Hora Novissima (The Newest Hour)
by Horatio Parker


Works by Mozart

In Celebration of the 250th Anniversary of his Birth

Winter 2006 Concert Notes

Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joseph Jacovino, Jr., Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Orchestra
- Soloists -
Louise Fauteux - Soprano
Colleen Callahan - Mezzo Soprano
Richard Slade - Tenor
Kevin Grace - Baritone

Sunday March 12, 2006 - 3:00pm
St. Rose of Lima Church, Newtown, Connecticut

- Soloists - Review - CD -

Hora Novissima (The Newest Hour) – Horatio Parker

Horatio William Parker
Horatio William Parker
1863 - 1919

Horatio Parker’s magnificent Hora Novissima was the most famous, best-loved and most-often-sung American oratorio of the Romantic era. Set to Latin text, its subject dwells on the ecstasy of heavenly existence. It is a gorgeous and majestic work with the common thread of glorifying the City of Zion throughout. The text is taken from the monumental poem De Contemptu Mundi by Bernard of Cluny, a 12th century monk.

With its dramatic sweeps and beautiful melodies, incorporating both lyrical and heroic themes, Hora Novissima shows Parker’s instincts for massed effects including majestic choral writing, full development of hymn-like themes, as well as great fugues and chant contrasted with stunning effect.

Hora Novissima was composed in 1893 and received its first performance in New York that same year. It quickly achieved renown throughout the United States. In 1899, Parker’s fame crossed the Atlantic with the performance of Hora Novissima at the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester, England.

Born just outside of Boston, Horatio William Parker (1863-1919) was regarded in his own lifetime as the most internationally successful American composer a superior craftsman writing the most advanced style. He taught at the National Conservatory of Music in New York, was organist and choirmaster of the famed Trinity Church in Boston and St. Nicholas’ Church in New York City. He also conducted the New Haven Symphony, the New Haven Choral Society and was Dean of the Music Department at Yale University where he was the teacher of many prominent American composers.

Horatio Parker with Brownie
Horatio Parker with Brownie
at his New Haven home

He was a prolific and versatile composer writing two operas, songs, organ music, incidental music, and a copious quantity of music for chorus and orchestra.

He was primarily influenced by the music of nineteenth-century Europe. In Hora Novissima, one can hear echoes of Brahms, Mendelssohn, Wagner, and Elgar, and even a prelude as to what would be heard from Carl Orff many years later.

Prior to WWI, Hora Novissima was the most popular choral work in the United States, performed more often than Handel’s Messiah. Music scholars are puzzled as to why this work has been neglected since that time, but recently reissued choral and orchestral scores give choirs and audiences the opportunity to once again experience this landmark American classic.

Ave Verum Corpus; Missa Brevis in D – Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
1756 - 1791

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 1791) is among the most significant and enduringly popular composers of European classical music. His enormous output includes works that are widely acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. Many of his works are part of the standard concert repertoire and are widely recognized as masterpieces of the classical style. Mozart himself is universally recognized as a musical genius, having learned to compose at the age of five and showing an encyclopedic and prodigious grasp of almost every musical form of his time, despite having lived for only 35 years.

Mozart’s setting of the ancient hymn Ave verum Corpus, K.618, was written for a friend Anton Stoll, who was musical coordinator in the parish of Baden, near Vienna. It was composed to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi in June 1791, six months prior to Mozart’s death. The hymn is a meditation on the Catholic belief in Jesus' Real Presence in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and ties it to the redemptive meaning of suffering in the life of all believers. Known for its elegance and beauty, it has been a favorite of choirs worldwide for centuries.

Mozart’s Missa Brevis in D (K. 194) is one of the early Mass settings, written when Mozart was a mere 18 years old and employed by the archbishop of Salzburg. Although simple and brief, the work abounds in melody and invention. The Agnus Dei is one of the composer’s most poignant settings.