Missa in B Minor ("Kyrie" and "Gloria" of the B Minor Mass)


In 1733, following the death of August the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) applied to the ruler's son and successor, Frederick August II, for a court title. Bach’s petition eventually was successful, and in 1736 he was named Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Court Composer. Bach had bolstered his application by submitting a missa brevis (brief mass, consisting of Kyrie and Gloria) dedicated to Frederick August. This work, the Missa in B Minor, which Bach with deliberate unpretentiousness characterized as "an insignificant product of the skill I have attained in music,” was nothing less than the nucleus of one of his masterpieces, the famed B Minor Mass BWV 232. Not until 1749, the year before his death, did Bach finish augmenting the 1733 Missa to form what his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach called this "Great Catholic Mass" by adding the missing movements. The composer and music publisher Hans Georg Nägeli considered the B Minor Mass, already in 1818, “the greatest musical art work of all times and nations.” The 1733 work presented here is in 21 parts, predominantly in Bach’s own hand.

Last updated: February 12, 2016