Programme (Second Half)

Michael Haydn Missa Trinitatis

Mozart Epistle Sonata in A, K.225 (composed in 1780)

Kyrie Gloria Credo Sanctus Benedictus Agnus Dei


Michael Haydn (1737 – 1806) was the younger brother of Josef Haydn.  Both were choristers at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna where they received tuition in singing and violin and on the organ.  When his voice broke and he was dismissed from the choir, Michael chose not to stay in Vienna with his brother, opting instead to accept the position of Kapellmeister to the Bishop of Grosswardein in what was then Hungary, but is now Romania.   The Bishop had a flourishing musical establishment, and the next decade was a period of great creative activity for Haydn as he wrote music for the religious establishments of the city.  In 1763 he was appointed to the position of Court Musician and Konzertmeister to the Archbishop of Salzburg – a great patron of the arts – in which he was responsible for over 100 musicians.  It was here that Haydn formed a strong connection with the Mozart family.  Leopold Mozart was, after all, a colleague in the Archiepiscopal Court and Haydn took a great interest in the young Wolfgang’s development. Michael Haydn and Mozart collaborated on some compositions, and Mozart even fulfilled a commission for Haydn when illness prevented him from completing it himself. Mozart was eventually appointed as cathedral organist in Salzburg, but, after his break with the Archbishop in 1781 and his move to Vienna, Haydn held this post as well.  Haydn received several commissions for settings of the Mass from the Imperial Court in Vienna, as well as from his brother’s employer, Prince Esterházy.  A reserved man who inscribed all of his manuscripts with the letters O.A.M.D.G., (Omnia ad maiorem Dei gloriam or “All for the greater glory of God” – a habit also practised by J.S. Bach), he refused to allow any of his music to be published during his lifetime. He is buried in St Peter’s cemetery in Salzburg.  Schubert, on visiting his grave, wrote to one of his friends with the words he had spoken in front of the grave: “May your calm spirit be with me, good Haydn, and though I cannot be as calm and clear as you were, no one on Earth venerates you more sincerely than I do.”

This edition of the Missa Trinitatis was prepared by Dr Alison Shiel in 1969, principally from the autograph score of the work which is preserved in the Austrian National Library in Vienna, and from secondary sources in Dresden, Paris and Salzburg.  The first performance of it since the eighteenth century was given by the Aberdeen Bach Choir, conducted by James Lobban, in King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen in 1969. In her programme notes for that concert, Alison Shiel states: “Stylistically the Missa Trinitatis owes much to the Baroque period, and the Italian influence of composers such as Caldara, Fux and Alessandro Scarlatti, with whose works Haydn would undoubtedly have become familiar in Vienna.  The solo writing in particular shows the influence of the Italian school, with its coloratura passages and other operatic effects.   The choral writing indicates Haydn’s early skill as a contrapuntist ….and his sensitivity to the meaning of the text is in constant evidence.”

Peter Parfitt