The Latin Masses by Joseph Haydn

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At the centre of Joseph Haydn's church music are his fourteen Latin Masses, of which only twelve are authentic or complete. Composed continually between 1749 and 1802, with a gap only in the years 1783-1795, the masses therefore constitute the genre with which Haydn was occupied over the longest period of time. The six (authentic or complete) masses composed before 1782 are stylistically very different: between the two short Missae breves in F and the Sanctis Joannis de Deo (Little Organ Mass) (ca. 1775), accompanied by just the “Viennese church trio” (2 violins, basso continuo), there are more extended masses with rich orchestral scoring such as the Missa Cellensis in honorem B.M.V. (Große Mariazeller Messe) (1766). By contrast the group of six late masses, written from 1796 onwards, form a stylistically homogeneous group of more extensive works scored for large forces. Haydn composed these almost every year until the Harmoniemesse / Harmony Mass (1802) for the name day of the wife of his employer, Princess Maria Josepha Herminegild Esterházy. All of Haydn's 12 masses listed above (as well as the Missa “Rorate coeli desuper” probably erroneously attributed to him) are published by Carus.