Sacred music and especially the masses were always a part of Haydn’s long life. As a choir boy at St. Stephen’s, he participated in the Mass as his main duty. Here he was trained in the musical traditions of the Catholic Church. Also, as we now realize, his musical instruction did not have the usual thorough training, therefore he learned much by being a participant. He entered the professional stage with his appointment in Eisenstadt by Prince Esterházy and ended his musical association with the Esterházys composing his last great mass in 1802, the Harmoniemesse.

As is known from various biographical reports, Joseph Haydn was a very devout man. Most of his compositions, not only the sacred ones, had the musical inscription at the beginning “In Nomine Domine” and ended with “Fine Laus Deo”. For this reason, his masses are more than just commissioned works, written for certain occasions. Haydn invested not only his wisdom, talent, piety and faith, but also his personal, practical knowledge and his feeling for the atmosphere of the Catholic liturgy. Joseph Haydn said moreover, that when he thinks about God he must simply be happy. Therefore it is no wonder that many people say that Haydn’s music makes them happy. In his masses one can sense not only the seriousness, grandeur and happiness, but also a feeling of the menacing threats that were taking place in Haydn’s contemporary world.

In Austria, one speaks of an uninterrupted tradition of Haydn mass performances. These masses were highly esteemed in his lifetime and have continued to hold a special place in Austrian Catholic Church music. Since founding the Classical Music Festival in 1976, Don Moses has left a great imprint on the 200 year tradition of Haydn performance. For 40 years he has conducted yearly in the churches of Eisenstadt, Vienna and other cities; this experience, along with his practical knowledge, warrants the writing of this book.

For many years, Robert Demaree lectured about the music of Joseph Haydn to the students and performers of the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria. His dissertation on the “String Quartets of Joseph Haydn”, and his years of teaching and scholarship, brilliantly surface on each page of this much needed addition to Haydn’s recent scholarship. The knowledge and experience of these two authors presents a new and fresh view of all of the Joseph Haydn’s masses.

Copyright © 2009 Don V Moses and Robert W. Demaree

It is certainly fortunate that Don V Moses, over many decades, was able to collect experiences from Haydn’s own surroundings. He experienced the atmosphere in the Catholic liturgy as well as the function of music in the immediate context for which it was written. It shaped him as “regens chori”, and, similar to Haydn he could “experiment, take risks and discard the unnecessary”. 

When one has the opportunity to rehearse and perform in these special acoustics and surroundings, then these experiences unquestionably flow into the performance of Haydn’s works. Many of these experiences carry over from the sacred surroundings to the concert hall, since Haydn generally created enduring, universal music, not influenced by outside forces.

So this book is more than just a theoretical collection of facts, which alone would be an immense achievement. It is also the crowning life’s work of practitioners and profound connoisseurs of the sacred works of Joseph Haydn.

Preface to the Book
by Walter Reicher,

Intendant Haydn Festspiele Eisenstadt