Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy

The Mass in C major op. 86 was written by Ludwig van Beethoven from March to August 1807 on behalf of Prince Nikolaus II of Esterházy on the name day of his wife Maria Josepha Hermengilde of Liechtenstein.
At the time of the composition of his first Mass setting, Beethoven was modelled on the masses composed by his teacher Joseph Haydn, which he regarded as “inimitable masterpieces” and also studied during his composition work. This is expressed in the fact that Beethoven’s sketches for the Gloria of his Mass in C major, as discovered in 1991 by musicologist McGrann and independently by Alan Tyson, also contain two passages from Haydn’s Creation Mass.


The fair was premiered on 13 September 1807 in Eisenstadt. Since the prince did not like the mass, Beethoven dedicated it to prince Kinsky when it went to press.
Parts of the mass were performed on 22 December 1808 in the “Theater an der Wien”. (On this evening, the 5th Symphony, the 6th Symphony, the 4th Piano Concerto and the Choral Fantasy op. 80 were also premiered).


With this Mass, Beethoven distanced himself from the traditional settings of the Mass and, according to his own statement, treated the text “as it has not yet been treated much”.


While the Prince who commissioned the mass was not pleased, the contemporary critic E. T. A. Hoffmann appreciated the “expression of a childlike serene mind”, and Michael Moore notes the music’s “directness and an emotional content”.

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