The title of the work "Missa in tempore belli" (Mass in Time of War)
recalls the war conducted by the Austrian Emperor Franz against France,
whose young general Bonaparte was then rushing from one victory to the
next. In August 1796 Vienna had to mobilize its troops. The subtitle
"Paukenmesse" or Kettledrum Mass, comes from the prominent timpani and
brass instruments in the last section of the Mass. The dramatic military
sounds are made all the more striking as Haydn transforms the music into a
fervent prayer for peace.
Leonard Bernstein led this performance of the Mass at the Basilica of
Ottobeuren on 30 September 1984 with the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra of
the Bavarian Radio. The soloists were Judith Blegen (soprano), Brigitte
Fassbaender (alto), Claes H. Ahnsjö (tenor) and Hans Sotin (bass).
Bernstein said: "How does it feel to conduct a Haydn mass in this
extraordinary, deeply impressive setting of the Ottobeuren Basilica? It
feels perfect. If I had to imagine this mass visually and translate it into
architectural terms, from one art to another, or in decorative terms - this
is what I would imagine. It is the Haydn Mass."