Tag Archives: Erich Leinsdorf

Schubert, mass No. 6 in E-flat major



Franz Schubert’s Mass No. 6 in E-flat major, D 950, was completed in July 1828, shortly before Schubert’s death on November 19, 1828. Schubert’s brother Ferdinand Schubert conducted the first performance in October 1829.

This performance of the mass was conducted by the late Erich Leinsdorf, music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, on an LP that I purchased in my young adulthood, I had never heard the mass before. It is a splendid performance. Leinsdorf conducts with admirable (un-Leonard Bernstein-like) restraint.

Why is this mass not better known? It is one of Schubert’s greatest works and ranks with the great masses of Haydn and Mozart.

It is a quintessentially Schubertian work. As conveyed in this performance, it is a work of great emotional power, yet it is almost “unassuming,” if one can say that about music. It is very straightforward and almost “modest,” in a way; yet incredibly beautiful, moving, and powerful. (The adjective limpid comes to mind.) There is something unique about it with respect to musical settings of the mass, yet it is not intended to impress the listener with the composer’s genius. It’s all about religiosity.

There is something uplifting about the work, an element in almost all of Schubert’s music, despite the fact that his music is anything but superficial and that he plumbs emotional depths — as, for example, in his Quintet in C major, opus 163 (D. 956).

It reminds me in a way of qualities I associate with Schubert’s fifth symphony.


— Roger W. Smith

   June 2019




Approximately 3:50 into Part 1 on this recording (the first side of the LP), there is a beautiful Schubertian passage in the long first movement: Kyrie, Andante con moto, quasi Allegretto.