“Missa brevis in F in score. This was the first Mass which Mr. Haydn composed whilst still a student”, says an entry in the catalogue of Haydn’s musical estate. Circa 1798/99 Haydn entered the work without an incipit in his working catalogue as “Missa brevis in F. / a due Soprani”.
Around 1805/06 he added in shaky, decrepit handwriting to the title “Missa.” on the front page of the organ part of one of the set of parts prepared by his copyist Johann Elßler: “Brevis / di me Giuseppe Haydn mpria / 1749”. This date, the earliest yet found on a work by Haydn, corresponds to the title of the Haydn catalogue, which indicates the eighteenth year of Haydn’s life, i. e. 1749/50, as the starting point of his work: “Catalogue of all those compositions which I happen to remember writing from my 18th to my 73rd year of life.”
In 1805 Haydn set about adding further instruments to the original scoring for two violins and figured organ bass, and by 15th February 1806 the larger instrumentation was ready, as is evidenced by a letter written on this very day by the Haydn biographer Georg August Griesinger. It is, however, by no means certain whether the seventy-three-year-old undertook this adaptation himself.
- Urtext from Joseph Haydn Werke
- Full score, parts (BA4644) and vocal score (BA4644-90) available for sale
- Early string version and later version with wind instruments and timpani