Beethoven’s most thrilling composition to be performed at UCT


“There is no choral and no orchestral writing, earlier or later, that shows a more thrilling sense of the individual colour of every chord, every position, and every doubled third or discord,” said Sir Donald Tovey, describing Missa Solemnis, considered one of Beethoven’s supreme achievements.

Beethoven Missa Solemnis
Image Supplied by Symphony Choir of Cape Town

We are not sure whether Beethoven was religious or not but one of the most intriguing questions raised by his Missa Solemnis is the extent to which it reflects his own religious feelings. He was considered to be a non-observant Catholic who was fascinated by other religions, but we also know that he did not believe in mechanical observance but was more in favour of an interior experience of spirituality.

Beethoven spent about 4 years composing the work 
when he was at the peak of his powers and invested much of himself in it.  As preparation, he apparently undertook an intensive study of religious music of the past, from monastic chants to Handel’sMessiah (he incorporated the melody of “And He Shall Reign” into his Dona nobis pacem) and of Mozart's Requiem. Indeed, as some have noted, the result was an amalgam of styles, rooted in older traditions but empowered with the grandeur of the symphony of which Beethoven was the undoubted master.

From the meditative Kyrie to the ecstatic Gloria, through the Credo to the softly personal Sanctus, which evolves into a rousing Benedictus, and finally the theatricalAgnus Dei, a full orchestra and choir sweep the audience through a panoply of emotions. The composer himself wrote the words “From the heart – may it return to the heart” on the manuscript and that is exactly what it does.

The UCT (SACM) orchestra along with the Symphony Choir of Cape Town, conducted by Alexander Fokkens, will be performing.

Don’t miss this great work from the height of Beethoven's composing career.

Tickets can be purchased via Quicket at R160 each from

Please note: seating is reserved.


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