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Marshall University Music Department Presents a Mass in E Minor by Anton Bruckner, Marshall University Choral Union, Marshall University Chorus, Robert Wray, conductor, Marshall University Chamber Choir, David Castleberry, conductor
All Performances
  • Robert Wray, Marshall University
  • David Castleberry, Marshall University
Publication Date
Year of Release


Dr. Richard Kravchak, Jenny Morris, oboe

Dr. Ann Marie Bingham, Rebecca Adkins, clarinet

Kay Lawson, Dr. Edwin Bingham, bassoon

Dr. Martin Saunders, Briana Blankenship, trumpet

Dr. Stephen Lawson, Danielle Ocheltree, Nicholas Bragg, Chris Cremeans, french horn

Dr. Michael Stroeher, Brianna Williams, Andrew O'Neal, trombone

Sean Price, cantor

Marshall University Choral Union
Robert Wray, conductor

Erin Bradley, Laura Nichole Campbell, Toni Chirico, Ruth Crowe, Destiny DiGiovanni, Myrna McKendree, Sue Parker, Frances Plemich, soprano

Mary Beth Brown, Maria Tulia Gomez, Hillary Herold, Kayla Massie, Margie McKee, Jane Morse, Jenna Palmer-Kelly, Kelly Parker, Carla Rae Terry, Joyce Wilcox, Heather Wood, alto

Joe Crowe, Gabriel Gray, Sean Price, tenor

Jeff Dickerson, Daniel Gray, Bill Rath, Jonathan Thorne, bass

Marshall University Chorus

Robert Wray, conductor

Selena Baker, Abi Black, Brittany Blair-Martin, Rachel Blum, Stephanie Boothe, Sierra Burford, Laura Campbell, Courtney Cremeans, Destiny DiGiovanni, Sarah Goddard, Alexa Griffey, Rachel Hagley, Amber King, Allison LaRoza, Kali Libby, Meagan Mahaffey, Arika Michaelis, Lauren Milton, Christa Navy, Catie Pinson, Christina Rodes, Marissa Snyder, Kelsey Suprano, Ida Ward, Lauren Whisman, soprano

Cassy Adkins, Michelle Beckner, Deanna Crabtree, Brooke Fisher, Hannah Foreman, Corynn Hawkins, Emma Hensley, Olivia Hughes, Courtney Perry, Colleen Wermers, Ali Wimbish, alto

Justin Bahawi, Keith Bailey, Joe Crowe, Ty Eller, Gabriel Gray, Jordan Henry, Naveed Irfan, Kyle Levisay, Sean Price, Jimmy Stamm, Shane Stevens, Breon Taylor, Seth Thomas, tenor

C.J. Casey, Brian Crawford, Sam Fishel, Casey Fitzwater, Daniel Gray, Sean Link, Steven Miller, Robert Nuñez, Jacob Smith, Josh Steinle, Nathan Stuntz, Jonathan Thorne, Ryan Wolfe, bass

Marshall University Chamber Choir

David Castleberry, conductor

Mark Smith, pianist

Laura Campbell, Amber King, Alaina Krantz, Rebekah May, Christa Navy, Mycah Pemberton, Ali Perdue, Sarah Riddle, Jessica Starkey, Aurelia Ward, soprano

Caitlin Freeland, KeAnna Georges, Emily Goudy, Corynn Hawkins, Hillary Herold, Madelyn Mazzeo, Arika Michaelis, Halie Putorek, Olivia Watson, alto

Michael Bare, Asmar Brevard, Derek Ellis, Jarohn Grandstaff, Gabriel Gray, Jordan Henry, Sean Price, Michael Rose, Jacob Smith, tenor

Jeffrey Dickerson, Carver Eller, Daniel Gray, Robert Nuñez, Josh Steinle, Josh Stewart, Ryan Wilson, bass

Program Notes

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) has long been recognized for his contribution as a symphonic composer. With 10 symphonies to his credit, he was known as "Wagner's Symphonist" because these works are indebted to Richard Wagner's orchestral music for his operas. But while his symphonic music has been largely acknowledged, his sacred compositions have not garnered as much attention. Bruckner spent much of his life as a church composer and organist, and composed three masses and a number of motets. Two of his masses are written in a symphonic concert style and feature a full orchestra, but the Mass in E minor (1866) was conceived as a sacred vocal work.

Composed for the consecration ceremony of the new Votive Chapel of the Dom in Linz, Austria, The Mass in E minor was a request by the Bishop of Linz. When the ceremony took place the chapel construction was not yet completed, and the building was missing a roof as well as an organ. Bruckner created the mass with the knowledge that the work would be performed outdoors and so scored the mass to utilize an eight voice mixed choir with a small chamber wind ensemble to accommodate both the performance space and the lack of an organ. Bruckner made numerous revisions of the work for performances in 1869, 1876, and 1882. The first revision of the mass in 1869 added a part for organ, and Bruckner, an accomplished organist joining the ensemble for that performance.

Certain aspects of this mass - most particularly Bruckner's approach to its orchestration and his harmonies - have long been steeped in controversy. Several scholars have considered the work to be the result of the criticism Bruckner received for his first mass in which it was insinuated that the work was too symphonic in nature. Therefore, Bruckner's response to this criticism manifested in the creation of the scaled back Mass in E minor. Other scholars have posited that Bruckner's change in approach to this mass actually results from his desire to use extended chromatic harmonies within the composition. Because these harmonies create dissonances that require resolution, one can attribute his harmonic approach to Bruckner's striving to convey the notion of the transformation of the individual through faith. An additional theory suggests that confinement of Bruckner in a sanatorium shortly after the first performance of this mass demonstrates he was not in his right mind, and thus the many dark and mysterious images found throughout the mass are evocative of the inner turmoil of his impaired mental state.

The Mass in E minor consists of the five movements of the ordinary of the Catholic service: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus-Benedictus, and Angus Dei. The Kyrie and Gloria begin with a cantor intoning a musical line reminiscent of a Gregorian chant prior to the entrance of the choir. The Kyrie is primarily a vocal work with only intermittent accompaniment by the trombones and horns. The closing of the Gloria in a fugal style is typical of Bruckner's other masses. The Sanctus shows Bruckner's training in counterpoint, as he uses a theme borrowed from the Sanctus of the Missa Brevis by the famous Renaissance composer, Giovanni Battista Pierlugi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594). Palestrina's approach to counterpoint has been studied for centuries by composition students worldwide, and was certainly a part of Bruckner's early training at the Vienna Conservatory.

Kelly Fallon M.A. Candidate in Music History and Literature

Smith Recital Hall
Library of Congress Authorities

Bruckner, Anton, 1824-1896. Masses, no. 2, E minor

  • recitals,
  • choral music,
  • masses
Citation Information
Robert Wray and David Castleberry. "Marshall University Music Department Presents a Mass in E Minor by Anton Bruckner, Marshall University Choral Union, Marshall University Chorus, Robert Wray, conductor, Marshall University Chamber Choir, David Castleberry, conductor" (2013)
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