Programme Notes

„Good God – behold completed this poor little Mass – is it indeed sacred music (musique sacrée) that I have just written, or merely some damned music (sacrée musicque)? You know well, I was born for comic opera. A little science, a little heart, that is all. So may you be blessed, and grant me Paradise!”


Rossini wrote these lines with a certain irony which is evident in the score, for example, by his use of the term “Allegro Cristiano” (“Christian Allegro”), found at the beginning of the “Credo” movement.


34 years after the composition of his last opera, Rossini composed his “Petite Messe Solenelle”, which he called one of his “sins of old age”. The premiere of this commissioned work took place on March 14, 1864, in a private chapel. It was originally written for two pianos, a harmonium, a small chorus and “the four best soloists in the world”. Partly fearing that this work would be arranged by others after his death, Rossini decided to arrange it for orchestra as well as a large chorus himself. This version premiered three years after his death, on February 28, 1869 in Paris, on what would have been his 70th birthday.