Mass in B Minor BWV 232
Johann Sebastian Bach

89

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The seventh of Bach's 11 entries, this has appeared in every Hall of Fame chart. It peaked at number 66 in 1996 and fell to its lowest ever position of number 157 in the most recent countdown.

There are several reasons why many Bach-lovers regard the B minor Mass as the pinnacle of his work. Size, for one, singles it out, even when compared to his previous titans, the St. John Passion and the St. Matthew Passion. It also contains some of the most engaging passages of music that he ever wrote, such as the opening five-part 'Kyrie Eleison'. Composed around 1748 — 1749, it came at the end of Bach's life, when he had only one year left to live.

When the work is heard in its entirety, the listener comes away with the impression that this is a piece of music the composer had been building up to writing for the whole of his life. it therefore seems ironic that much of this best-loved work was 'bottom-drawer' music music that Bach had either put by earlier or recycled. Despite being a motley disarray of homeless Mass sections on paper, it sounds completely wonderful.