Mozart’s Coronation Mass

The Edge, Federation Square

Hear some of the nation’s finest young singers battle it out in the final of Australia’s most prestigious oratorio soloists award, accompanied by the brilliant pianist RMP Principal Accompanist Stefan Cassomenos.

This evening will also feature a full-scale performance of one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most beloved sacred works – the majestic

Krönungsmesse (Coronation Mass) in C Major, KV. 317 and the

Church Sonata No. 16 in C major KV 329 (317a) 

Mozart wrote his Mass in C, K. 317, popularly known as the Coronation Mass, in 1779, during the time that he was court organist and composer to the Archbishop of Salzburg. It is no doubt the best known and, for many, the finest of the masses that he wrote for Salzburg. Although there is no definite record of a performance, its full orchestration and bright tone suggest that it was probably performed in the Salzburg cathedral at Easter of 1779. It is thought also to have been performed years later during celebrations for the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II and perhaps also for that of his successor, Francis II.

Given its splendid orchestration and its ceremonial character, this mass appears to be a solemn, or “high” mass. It is however also a “short mass,” the kind of condensed work that Mozart’s employer required even for great or solemn occasions. As Mozart described it in a letter, the music plus the spoken portions of the service “must not last longer than three quarters of an hour. This applies even to the most Solemn Mass said by the Archbishop himself. So you see that a special study is required for this kind of composition. At the same time, the mass must have all the instruments — trumpets, drums and so forth.”

Despite the archbishop’s time limitations, it appears that Mozart may well have inserted a brief church sonata between movements. One of his seventeen single-movement church sonatas has been associated with his Coronation Mass, since it was written about the same time, is in the same key, and has the same orchestration, although the organ is obbligato. It has the largest orchestration of any of the church sonatas. When Alfred Einstein revised Koechel’s numbering of Mozart’s works, he altered the number of this sonata from K. 329 to K. 317a to reflect its connection with this mass, which is K. 317. The normal place in the church service for such a sonata would have been between the Gloria and the Credo, as the celebrant moves from one side of the choir, where he has read the epistle, to the other side, where he reads the gospel. It seems appropriate, therefore, to insert this sonata between the Gloria and Credo in these performances  of Mozart’s Coronation Mass.

Featuring :

Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra

Outstanding soloists TBA

Conducted by Andrew Wailes


3pm, Matinee performance (concert only)

7pm, Evening Gala (includes concert at the Final of the 2024 RMP Aria, as well as a champagne reception)