Town Hall, Birmingham
University Music Society
University Choir and Philharmonic Orchestra
Daniele Rosina conductor
Missa in angustiis (‘Nelson’ Mass)
Symphony No. 5
Haydn’s chief biographer, H. C. Robbins Landon, wrote that this Mass in D minor ‘is arguably Haydn’s greatest single composition’. It was completed in the summer of 1798, a terrifying time for Austria, and given the title Missa in angustiis (‘Mass for Troubled Times’). What Haydn did not know at the time — but what he and his audience had heard by the date of the first performance (15 September) – is that on 1 August Napoleon had been dealt a stunning defeat at the Battle of the Nile by British forces led by Admiral Horatio Nelson. This is why the Mass became known as the ‘Nelson’ Mass.