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Zelenka, Jan Dismas Missa Omnium Sanctorum
No event presents itself for the composition of what was to be the beginning of Zelenka’s great final cycle of ...
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- Author: Zelenka, Jan Dismas
- Catalog number: 154
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Zelenka, Jan Dismas Missa Omnium Sanctorum
No event presents itself for the composition of what was to be the beginning of Zelenka’s great final cycle of unfinished mass settings. The last-known completed mass of the series is another Missa tota titled Missa ultimarum sexta et forte omnium ultima dicta Missa OO SSrum (‘the sixth of the fi nal masses titled Missa Omnium Sanctorum’), whose Gloria is dated ‘3. Februar 1741’.
|4||Gloria in excelsis Deo||5:05|
|5||Qui tollis peccata mundi||5:17|
|6||Quoniam tu solus Sanctus I||1:01|
|7||Quoniam tu solus Sanctus II||4:39|
|8||Cum sancto Spiritu I||0:18|
|9||Cum sancto Spiritu II||3:44|
|15||Dona nobis pacem||2:37|
|17||Aria - Barbara, dira, effera, hebreae gentis rabies||10:04|
|18||Recitativo - Vicit Leo de Tribu Juda||0:46|
|19||Aria - Alleluja||3:44|
Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679–1745) was the eldest son of the cantor and organist of the Bohemian village of Louňovice pod Blanikem. His music for a school drama Via laureata of 1704 (ZWV 245, music now lost) and three small sepulchro oratorios Immisit Dominus pestilentiam (ZWV 58: 1709), Attendite et videte (ZWV 59: 1712), and Deus Dux fortissime (ZWV 60: 1716) reveal Zelenka’s early association with Jesuit institutions in Prague – the Clementinum College especially. But Zelenka was to make his home in Dresden, seat of the Saxon Elector and King of Poland, August II. Following the re-formation in 1709 of the Orchestra of the Dresden court, payment records show that by 1711 Zelenka had become a member of this ensemble as a Contre-Basse player, although it is possible he had arrived there earlier. Soon after Zelenka’s appearance in Dresden, his ambitions as a composer became apparent when he wrote the Missa Sanctae Caeciliae (ZWV 1) and dedicated it to August II. Th e mass was fi rst heard in 1711 on the feast of the saint (22 November) in the recently-completed royal Catholic chapel. On that day the Diárium Missionis of the Dresden Jesuits reported that ‘the music for the sung mass, recently composed by Zelenka who is also a royal musician, was performed by the King’s French musicians in honour of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr.’ [Musicam pro Sacro cantato fecerunt Galli Regii Musici in honorem Sanctae Caeciliae Virginis et Martyrae quam recenter composuit Dominus Zelenka, pariter Musicus Regius.].
Zelenka’s score was accompanied by a petition addressed to the king in which a year of study in Italy and France was requested. From this petition we learn that Zelenka’s composition teachers had been Baron Hartig of Prague and the Dresden Kapellmeister, Johann Christoph Schmidt. Records show that in 1715 Zelenka was one of four musicians who were to be sent to Venice where the Saxon electoral prince Friedrich August was based during his Grand Tour [Kavaliersreise]. Although there is no direct evidence showing that Zelenka actually visited Venice, in 1716 a setting of an off ertory titled Currite ad ara (ZWV 166) is dated ‘…a Vienna li 13. Juni: 1716’. He remained in Vienna (whether continuously or not is unknown) until at lest early in 1719, presumably in the service of the Saxon electoral prince who was then courting Archduchess Maria Josepha of Habsburg, the elder daughter of Emperor Joseph I (died 1711). At this time Zelenka also studied with the Imperial Kapellmeister Johann Joseph Fux, and he copied a great quantity of music. He also composed four instrumental Capriccios (ZWV 182 to 185) which were almost certainly heard at entertainments hosted by the prince. Moreover, the fl autist Johann Joachim Quantz reported that in 1717 he was given counterpoint lessons by Zelenka in Vienna. By February 1719, Zelenka had returned to Dresden where he took part in the lavish musical activities that accompanied the celebrations surrounding the arrival of the Saxon electoral prince with his bride, Maria Josepha who, in coming years, was to become a fi rm supporter of Zelenka. It was she who eventually took responsibility for matters concerning the music of the Dresden court’s Catholic chapel. Th roughout the 1720s and early 1730s, Zelenka composed a great many works for this chapel – masses, requiem music, works for Holy Week, four cycles of Vespers psalms, litanies, and a host of smaller works. Th is corpus, together with Zelenka’s growing collection, came to be entered into his Inventarium rerum Musicarum Variorum Authorum Ecclesiae servientium which was begun on 17 January 1726. Following the death in July 1729 of the Dresden Kapellmeister Johann David Heinichen, Zelenka took over the musical responsibilities of the royal chapel, working both with the royal musicians, and with the growing body of church musicians which comprised young male vocalists and instrumentalists – the Kapellknaben.
When the King of Poland August II died in February 1733, his son Friedrich August II succeeded as Elector of Saxony. Later that year he was elected King of Poland as August III, and the coronation of Friedrich August and Maria Josepha took place in Cracow on 13 January 1734. Zelenka was one of the many musicians who sent petitions to the new king at this time. He requested the position of Kapellmeister to be conferred upon him (the title went to Johann Adolph Hasse), as well as fi nancial remuneration for the work he had undertaken in the royal chapel after Heinichen’s death, and reimbursement for the music he had spent on score copies acquired in Vienna, and in Dresden. During the travels of the court to Poland, Zelenka continued to compose – albeit sporadically. Two of his three great oratorios for Holy Week came from this time: Gesu al Calvario of 1735 (dedicated to the royal couple who were still in Poland), and I penitenti al Sepolchro del redentore, as well as the magnifi cent Missa Sanctissimae Trinitatis of 1736. Zelenka’s next dated major works were the serenata Il Diamante of 1737, a Miserere setting (1738), and Missa votiva (1739), composed following an illness. In 1740 Zelenka began his fi nal large-scale project, which never fully materialized: composition of the first of a group of six final masses (Missae ultimae) to which the Missa Omnium Sanctorum (ZWV 21) belongs. When Zelenka died during the evening of 22–23 December 1745, this large-scale undertaking remained incomplete.
It has been usual to portray Zelenka as a reserved and solitary individual in his last years, an image resulting from a passage published in 1862 by Moritz Furstenau which claimed that Zelenka seems to have lived a rather lonely and isolated life. Nevertheless, Zelenka was admired by his contemporaries, since in 1740 Johann Gottlob Kittel, in his Lob-Gedicht auf die sachsische Hofkapelle, expressed great admiration for Zelenka, claiming that he was a highly regarded, perfect virtuoso, and that his music for the churých gave a foretaste of heavenly pleasures. Moreover, from Friedrich Rochlitz (via Johann Friedrich Doles) we learn that at least two of Bach’s students – Doles himself and Gottfried August Homilius – did not hide their preference for Zelenka’s sacred music over that of the Dresden Oberkapellmeister Hasse. These opinions make it unlikely that Zelenka was the unhappy and under-rated musician that popular history has suggested.
‘Christe eleison’ (ZWV 29)
Zelenka’s autograph score of this single mass movement in E minor was originally kept with the Cum Sancto Spiritu fugue which closes the Missa ultima titled Missa Dei Filii (ZWV 20). Th e aria Christe eleison is scored for contralto solo accompanied by strings and basso continuo. Although today the work stands alone in Zelenka’s output, it is likely that this beautiful movement belonged with one of Zelenka’s fi nal Missae ultimae. While it is possible that this aria is a fragment of an otherwise unfinished fi nal mass, a convincing argument based on style and tonality is presented in the Zelenka-Dokumentation that this movement was intended as a replacement for a Christe eleison of one of the completed masses – probably the Missa Omnium Sanctorum. Th e paper and format of the source correspond to those of the Missae ultimae and the Litaniae Lauretanae ‘Salus infi rmorum’ of 1741/1744 (ZWV 152).
Missa Omnium Sanctorum (ZWV 21)
No event presents itself for the composition of what was to be the beginning of Zelenka’s great final cycle of unfinished mass settings. The first setting of the cycle – titled Missa Dei Patris (ZWV 19: ’Missa ultimarum prima‘) – was completed on 21 September 1740 (the date is noted on the fi nal page of the Mass), the day before the departure for Poland of August III and Maria Josepha. This is a Missa tota with musical settings of all sections of the mass from Kyrie to Agnus Dei. It is generally accepted that Zelenka then composed the second mass of the cycle, the Missa Dei Filii (ZWV 20: ’Missa ultimarum secunda‘), an undated Missa brevis consisting of a Kyrie and Gloria only. Th is type of mass was a Neapolitan specialty that had become the most elaborate and prestigious genre of Neapolitan sacred music and a favorite presentation piece. The last-known completed mass of the series is another Missa tota titled Missa ultimarum sexta et forte omnium ultima dicta Missa OO SSrum (‘the sixth of the fi nal masses titled Missa Omnium Sanctorum’), whose Gloria is dated ‘3. Februar 1741’. Apart from the letters L: J: C: (Laus Jesu Christo) which Zelenka wrote at the head of each of the four bindings of the mass (Kyrie; Gloria; Credo; Sanctus et Agnus), Zelenka’s usual dedication appears (with one variant) on four occasions throughout the autograph score: A M D G B M V OO SS H AA P J R (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam | Beatae Mariae Virgini [et] Omnibus Sanctis Honor | Augustissimo Principi in Reverentia). Zelenka’s reason for naming Missa Omnium Sanctorum as the sixth mass of the series is unclear, but the third, fourth, and fifth masses of the project are either lost, or might have been settings composed at an earlier time, or else they were never written. Each of these three completed fi nal masses is scored for four vocal soloists and four-part choir accompanied by violins 1 and 2, violas, oboes 1 and 2, and a basso continuo group which would have comprised at least one each of violoncello, string bass, bassoon, organ, and possibly theorbo. The vocalists (Zelenka would have had male soloists only and an all-male chorus in mind) and orchestra are organized according to solo and ripieno principles. Sets of parts seem not to have been prepared for any one of the Missae ultimae, although a catalogue of 1765 shows that parts once existed for the Gloria of the Missa Dei Filii. Since the Dresden court had stipulated that a sung mass should last no longer than 45 minutes (and since, on 15 January 1741, the Jesuit Diarium reported the pleasure caused by the brevity of the sung mass composed by the priest Fr Johann Michael Breunich SJ), neither of Zelenka’s two complete masses would have met this requirement.
The setting of the mass, as it developed in Naples during the first half of the eighteenth century, undoubtedly influenced Zelenka. He held examples in his collection of sacred music, including works of the Neapolitan composers Francesco Durante (1684–1755), Francesco Mancini (1672–1737), Domenico Sarro (1679–1744), and Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725). Moreover, between 1738 and 1740 when the Saxon Electoral Prince Friedrich Christian was visiting Italy during his Grand Tour [Kavaliersreise], Neapolitan sacred music – including mass settings by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710–1736) – was beány sent back to Dresden. Missa Omnium Sanctorum is a typical example of a ‘number’ setting composed in the stilo misto comprising, as it does, tutti choruses juxtaposed with brilliant concerted vocal and instrumental movements, powerful fugues written in the stile antico, double fugues, fugues with independent instrumental accompaniment, and solo vocal arias in which a range of galant features are evident.
The opening Kyrie eleison I, Christe eleison, and Kyrie eleison II are set according to a well-established plan of a tutti chorus: solo aria (‘arioso’ for tenor solo) with instrumental accompaniment (later, this movement was parodied by Zelenka in his Litaniae Lauretanae ‘Consolatrix affl ictorum’ of 1744, ZWV 151): tutti fugal chorus. Th e Gloria is structured in six movements. Gloria in excelsis Deo is composed as a brilliant concerted chorus while Qui tollis peccata mundi is set as an aria for solo soprano. Two sets of paired movements follow. Quoniam tu solus Sanctus I is a tutti choral and instrumental introduction to Quoniam II (an aria in the galant style for solo alto accompanied by violins 1 and 2, violas, and basso continuo); Cum Sancto Spiritu I is a tutti introduction to the powerful fugue Cum Sancto Spiritu II which concludes the Gloria.
It has been observed that due to its long doctrinal text, the Credo generally tended to inspire the lest imaginative settings with the mass. Zelenka, however, set the text as one through-composed movement. Although of 263 bars in length (and much of the text is overlapping), the Credo of Missa Omnium Sanctorum falls into five clearly defi ned sections: Credo, Et incarnatus est, Crucifi xus, Et resurrexit, and Et vitam venturi saeculi, Amen. The tonality of A minor is strongly affirmed in the lively opening, a classic ritornello comprising three principal segments: introductory gesture, continuation and extension of the initial ideas, and the formal cadence in the tonic key. Segments of this ritornello connect episodes in which the doctrinal statements of the Credo are proclaimed. Ritornello material also acts as the foreground to a background of choral, syllabic declamations of the text. It also appears as an instrumental interlude either alone or in conjunction with musical companions. Thus, each of its segments links the multitude of varying and contrasting components of the entire movement. The Sanctus, scored for choral and instrumental tutti, is followed by a remarkable Benedictus setting for sopranos and altos, who sing a plainchant-like melody in unison against a swirling accompaniment from the upper strings. A strict tutti fugal setting of ‘Osanna in excelsis’ closes this section. Finally, Agnus Dei is composed as a majestic concerted chorus followed by a part for solo bass, and with the return of the music heard in Kyrie II to the text ‘Dona nobis pacem’ a great arch is created to conclude Zelenka’s final mass.
Barbara dira effera! (ZWV 164)
At an unknown time in the 1730s Zelenka composed at least two, and possibly three, motets featuring a solo bassoon obbligato. They are the secular motet of one movement titled Qui nihil sortis (ZWV 211), scored for soprano and contralto solo with solo oboe and bassoon accompanied by ripieno strings, oboes and basso continuo; Sollicitus fossor (ZWV 209), regarded as being among the dubious works attributed to Zelenka (with a less conspicuous part for solo bassoon); and the dazzling ‘Motetto pro Resurrezione’, Barbara dira eff era! It is tempting to link these compositions with the arrival in Dresden of a virtuoso bassoonist from Prague named Antonin Moser who, by circa 1738, had become a member of the Dresden court orchestra. As to the vocal soloist Zelenka had in mind, any one of the castrato contraltos of the musical establishment of the court during the 1730s might have sung Barbara dira eff era!: Nicolo Pozzi, Antonio Gualandi (Campioli), or Domenico Annibali.
Zelenka entered this motet into his Inventarium as ‘Mottetto. Barbara dira eff era! A Contralto Solo, Violini 2, Oboe 2, Viola, Fagotto e Basso Continuo. Z’. Th e motet is set for solo voice with instrumental accompaniment. The author of the Latin text remains unknown. Accompanying the entry of this work into the 1765 catalogue of the music kept in the Dresden Catholic court church is a remark that makes the purpose of this work clear: ‘Pro Resurrect[ione]. D[omi]ni’. (In Dresden’s Catholic court church the Resurrection ceremonies began at 8 pm on the evening of Holy Saturday and continued throughout the following three days). Barbara dira eff era! is constructed in three movements. It opens with a virtuosic and extended ‘rage’ aria marked ‘Allegro assai, e sempre fi ero’ scored for alto soloist, bassoon obbligato, accompanied by strings, double reeds, and basso continuo. Following a dramatic outpouring of anguished fury, a recitative moves from the horror of death to the triumph of life which, in turn, leads straight into the fi nal aria – a joyous ‘Alleluia’ setting. This format of aria–recitative–aria was employed for motets sung in Viennese court churches at that time. Plaudite, sonat tuba (K 165) by the imperial Kapellmeister Johann Joseph Fux, which was performed at the cathedral of St Stephan Vienna on Dominica Resurrectionis 1736 comes to mind. Both works have an important obbligato to accompany the solo voice in the opening aria (Fux uses a solo trumpet), and following a recitative, the final movement of each is composed on the word ‘Alleluia!’. The autograph score of Barbara dira eff era! was once accompanied by thirteen performance parts, but these are now missing from Dresden.
Janice B. Stockigt