Missa in F


Composer: Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722)
Editor: Evangeline Rimbach

The Mass in F is a so-called Kurzemesse—a short mass consisting of only Kyrie and Gloria. It is rather unique for the fact that it is a bass solo mass. The mass is scored for bass soloist, two violins, viola, and continuo. The continuo part called for bass viol, bassoon and organ. It is also interesting to note that the bassoon part was written for a French bassoon in B-flat. The use of a baroque bassoon creates a nice balance in the continuo part. The bass solo part is not terribly difficult and is greatly enhanced by adding ornamentation to the repeat of the Kyrie and the final Amen.

This product is available as a digital download only; you may only order one as the price is inclusive of the full score and all parts.


Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722)  was Bach’s predecessor at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.  In 1682 he entered the University of Leipzig and was licensed to practice law upon the completion of his dissertation in 1688.  He was elected in 1683 as the organist at the St. Thomas Church and later as Cantor, a position he held until his death in 1722.  All his keyboard compositions were written and published during his tenure as organist, including the six Biblical Sonatas.  His sacred choral music (cantatas, Magnificat, and Passion) was composed while he served as Cantor.  Kuhnau was also known as an author, having written both musical treatises and novels.  His most famous literary work was The Musical Charlatan (Der musikalische Quacksalber).  Kuhnau was a man of many talents:  he was a classical scholar, a linguist, a jurist, a writer, as well as a musician.

According to sources dating before World War II, there were two or three masses by Kuhnau in church archives in eastern Germany.  During the 1960s while working on my Ph.D. dissertation on the church cantatas of Johann Kuhnau, I tried to procure manuscripts of the masses, but it was often difficult to get materials from East Germany.  One of the extant masses was said to be in the church archives in Mügeln, a small town near

Leipzig.  Currently the town of Mügeln has a website, and on the website are listed the addresses of the pastors’ offices of the two city churches.  Letters were subsequently written to the church offices requesting a photocopy of the mass manuscript.  Several months later a package arrived in the mail from the Landeskirchenarchiv in Dresden with a photocopy of the mass.  The manuscript contained both score and parts.  It is interesting to note that the new Grove’s Dictionary states that this mass is lost!

—Evangeline Rimbach