Biography Books Music Family Tree Visits Galleries Love Collections Cd Buy Beethoven School
Contact Your Beethoven Events Curiosities Fictions Visits Midi Music Links Map Search

MenuCD of BeethovenMenu

Symphonies Piano Music for the Violin Triple Concerto Chamber music Fidelio - Leonore - Prometheus Works for choir Others

Chorale Fantasy Chorale Fantasy : list Mass in C Missa Solemnis Other works for Choir Folksong settings Voice and Orchestra

TitleLudwig van Beethoven: Mass in C, opus 86

Beethoven wrote this work in 1807, at the request of Prince Nicolas Estherhazy, patron for many years of Joseph Haydn, who still remained alive but no longer composed.

The work was performed, on the 13th September 1807, at the castle of Eisenstadt, not far from Vienna. The composer, aged 37 and in full maturity, conducted his own work.

It appears the prince did not appreciate the work, judging it probably too “modern”. He is supposed to have said: “But, Beethoven, what have you done here?”.

Nevertheless Beethoven was very satisfied, asserting “to have treated the text like it not previously been done”.

When the work was edited, in November 1812, at Breitkopf & Härtel (of Leipzig), it was dedicated to Prince Kinsky.

Mass in C

TitleMass in C: orchestral and choral complement

This mass requires a classical complement and is identical to that of the last mass of Joseph Haydn, the “Harmoniemesse” of 1802:

  • a quartet of soloists of the highest quality;
  • a large mixed choir of 4 voices.

An orchestra with:

  • 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets and 2 bassoons;
  • 2 horns, 2 trumpets and timpani;
  • strings;
  • an organ.
TitleMass in C: structure of the work, opus 86

It comprises the 6 parts “customary” in the mass: Kyrie – Gloria – Credo – Sanctus – Benedictus – Agnus Dei.

KYRIE (duration: about 5 mins)

Andante, quasi allegretto
It is a page full of fervour; a magnificent introduction to the work; phases of intervention between soloists and choir.

GLORIA (average duration: 10 mins)

 The Gloria is divided into 3 connected parts:

  • 1 – Allegro con brio:

- Gloria in Excelsis Deo** brilliant choir;
- Laudamus Te with brilliant choir;
- Gratias Agimus Tibi with Tenor and choir;
- Domine Deux with Tenor and choir.

  • 2 – Andante mosso

- Qui Tollis with Mezzo, choir and the other soloists;
- Qui Sedes*, with choir;
- Miserere Nobis, with choir.

  • 3 – Allegro ma non troppo

- Quoniam**, with quick and bright choir;
- Cum Sancto Spirito* extensive fugue** choir and soloists.

III. CREDO (average duration 12 mins)
Is divided into 4 connected sections:

  • 1 – Allegro con brio

Credo** with a grandiose choir.

The pinnacle of the work (text bellow in order to better appreciate this remarkable chorus):
Credo in unum deo, Patrem omnipotem, factorem coeli
et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
Et in unum Dominum, Jesum Christum, Filium Dei
unigenitum et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula.
Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine.
Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum, non
factum, consubstantialem Patri per quem omnia facta
Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutatem
descendit de coelis.

  • 2 – Adagio

Et Incarnatus Est, Soloists;
Crucifixus, soloists and choir.

  • 3 – Allegro ma non troppo

Et Resurrexit, Bass then choir* and soloists;
Et In Spiritum Sanctum.

  • 4 – Vivace

Et Vitam Venturi Saeculi, extensive fugue**, with choir and soloists.

SANCTUS (average duration 2-3 mins)

Adagio followed by a brilliant allegro:

  • Pleni Sunt Coeli*, with Choir;
  • Osanna I.

BENEDICTUS (average duration: 7 to 8 mins)

Long slow passage (allegretto) with soloists, accompanied by the choir;
already foretelling the Missa Solemnis

Osanna II (allegro), with choir.

AGNUS DEI (average duration: 6 to 7 mins)

Agnus Dei (poco andante).
Miserere Nobis (interventions of the clarinet) choir.
Dona Nobis Pacem, with soloists and choir, (allegro ma non troppo, andante con moto,
tempo del kyrie).
Piano ending, on Pacem.

Note: the * or ** correspond to the personal appreciation of Daniel,
signaling the most enthusiastic passages.

TitleMass in C: indicative discography

This work is curiously rare to find on CD and, as a consequence, only one or two performances are available.

Here is where to find some on the Internet, new or second hand, in France Dispo sur and Germany Dispo sur in the United Kingdom Available or the United States Dispo sur

The discography is marked by some remarkable versions, amongst which:

Sir Thomas BEECHAM
Beecham Choral Society and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Emi, 1958
Guilde 1969
Herbert KEGEL
Munnich, Polygram
Carlo-Maria GIULINI
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Emi, 1970
Constantin ILIEV
Sofia, Vanguard, 1972
George GUEST
Polygram, around 1975
Sir Colin DAVIS
London Symphony Chorus and London Symphony Orchestra , Philips, 1978
Gulbenkian Orchestra (Lisbonne), Erato, 1988
John-Elliot GARDINER
Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Monteverdi Choir, Archiv, 1989
Slovak Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Brilliant Classics, 1990

Robert SHAW
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Telarc

Stuttgart Bach Collegium, Hanssler, 1993
Matthew BEST
Corydon Orchestra, Hyperion, 1995
Riccardo CHAILLY
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Decca, 1997
Richard HICKOX
Collegium Musicum 90, Chandos, 2003

Mass in C, opus 86, by Beethoven

Mass in C, opus 86, by Beethoven

Mass in C, opus 86, by Beethoven

Mass in C, opus 86, by Beethoven

Title Mass in C, opus 86

The magic of period instrument, coupled with the voice, always works:

  • Ah! Perfido!… Air for soprano and orchestra, op. 65;

  • Meerestille und glückliche Fahrt, cantata for choir and orchestra, Op. 112;

  • Mass for soloists, choir and orchestra in C major, Op. 86.

The Monteverdi Choir and the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique are conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.

Soloists: William Kendall (tenor), Charlotte Margiono (soprano), Alastair Miles (bass), Catherine Robbin (mezzo soprano).

Mass in C, opus 86, by Beethoven
Deutsche Grammophon - 1989
SearchBuy from
Title The Three Hymns, opus 86
Mass in C, opus 86, by Beethoven
Koch - 1989

Beethoven was not satisfied with the reserved reception of his Mass no. 1 in C major on the 13th September 1807. Wishing to play in concert, out of worship, the words were adapted into German by Christian Schreiber, and retained the three parts, renamed the Three Hymns: Gloria, Sanctus and Benedictus.

A rarity to actively search among second hand CDs.

The Staatsphilharmonie Krakau and the Chor der Staatsphilharmonie Krakau are conducted by Roland Bader. Soloists: Janice Alder-Alford (messo soprano), Markus Köhler (baritone), Brigitte Vogel (soprano), Christian Elsner (tenor).

SearchBuy from
Many thanks to Melanie PIDDOCKE for her translation of this page from French into English
Ludwig van Beethoven's website -
Search Map Updates Contact About Home ©