Glagolitic Mass
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Glagolitic Mass
Glagolská m?e
Glagolitic Mass
by Leo? Janá?ek
Leos Janacek relief.jpg
Relief of the composer
LanguageOld Church Slavonic
  • SATB double choir and soloists
  • soprano, alto and baritone soloists
  • organ
  • orchestra

The Glagolitic Mass (Czech: Glagolská m?e, Church Slavonic: M?a glagolskaja; also called Missa Glagolitica or Slavonic Mass) is a composition for soloists (soprano, contralto, tenor, bass), double chorus, organ and orchestra by Leo? Janá?ek. The work was completed on 15 October 1926 and premiered by the Brno Arts Society, conducted by Jaroslav Kvapil, in Brno on 5 December 1927. Janá?ek revised the mass the next year.[1] The Glagolitic Mass is one of the most remarkable and important musical religious works of the twentieth century.

The Glagolitic alphabet was an early Slavic alphabet, the predecessor of the modern Cyrillic alphabet.


The text is in Old Church Slavonic, with five vocal movements that correspond to the Catholic Ordinary of the Mass, omitting "Dona nobis pacem" in the Agnus Dei. The musical origins of the work can be traced to Janá?ek's Latin setting of the Kyrie, Agnus Dei, and Credo for organ and chorus. This was used as a dictation exercise by his composition students in 1908.[2]

Janá?ek had extensive experience working with choirs, as well as writing a large amount of choral music. It begins and closes with triumphant fanfares dominated by the brass. In between these sections lies particularly vibrant and rhythmic writing for solo voices as well as choir. Before the closing Intrada, Janá?ek introduces a dramatic organ solo of considerable originality - a perpetuo moto of wild energy.[3] Janá?ek's Glagolitic Mass is considered an important work of the century and is frequently performed and recorded today.

Janá?ek was a strong supporter of pan-Slavism,[4] and this mass has been viewed as a celebration of Slavic culture.[3]


Its eight movements are:

  1. Úvod - Introduction (orchestra)
  2. Gospodi pomiluj - Kyrie
  3. Slava - Gloria
  4. V?ruju - Credo
  5. Svet - Sanctus
  6. Agne?e Bo?ij - Agnus Dei
  7. Varhany sólo (Postludium) - Organ solo
  8. Intrada - Exodus

Although this version is considered the "standard" version performed today, research into Janá?ek'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 V?ruju at its center. In addition, several other sections of the work were revealed to have been simplified in meter and orchestration. Some of the movements are reworkings of Janá?ek's earlier compositions: the Svet, for instance, is derived from the Sanctus of the composer's own Mass in E-flat.


The mass is scored for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass soloists, double SATB choir, and an orchestra of 4 flutes (2-4 doubling piccolos), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 3 clarinets (3rd doubling bass clarinet), 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, glockenspiel, triangle, snare drum, cymbals, tam-tam, chimes, 2 harps, celesta, organ, and strings (1st & 2nd violins, violas, cellos, and double basses).



  1. Arrangement suitable for: solo soprano, alto, tenor and bass, mixed chorus, organ and orchestra
    • arrangement for: wind orchestra
    • arrangement by: Karel B?lohoubek
    • performed by: Czech Army Central Band, co Karel B?lohoubek
  2. Arrangement suitable for: solo soprano, alto, tenor and bass, mixed chorus, organ and orchestra
    • arrangement for: wind orchestra
    • arrangement by: Josef ?ebesta
    • performed by: Prague Castle Guard and Police Wind Orchestra, co Rudolf Rydval
  3. Arrangement suitable for: opera
    • arrangement for: fantasy from the opera for saloon orchestra
    • arrangement by: E. Bauer
    • performed by: Dolfi Dauber Saloon Orchestra, co Dolfi Dauber
  4. Arrangement suitable for: opera
    • arrangement for: orchestral suite from the opera
    • arrangement by: Peter Breiner
    • performed by: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, co Peter Breiner

In film

The Glagolitic Mass was used for the music in the 1954 film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome by director Kenneth Anger.[9]

Other composers

There are a few other compositions of this genre in existence. Other composers of a Glagolitic Mass include J. B. Foerster, Franti?ek Zden?k Skuherský, Alexander Gretchaninov, the Prague organist Bed?ich Antonín Wiedermann, and more recently, in the 1950s by the Czech polymath Jan K?esadlo. These Glagolitic masses were perhaps romantic expressions of so-called pan-Slavism and that of Janá?ek, an agnostic, may also possibly be so regarded.


  1. ^ Dr. Theodora Strakova, editing board of Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Janacek, Supraphon, Prague, 1992. M?a glagolskaja (Glagolitic Mass), details
  2. ^ Paul Wingfield: Janácek: Glagolitic Mass (Cambridge Music Handbooks), 1992. ISBN 978-0-521-38901-3
  3. ^ a b Steinberg, Michael (2008). Choral masterworks: a listener's guide. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. p. 193. OCLC 690249284.
  4. ^ "Radio Prague - The Glagolitic Mass, a celebration of Slavic culture". Retrieved .
  5. ^ a b c [Decca Classical 1929-2009 by Philip Stuart]
  6. ^ Glagolitic Mass (Musical CD, 1985). []. OCLC 14941206.
  7. ^ Glagolitische Messe Taras Bulba (Musical CD, 1991). []. OCLC 35089844.
  8. ^ Glagolitic mass Taras Bulba (Musical CD, 1991). []. OCLC 30692935.
  9. ^ Weinel, Jonathan (2018). Inner Sound: Altered States of Consciousness in Electronic Music and Audio-Visual Media. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0190671211.

External links

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