Ludwig van Beethoven himself called the Missa Solemnis his most complete work – and yes, the composition still ranks among the most popular works in the occidental art genre. Archbishop Rudolph from Austria, Beethoven’s talented student, close friend and financial supporter, provided an opportunity for the creation of the Missa Solemnis when he was appointed Archbishop of Olmuetz. Spontaneously, Beethoven decided to compose this ceremonial mass for the enthronement.
Beethoven was neither religious nor an unbeliever. He concerned himself with writings from ancient Egypt, the philosophy of Kant and claimed to recognise the existence of God in the beauty of nature. He was not known for his ecclesiastical lifestyle which is why the examination of his own notion of God and the related studies of theology, liturgy and church music, which Beethoven considered to be necessary for his composition of the Missa Solemnis, took him much more time than expected. He worked on this piece for nearly four years. Unfortunately, his plan for the mass to accompany the bishop’s enthronement sadly failed. In 1823, three years after the enthronement, Ludwig van Beethoven handed over the Missa Solemnis to the Archbishop of Olmuetz to whom the work was dedicated. Find more information on this release here.