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ClassicsOnline Home » MAYR, S.: Te Deum / MOZART, W.A.: Missa solemnis (Simon Mayr Choir, Ingolstadt Georgian Chamber Orchestra, Hauk)
It is uncertain whether the Missa Solemnis in C major was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or by his father Leopold. Whatever the case, it was extremely popular during the 18th and early 19th centuries, and was performed by Simon Mayr who copied the score around 1802. Mayr’s own festive Te Deum is believed to have been written for Napoleon’s coronation as King of Italy in Milan Cathedral on 26 May 1805. Mayr’s biographer Girolamo Calvi praised this effective work in the highest terms, declaring it a masterpiece.
By Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics
Simon Mayr (1763–1845): Te Deum in D major
Attr. W.A. Mozart (1756–1791): Missa solemnis in C major, KV C1.20
Simon Mayr (1763–1845): Te Deum in D major
Born in the Bavarian town of Mendorf, near Ingolstadt, in 1763, Simon Mayr was the son of a schoolteacher and showed some early ability as a musician. He was a pupil at the Jesuit College in Ingolstadt, before entering the university to study theology, while continuing to demonstrate great versatility as a musician. His musical training, however, only began in earnest in 1787, when a patron, noticing his talent, took him to Italy. There, from 1789, he studied with Carlo Lenzi, master of the music at Bergamo Cathedral. There followed, through the generosity of another patron, a period of study with Bertoni in Venice. His early commissioned compositions were largely in the form of sacred oratorios, but in 1794 his opera Saffo was staged in Venice. His turning to opera owed much to the encouragement he received from Piccinni and Peter von Winter, and other operas followed for Venice and then for La Scala, Milan, and for other Italian theatres, with an increasingly large number of performances abroad. In 1802 he followed Lenzi as maestro di cappella at the cathedral of Sta Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, becoming director of the cathedral choir school three years later. Mayr held these positions until his death in 1845. As a teacher he won the particular respect of his pupil Gaetano Donizetti. He did much to promote the knowledge of the Viennese classical composers, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, in Italy, and his own style reflects something of this, but essentially in an Italian context. He was, needless to say, immensely prolific as a composer, with nearly seventy operas to his credit between 1794 and 1824, and some six hundred sacred works.
Mayr’s biographer Girolamo Calvi states that the festive Te Deum was written to celebrate the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte as King of Italy. This ceremony took place in Milan Cathedral on 26 May 1805. Calvi praises this effective work in the highest terms, declaring the whole work a wonderful masterpiece. Whether Mayr’s Te Deum was actually heard at the Emperor’s coronation is uncertain. It has been suggested that the setting is a late work, written in the 1820s at the period of the Masses for Einsiedeln and of the last operas.
Missa solemnis in C major, KV C1.20 (attributed to Mozart)
Mayr gave the title ‘Mozart’ to his copy of a Mass in C major, known also in other manuscripts, some attributed to Mozart, others to composers such as Franz Xaver Brixi, Abbé Georg Vogler or Cajetan Vogel. More recent research supports the thesis that the work could actually be by Leopold Mozart or even by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself. Features of Mayr’s writing suggest that the copy was made about 1802, possibly when he was in Vienna and acquainted with Constanze Mozart. Mayr himself performed the work, of which not only the score but also a large number of the parts survive. A copy in Salzburg was at first attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart but this was later crossed out and changed to Leopold Mozart, and the survival of a number of copies of the work in various collections in Austria, dating from the late eighteenth or earlier nineteenth centuries, testify to its popularity. The work is scored for four vocal parts, with an orchestra of pairs of oboes, horns, trumpets and timpani, with strings and organ. The Benedictus is said to be identical with that of a Salve Regina, formerly attributed to Mozart as K.92.
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