Our current project

On Sunday, 9 June 2024, at 7 pm, we will perform together with the HTW-Tonkollektiv and the Junge Philharmonie Kreuzberg in the concert hall Universität der Künste:

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MESSE IN F-MOLL by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)

and

CHICHESTER PSALMS by Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

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Tenor: Ferdinand Keller
Alto + Boy voice: Caroline Schnitzer
Soprano: Andrea Chudak
Bass: Aaron Selig

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Click here for the tickets (eventbrite): 


© Anne Krausz

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We look forward to seeing you!


Discover more about the works and their composers:

The Mass in F minor by Anton Bruckner (Mass No. 3)

The Armed Man

Joseph Anton Bruckner
(1824-1896)

From St. Florian via Linz to Vienna

Joseph Anton Bruckner was born on 4 September 1824 in Ansfelden, Upper Austria. Due to the early death of his father, he was taken in as a choirboy at the nearby St Florian Abbey. He went on to study organ and music theory there. From 1855, Bruckner was the cathedral organist at St Ignatius Church in Linz. In 1868, he took up the vacant position of “Professor of Music Theory and Organ Playing” at the Vienna Conservatory.

The Viennese public appreciated his musical ability and was initially very receptive to his compositions. However, his symphonies, which were considered too long and too complex, were also criticised, especially by the feared Viennese music critic Eduard Hanslick. He described them as “giant symphonic snakes” and Bruckner’s music as “unnaturally bloated, morbid and pernicious”.

Late recognition

Bruckner’s musical breakthrough came with the premiere of his 7th Symphony in 1884 in Leipzig (far from Vienna…) under Arthur Nikisch. In his later years, he received numerous honours and privileges, such as a rent-free flat in Vienna’s Belvedere Palace. Bruckner worked on his 9th Symphony there in the last year of his life, but was unable to complete it.

Anton Bruckner died in Vienna on 11 October 1896 at the age of 72. His body was embalmed in accordance with his will and buried in a sarcophagus beneath the Bruckner organ named after him in St Florian’s Abbey Basilica. The pedestal bears the inscription Non confundar in aeternum (“In eternity I will not be confounded”), the final line of the Te deum.

Today, Bruckner’s works are regarded as significant contributions to Romantic music in the 19th century.

The F minor Mass

Anton Bruckner began composing the Mass in F minor in 1867 shortly after completing his Mass in D minor. Despite severe self-doubt with a nervous breakdown and a three-month stay at a spa in Bad Kreuzen* (Austria), Bruckner worked continuously on the mass and completed it within a year.

The first performance of the Mass in F minor was to take place immediately after its completion. However, due to the aversion of the Viennese court conductor Johann Herbeck to the mass (“too long and impossible to sing”) and the musicians of the court orchestra, it did not materialise. It was not until four years later that Bruckner hired the Vienna Opera Orchestra at his own expense and performed the Mass in F minor with the Vienna Singverein on 16 June 1872 in the Augustinerkirche in Vienna.

The premiere was followed by further concerts outside Austria, for example in Budapest in 1879. On 4 November 1894, the work was performed again in the Großer Musikvereinssaal in Vienna to celebrate Bruckner’s 70th birthday. This performance was one of his greatest public successes.

The F minor Mass lasts approximately one hour.

* Anton Bruckner’s stay in Bad Kreuzen is still commemorated today by the Anton Bruckner Spring in the Pfarrerwald. Bruckner is said to have worked on the Kyrie of the F minor Mass here in August 1867.

The key of F minor

The key of F minor has four tonal descents. It stands for “deep depression, lamentation for the dead, sighs of misery and longing for the grave” (in Chr. Schubart: Ästhetik der Tonkunst, 1806).

Famous works in F minor are

  • Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23 (Appassionata)
  • Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2
  • Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and
  • Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein

The Armed Man

Leonard Bernstein
(1918-1990)

Career aspiration "pianist"

The composer, conductor and pianist Leonard (originally Louis) Bernstein was born on 25 August 1918 in Lawrence, Massachusetts/USA, the son of Jewish immigrants from what is now Rivne/Ukraine (formerly Polish).

With the career aspiration of becoming a pianist, Bernstein studied music as well as philosophy, literature and linguistics at Havard University. He regularly conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

From 1943 Bernstein composed symphonies, and in 1965 the Chichester Psalms. His most famous stage works include Candide (1956) and West Side Story (1957). Bernstein was also active as a music teacher and taught young musicians in the television series Young People’s Concerts.

On 19 August 1990, Bernstein conducted his last concert (in Tanglewood/Massachusetts). He suffered a fainting spell during the concert, but was still able to conduct it to the end. Bernstein died of heart failure on 14 October 1990 at the age of 72. He is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn/NYC.

The Chichester Psalms

The name of the piece goes back to the southern English city of Chichester. It belongs to the county of West Sussex and is located around 20 kilometres east of Portsmouth. In 1965, Bernstein was commissioned by the then Dean of Chichester Cathedral, Walter Hussey, to set psalm texts he had selected himself, including Psalm 100 Call to Praise God, Psalm 23 The Good Shepherd and Psalm 131 With God in Peace.

Although commissioned for the traditional Southern Cathedrals Festival in Chichester, the first performance of the Chichester Psalms took place earlier on 15 July 1965 in the Philharmonic Hall in New York. On 31 July 1965, it was finally performed at the festival in Bernstein’s preferred form with boys’ choir and boys’ alto.

Key, language

The complete work is divided into three movements, in each of which two psalms are (partially) set to music. It is in the key of B flat major, a key that stands for “happy love, good conscience, hope, a hint of a better world” (Chr. Schubart). The psalms are always in Hebrew. These specifications are intended to emphasise the liturgical character of the work.

Bernstein said of the Chichester Psalms: “At that time (note: during my sabbatical in 1964/65) I spent almost the whole year writing only twelve-tone music and even more experimental things. I was happy to be able to bring out these new sounds, but after about six months of work I threw it all away. It wasn’t my music; it wasn’t sincere. And as a result, I wrote the Chichester Psalms – certainly the catchiest B flat major tonal piece I’ve ever written.”

The performance lasts around 20 minutes.