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February 16 & 17th, 2020

Ludwig van Beethoven
Missa solemnis D major op. 123

Musical direction  Srba Dinić

Soloist * inside  Isabel Stüber Malagamba (Alt), Matthias bull (tenor), Jisang Ryu (bass)
with the choir of the State Theater Braunschweig and the Concert Choir Brunswick

A high point of the symphonic Beethoven year at the Braunschweig State Theater is the composer’s “Missa solemnis”, which will be heard for the first time in the state orchestra’s symphony concert series in 2020. 

On the manuscript of this work, Beethoven wrote the words:  From the heart – may it return to the heart.

The Missa Solemnis may be the greatest piece never heard. Nearly 90 minutes long, it requires a large chorus, an orchestra and four soloists. For Beethoven, every word counted in the long-known text; every sentence had its explicit meaning that had to be followed musically. The result is a fairly larger-than-life fair, which the audience with its length, attention to detail and expressiveness. It concludes with a fraught, fragile and unanswered plea for peace amid the drumbeats of war. But the answer comes in the Ninth Symphony, with its chorale finale based on Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” written in a time of revolution. Those words and Beethoven’s music call for humankind to kneel before the creator, but for answers to turn to one another. The path to peace, he suggests, is bestowed not from above, but from within us and among us, in universal brotherhood.

Interestingly Beethoven wanted to premiere the Missa along with the newly completed Ninth Symphony at the concert in the Kärntnertor theater on 7 May 1824, but the censor intervened, banning the performance of a religious work in a concert hall. A compromise was reached in which only three movements of the Missa were performed (along with the Ninth). Just shows how wrong the censor was.

Beethoven composed Missa Solemnis for the enthronement of his great friend and pupil Archduke Rudolph as Archbishop of Olmütz – completing it three years after the enthronement ceremony.

The Missa Solemnis stands alone in Beethoven’s output. A modern critic wrote: To those for whom Beethoven’s music is an important reason for living, the Missa Solemnis belongs at the center of their experience – a work to respect, certainly, but still more to love.