February 13, 2004
Little Theater, Quad 346-SJU
Mark Ehlert, Alcuin Library
And One for All? Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and the Question of Vocal Forces in the "Sanctus" Movement
Ludwig van Beethoven's Mass in D major, op. 123 (the Missa Solemnis) is one of the composer's greatest musical triumphs, but it is not without controversy. One point of contention concerns an issue of performance: did Beethoven truly intend for the first part of the "Sanctus" movement to be sung throughout by the vocal soloists? This is the question that begins our musical investigation, an inquiry that takes us from the original manuscripts and early musical sources of the Mass through the Viennese classical Mass tradition, the art of orchestration, and matters of musical form, (mis)interpretation, and ambiguity. Our journey will conclude by considering the consequences of a unique manner of performance: the employment of the chorus as the sole intended vocal instrument for the opening of the "Sanctus."