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Music for the Mass

Replica of the west choir screen (c. 1250) in Naumburg Cathedral, Germany, c. 1901–3. Plaster. Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Emperor Wilhelm II, BR30.41.


Harvard Art Museums, Adolphus Busch Hall, 29 Kirkland Street
Cambridge MA

Karlheinz Stockhausen, Gesang der Jünglinge
Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Sonata für Viola solo
Johann Sebastian Bach, Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, BWV 91

Initially conceived of as part of a prospective “mass for electronic sounds and voices,” this evening’s program will begin with Karlheinz Stockhausen’s visionary, 1955–56 electroacoustic composition Gesange der Jünglinge. The composition includes excerpts from the account of the three youths who survive the fiery furnace in the Book of Daniel, captured by the recorded voice of a boy soprano.

Composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s 1955 Sonate für Viola solo takes the form of a chorale prelude on the Lutheran hymn “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ.” Describing the work, the composer writes, “The piece’s individual sections draw not only on the purely musical elements of the original hymn, but together form a meditation on the text,” which itself addresses the birth of Christ. The work’s epigraph “an den Gesang eines Engels” (“to the song of an angel”)—a reference to the dedication of Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto “to the memory of an angel”—recalls the vocality of the program’s preceding works and points toward the program’s ensemble finale: Johann Sebastian Bach’s chorale cantata Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, BWV91. Drawing on the same hymn as Zimmermann, this cantata was composed in Leipzig for the high holiday of Christmas Day in 1724.

The ensemble, made up of both professional musicians and students at Harvard University and the New England Conservatory of Music, is directed by Max Murray and features soloist Danika Paskvan for the Zimmermann Sonata.

This performance will take place in Adolphus Busch Hall, 29 Kirkland Street.
Free admission, but limited seating is available. Tickets will be distributed beginning at 7:30pm at the entrance on Kirkland Street. One ticket per person.

Complimentary parking available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.
Adolphus Busch Hall is free and open to the public on Wednesdays, 1–5pm, and Saturdays, 10am–2pm.