Writing about a Haydn Arietta with variations (in my 8/16/20 posting “Name that tune”) brought a powerful musical memory flooding back to me, so powerful that I was moved to tears of joy: Haydn again, but now the Kyrie movement from his Paukenmesse (with its dramatic use of tympani).

The movement has a pattern common to a great many of Haydn’s symphonic movements: an initial slow introduction, then opening up into the main theme — in this case a songlike joyous “Kyrie Eleison”, which bursts out like a suddenly rising sun. Listen to the movement here, in an especially emotional performance conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

(This YouTube performance is clearly from a tv broadcast, but the information provided about it is entirely about the Haydn Mass, with nothing about the recording, its date or occasion or, aside from Bernstein, its performers. (Bernstein recorded the Paukenmesse on several different occasions, and I don’t know which one this is.) [Addendum 8/26: now see Gary’s comment below, which has the source.]

One of the Bernstein recordings

From Wikipedia:

Missa in tempore belli (English: Mass in Time of War), Hob. XXII/9, is a setting of the mass by Joseph Haydn. It is catalogued Mass No. 10 in C major, (H. XXII:9). Known also as the Paukenmesse due to the dramatic use of timpani, it is one of the most popular of his fourteen mass settings [it is the 10th]. The autograph manuscript contains the title “Missa in tempore belli” in Haydn’s handwriting.

Haydn composed this mass at Eisenstadt in August 1796, at the time of Austria’s general mobilisation into war. Four years into the European war that followed the French Revolution, Austrian troops were doing badly against the French in Italy and Germany, and Austria feared invasion. Reflecting the troubled mood of his time, Haydn integrated references to battle in the Benedictus and Agnus Dei movements. The Mass was first performed on 26 December 1796, in the Piarist Church of Maria Treu in Vienna.

… The Kyrie opens like a symphony in sonata form, with a slow introduction before moving on to the main theme. The “Kyrie Eleison” (Lord have Mercy) part is given more importance — the “Christe Eleison” occupies just four bars.

… The In Tempore Belli first suggests itself in the Benedictus. This is set mostly in short nervous phrases for the solo quartet, with the three lower voices singing detached notes below the soprano melody reminiscent of pizzicato strings.

The sense of anxiety and foreboding continues with ominous drumbeats and wind fanfares in the Agnus Dei, which opens with minor-key timpani strokes (hence the German nickname, Paukenmesse), perhaps fate itself, knocking seemingly from the depths. This foreshadows the timpani-catalysed drama of the Agnus Dei in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. The music brightens with trumpet fanfares, ending with an almost dance-like entreaty and celebration of peace, “Dona nobis pacem” (Give us peace).


3 Responses to “Paukenmesse”

  1. Gary Says:

    Here’s the complete mass of which your Kyrie is an excerpt. Conducted by Bernstein and recorded at Ottobeuren abbey:

  2. julianne taaffe Says:

    Thank you for this post, Arnold.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: