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Leoš Janáček: Glagolitic Mass

  • for organ
  • Instrumentation details:
  • Composer: Leoš Janáček
  • Editor: Martin HaselböckThomas Daniel Schlee

Work introduction

1926 was a particularly successful and productive year for Leoš Janá?ek, who composed the opera The Makropulos Case, as well as Sinfonietta and the Glagolitic Mass, (Mša glagolskaja) among other works.

Janá?ek wrote his Glagolitic Mass in just two and a half months, and it became one of the most important mass compositions. Distancing himself from all of the well trodden paths of the traditional genre, Janá?ek created a piece of sacred music that is so unique, it begs the question of whether it can be categorised as such at all. It can best be compared to Zoltán Kodály’s powerful Psalmus hungaricus. Instead of using Latin, Janá?ek based his piece on a ninth century text written in Glagolitic (Cyrillic) script – Old Church Slavonic. When committing his work to paper, Janá?ek said: “I want to show people how to talk to our dear Lord.” And he did so with a self-assurance that is a far cry from Catholic humility and contrition. His aim was to write a “joyful mass” because all of the masses composed thus far were so sad.

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