full chorus and then employs double homophony between the sopranos and altos at In unum Dominum, with the tenors and basses answering Jesum Christum. The full chorus returns at Deum de Deo (God from God). One of the most profound moments in the movement and the work is Schuberts musical depiction of the Crucifixus. Unlike other composers, Schubert chooses to address the text emphatically, preparing the climax of the Mass in the Et resurrexit. The Credo concludes in the same soft, reflective mood set forth in the opening measures.
The majestic setting of the Sanctus has a dotted rhythm figure that recurs throughout the movement, as well as the joyous Osanna in excelsis, that Schubert sets as a four-part fugue. The Osanna returns in the Benedictus after the lyrical trio between the soprano, tenor, and bass soloists.
Schubert sets the Agnus Dei for soprano and bass soloists, while the chorus utters the plea for all mankind, miserere nobis (have mercy upon us), dona nobis pacem (grant us peace). The Mass comes full circle ending in the same mood it began, serenely.
or by calling (850) 942-1893.
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Many thanks to the fine photographers whose work appears on this site...
- Ray Colletti
- Rebecca Levings
- Claire Timm
- Cynthia Valencic
...and many more!