About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“Catholics in America have been the heirs of a sentimental and subjective hymn tradition that, for some reason or other, has taken a deep and fast hold on the fancy of the average person.”
— Fr. Francis Brunner (1953)
What Happened To The Great Ones?
published 14 February 2011 by Jeff Ostrowski

The first piece of great music I ever fell in love with was Bach’s Mass in b minor, which is also simply called the “Great Mass.” I’ve listened to this piece for close to two decades, and it still gets better and better with each passing day. Although it is not liturgically appropriate for the Catholic Mass, it is still a great piece of music. I’m not sure I would argue with someone who claimed it was the greatest piece of music ever composed. I’m really not at all sure I would argue with such a claim.

By far, my favorite recording of this piece is . . . (are you ready??!!) . . . the early recording by Robert Shaw. I’m aware that some will be very upset I’ve admitted this. They will say, “The tempi are so slow! The singing so thick with vibrato! Etc.”

All I can say is that even after almost twenty years this is still my favorite recording . . . by far!

Of course I love every movement. The KYRIE, the GLORIA, etc. Each movement is spectacular. Words cannot express how great each movement is. However, I think (perhaps) that the greatest movement of all may be the GRATIAS AGIMUS TIBI (which is identical to the DONA NOBIS PACEM with the exception of some brass ornamentation towards the end).

Here is the GRATIAS AGIMUS TIBI: Mp3 Audio

I believe this recording was made by Shaw in 1947. I would do anything to locate a remastered copy on CD.

By the way, it’s not a “perfect” recording. Listen to the soprano rush here: Mp3 Audio