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The Glagolitic Mass (also called Slavonic Mass; in Czech Glagolská mše and sometimes Mša glagolskaja) usually refers to the Mša glagolskaja, a composition for soloists, double chorus and orchestra by Leoš Janáček. The work was completed on 15 October 1926. The first performance was performed by the Brno Arts Society conducted by Jaroslav Kvapil in Brno on 5 December 1927. (Ref: Dr. Theodora Strakova, editing board of the Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Janacek, Pub. Supraphon, Prague, 1992, and [1].)

There are a few other compositions of this genre in existence by J. B. Foerster, Skuherský, Gretchaninov, the Prague organist Wiedermann, and more recently, in the 1950s by the Czech polymath Jan Křesadlo. These glagolitic masses were primarily romantic expressions of so called pan-Slavism rather than liturgical works and that of Janáček, an unbeliever, may also be so regarded.



The term "Glagolitic" refers to the Glagolitic alphabet, the earliest alphabet used by the Slavs, and not to the texts used for the mass, as Janáček seems to have believed.

The five vocal movements correspond to the Catholic ordinary of the mass (minus "dona nobis pacem" in the Agnus) and in fact the work began as a Latin setting of the Kyrie, Agnus, and Credo for organ and chorus. This early version survives because it was used as a dictation exercise for Janáček's composition students in 1908.[1]

Janáček had extensive experience working with choirs, as well as writing a large amount of choral music, and this work is his finest in the genre. It begins and closes with triumphant fanfares dominated by the brass. In between these sections lies particularly vibrant and rhythmic writing for voices (soloists as well as choir). Before the closing Intrada, Janáček introduces a dramatic organ solo of considerable originality -- a perpetuo moto of wild energy. Janáček's Glagolitic Mass is considered one of the century's masterworks and is frequently performed and recorded today.

Janáček was a strong supporter of pan-Slavism, and this mass has been viewed as a celebration of Slavic culture. It is also, unsurprisingly, connected to Kamila Stösslová, Janáček's great love.


Its eight movements are:

  • 1. Úvod [Introduction (orchestra)]
  • 2. Gospodi pomiluj [Kyrie]
  • 3. Slava Gloria
  • 4. Vĕruju Credo
  • 5. Svet Sanctus
  • 6. Agneče Božij Agnus Dei
  • 7. Varhany sólo (Postludium) [Organ solo]
  • 8. Intrada [Exodus]

Although this version is considered the "standard" version performed today, research into Janáček's manuscripts suggests that the Intrada was intended to be played at the beginning of the work as well, creating a symmetric nine-movement form with the Vĕruju at its center. In addition, several other sections of the work were revealed to have been simplified in meter and orchestration.

Example to listen

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CD Recordings

Other recordings

The Glagolitic Mass was used for the music in the 1954 film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome by director Kenneth Anger.

External links


  1. ^ Paul Wingfield: Janácek: Glagolitic Mass (Cambridge Music Handbooks) 1992
  2. ^ date given as 1974 on the 1997 CD


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