Karajan conducts Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis

13–14 Apr 1979

Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

  • Ludwig van Beethoven
    Missa solemnis in D major, op. 123 (87 min.)

    Anna Tomowa-Sintow Soprano, Ruza Baldani Alto, Eric Tappy Tenor, José van Dam Bass, Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien, Helmuth Froschauer Chorus Master

Herbert von Karajan learnt his trade conducting opera as an assistant Kapellmeister in Ulm in the early 1930s. However, it was in Aachen, where he became Germany’s youngest Generalmusikdirektor in 1935 at the age of 27, that his horizons began to expand. During his Aachen years Karajan developed the “core” choral repertory to which he returned time and again until his death in 1989. Six works stood at the heart of this repertory: Bach’s B minor Mass and St Matthew Passion, Haydn’s The Creation, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, Brahms’s German Requiem and Verdi’s Messa da Requiem.

Karajan first conducted the Missa solemnis in Aachen in November 1937, three days before the start of his first complete cycle of Wagner’s Ring. The performance created a sensation and would later be heard in Brussels and Berlin. His first post-war performance of the work took place in Vienna in January 1949 with the Wiener Singverein. Appointed as the Singverein’s director for life in 1950, Karajan worked with the choir more or less exclusively for the next four decades. In 1950–51 Karajan and the choir performed the Missa solemnis in churches and concert halls throughout Italy. In 1967 he chose the Missa solemnis as the choral work at his inaugural Salzburg Easter Festival. The present performance was made as a television transmission from the 1979 Festival.

In both Bach’s B minor Mass and Beethoven’s Missa solemnis Karajan brought a particular intensity to his realisation of the Credo with its central movements of Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection. Whatever his public image might have suggested to the contrary, Karajan’s private beliefs ran deep.

 

Unitel

Directed by Herbert von Karajan
Recorded at the Großes Festspielhaus, Salzburg, 13 April 1979
© 1979 Unitel

Watch now

Try out the Digital Concert Hall

Try out the Digital Concert Hall

Watch a free full-length concert of Sir Simon Rattle conducting symphonies by Schumann and Brahms.

Watch concert for free