Friedrich Schneider (1786–1853) Missa in a op. posthum
Urtext edited by Nick Pfefferkorn [dble mix ch] duration: 30'
80 pages | 19 x 27 cm | 235 g | ISMN: 979-0-004-41351-7 | Saddle Stitch
Friedrich Schneider’s dedication to sacred vocal music dates back into his early years as a schoolboy in Zittau. As of today Schneider is - if at all - only known as the composer of the ground-breaking oratorio The Last Judgement, but his extensive compositional output, which serves nearly all musical genres, is unknown to a great extent. Breitkopf & Härtel will fill this gap in the coming years.
The mass in A minor presented here (No. 8) is his second completed a-cappella mass. It was composed during September 9 to 28, 1815 and thus still falls into the almost overproductive Leipzig years of the composer. It would be no exaggeration to say, that Schneider gained his overwhelming treatment and the finishing touches of the choruses in his oratorios by his year long preoccupation with the genre of the mass. Although the majority of his masses remained unpublished, they enjoyed great popularity, which is evidently by the numerous copies that are preserved in several libraries.
Johann Christian Friedrich Schneider was born on 3 January 1786 in Altwaltersdorf, near the city of Zittau, Saxony; he was the elder of two sons born to the schoolmaster and organist, Johann Gottlob Schneider (1753–1840), who provided young Friedrich’s general and musical education, with particular emphasis on playing instruments such as the piano, organ, violin, cello and various wind instruments. During his subsequent schooling at the Zittau Gymnasium, which he attended from 1798 onwards, Schneider developed a remarkable talent for composition. He soon became a prominent member of the local school choir and was eventually chosen to be a tenor soloist. Between April 1804 and July 1805 he held the post of prefect. In 1805 he moved to Leipzig to study Humanities and further his musical education with August Eberhard Müller (1767–1817) and Johann Gottfried Schicht (1753–1823); he was even promoted by Johann Friedrich Rochlitz (1769–1842), the founder of the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, and before long became the holder of a diverse number of positions in the city’s musical life.
From 1810 onwards he became music director of the Seconda’schen Operngesellschaft (Joseph Seconda’s Opera Society); this was followed by appointments as the organist at St Thomas Church, in 1813, as head of the Academy of Music in 1816, and as director of the municipal theatre from 1817 onwards. In this way he rapidly became one of the leading figures in Leipzig’s musical world.
As early as 1812 he had married the singer Elisa Geibel, who was to die in childbirth the following year (the child was stillborn). On 3 January 1815 he married her sister, Katharina Maria, and they went on to have four children together, two girls and two boys. Although he devoted himself to composition in various musical genres during his Leipzig years, he did not achieve a reputation as a composer until 1820. Indeed, it was the unexpected success of his second oratorio, Das Weltgericht (The Last Judgement), at its first performance on 6 March 1820 that finally marked his breakthrough as a composer of note. The unique triumph of that work within his output continued for almost three decades, with numerous performances that gained Schneider a considerable reputation and lasting recognition, both nationally and internationally.
The following year, he succeeded the late Leopold Carl Reinicke (1774–1820) as the court Kapell meister of Anhalt-Dessau. His first task upon enter ing service was to overhaul the court orchestra (Hofkapelle) and in a very short time he developed it into a capable orchestra that became widely recognised and appreciated. After the Leipzig model, periodical subscription concerts were established, a singing academy was inaugurated and – together with the poet, Wilhelm Müller (1794–1827) – he also founded the Dessau Liedertafel. Utilising both the newly organised school choir and the male choir of the Teachers’ Society, Friedrich Schneider then established a regular concert service in the town’s three churches. In line with the prevailing trend for opening conservatories in Germany, Schneider himself opened a music school in 1829, an institution from which more than 120 students graduated before its closure in 1844. His nation wide reputation was strengthened by – in addition to his compositions – Schneider’s regular appearances as a conductor at the numerous music festivals taking place across Germany; he continued to fulfil engagements such as this until late in his life. During his years in Dessau, oratorios, sacred music and many works for male choir were the focus of his compositional output.
From around 1830 onwards, however, he composed less and retreated more frequently to Zerbst, a small and quiet town where he could take plea-sure in indulging his fondness for gardening, literature and astronomy. By this point in his life, Schneider was an honorary member of at least twenty-five musical organisations. Among the many awards he received, particularly worthy of mention are the honorary doctorates he was accorded by the universities of Halle and Leipzig, and his honorary membership of the New York Philharmonic Society and the Stockholm Academy of Music, as well as the Royal Danish Dannebrog order.
When he died on 23 November 1853, however, he left his widow († 8 January 1857) with a mountain of debt, which prompted her to request donations in the musical press.
Schneider’s musical œuvre comprises 16 oratorios, including Die Totenfeier (Funeral Rites) UA: 1821, Berlin; Die Sündfluth (The Deluge) 1824, Cologne; Das verlorene Paradies (Paradise Lost) 1825, Magdeburg; and Christus, der Meister (Christ, the Master) 1828, Nuremberg; there are also many other sacred vocal compositions. In addition, he wrote six operas and large number of instrumental works; among the latter are 23 symphonies, 20 overtures, 7 piano concertos and a considerable corpus of chamber works – piano trios, piano quartets, piano quintets, piano sonatas (for both two and four hands) and 10 string quartets. He also produced an extensive collection of dances and sets of variations, plus numerous arrangements and vocal scores of operas and other works by Beethoven, Cherubini, Mozart, Spontini et al.
Schneider undoubtedly owed his reputation to the overwhelming triumph of his Last Judgement, but his success was reinforced by the fact that he understood the requirements of the increasingly popular music festivals and of the flourishing amateur choral societies of the period (e.g. the need for easy-to-sing vocal music). In the contemporary press, he was even described as the “Händel of our time.”
Moreover, Schneider’s oratorios and other compositions found favour with both critics and the general public. Through his work as conductor, administrator and composer, he exerted considerable influence over the development of the music festival in the nineteenth century. The Elbemusikfeste (Elbe Music Festivals), which began as of 1826, were inextricably linked with his name. He was also held in high esteem by his contemporaries as a chorus master and orchestral teacher, as well as for his support of the developing male choral societies; the latter provided a receptive audience for his songs and choruses that equalled the positive responses his masses and operas.
Translated by David Babcock