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Dvorak's Mass in D major was commissioned by leading architet and artistic patron Josef Hlavka for the consecration of his private chapel. Dvorak, who thought very highly of Hlavka, was glad to oblige and wrote a mass for solos, choir and organ, completing the work within three months.
Although the work is modest in scale, the composer created an exquisite work rich in melodic and harmonic imagery, whose exceptional quality destined it for far greater things than a mere occasional piece. Particularly appealing is its evocation of old church modes combined with the most up-to-date approaches in harmony at that time, distinct elements which Dvorak uniquely brought together with unerring spontaneity. The mass is pure Dvorak: it clearly reflects the composer's humble faith, his natural humility in the face of a higher Order, and his true joy of life.
The first edition of the mass was published by the English firm Novello, and the mass soon achieved great popularity in England.
This adopted English work is combined with Elgar's sonorous Ave Verum and the beautiful elegiac anthem God be in my head by Yorkshire-based composer Philip Wilby.
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