Frank Martin

Frank Martin

Masterpieces from the 20th century:
Mass for double choir (1922-26)

‘Let’s hope that conviction, youth and something of beauty can still be found in this Mass that is almost half a century old’, wrote Frank Martin in 1970 in the notes to his Mass for double choir, one of the most beautiful unaccompanied choral works of the 20th century. The fact that the son of a Calvinist minister set a Catholic mass to music in the years 1922 to 1926 is remarkable in itself. But that he did not make any effort to get the work performed is rather baffling given the quality of the mass.

Martin was thirty-two when he composed his Mass and no one knew about him yet. In his hometown of Geneva, the conductor Ernest Ansermet was a huge fan, but it would be another twenty years before the international music world would start taking note of this modest Swiss. It was only after he moved to the Netherlands that Martin blossomed and all that time the Mass remained at the bottom of a desk drawer – not waiting for a performance, nor forgotten about. ‘As far as I was concerned it was a matter between God and myself.’ It was not until 1963 that Martin finally dared to share the score, and that was the start of an international tour de force. The Messe pour double choeur is not only sung from Boston to Tokyo and from Aarhus to Zagreb, it has also been recorded on CD many times.

This is a translation of the original Dutch text by Clemens Romijn.


Vincent van Amsterdam (photo Merlijn Doomernik).jpg

Like a Prayer

Netherlands Radio Choir + Vincent van Amsterdam

Wed 22 May 2024 20:15 - 22:00