When we think of Beethoven, Sacred Music might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Religious compositions weren’t Beethoven’s main interest, but he was a Catholic composer and often composed for Catholic patrons.  His most prominent patron was Archduke Rudolph, the Emperor’s brother, for whom he composed the Missa Solemnis (completed in 1823). The Missa Solemnis was the second of Beethoven’s two masses (the other was the Mass in C Major, which he completed in 1807). The clip below is the Kyrie from the later mass.

      Aside from the two masses, his only other sacred composition was the 1803 oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives. So, no, Sacred Music wasn’t his main interest, but what he did compose was, as we might expect, moving, powerful . . . and simply beautiful. 

     If that’s not enough, consider this: Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis is from the same time period as his magnificent 9th Symphony.  At this point of his life he was almost completely deaf, which is to say he probably never actually heard a note of it. Amazing.

Featured image: “The Last Judgment” by Michelangelo

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