February 2019

Favorite Work of February 2019

Every month a member of the Carus team introduces one of their favorite works, whether it be a choral piece, a CD, a song book, or an organ work. The contribution for February 2019 comes from Renita Steinwand.


Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Mass in B flat major op. 77


When I was thinking about what I would count as my favorite piece, it was not that easy for me to find one because the interests of music-lovers cannot be limited to just one particular piece of music or one period. It was even difficult for me to decide on one favorite composer. After some consideration, I chose the Mass in B flat major by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, a composer who has long fascinated me.


I discovered my fascination for Hummel when I was rehearsing with my sister for a competition, in which we played his Sonata for Flute and Piano (op. 50). Out of interest I researched other works, and so I came across some compositions for piano. For me as a pianist it is a marvellous thing to be able to combine my personal interests with studying musicology in such a delightful way, because I am currently writing my Master’s dissertation on Hummel’s piano music. 


As well as works like such as operas, ballets, and chamber music, Hummel also composed sacred works including masses which were extremely important for his contemporaries. The masses were written for the Esterházy family. The Mass in B flat major op. 77 was not only highly regarded by the Prince himself, but also by Haydn. It is extremely skilfully written, contains moving high points, and presents both singers and musicians with technical challenges. It is a shame that Hummel is less well-known today and is becoming increasingly forgotten; I find this quite wrong. The Mass in B flat major impresses me greatly, it sounds extremely majestic, and every time I hear it it really gets under my skin. It is simply overwhelming. Listening to the Mass is a really worthwhile experience, and even better to be singing or playing in it yourself one day!



Renita Steinwand studied musicology in Tübingen and has worked since July 2018 as a student trainee in the Production Department at Carus. In her free time she is a keen pianist.

Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Mass in B flat major

The House of Esterházy commissioned what are probably some of the most important masses to be written at the turn of the 18th to the 19th century: Joseph Haydn’s last, six great masses,...

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