Regina coeli, KV 276 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Notes: The sunny C-major Regina Coeli, K. 276, is the last of three settings Mozart made of this antiphon in praise of the Virgin. Its autograph score is lost so its date of composition is conjectural. Scholars believe that its stylistic similarities to the precisely dated Dominican Vespers place it as a work from 1779. Among its many felicities is the thrice-repeated "Alleluia" whose rhythm immediately recalls in the listener a somewhat familiar chorus by Handel, though it is thought unlikely that Mozart knew Messiah in 1779. That he indeed later knew and admired Messiah is evidenced by his elegant re-orchestration of it in 1789.
- Copyright (c) 1997 by John W. Ehrlich. See The Spectrum Singers for complete program notes.
- Editor: John Henry Fowler (submitted 1999-09-29). Score information: Letter, 16 pages, 967 kB Copyright: CPDL
- Edition notes: Piano reduction of orchestral score.
Description: Mozart's Regina Coeli, K. 276, is a Marian antiphon, a type of liturgical chant common in the Gregorian repertory. Marian antiphons were written specifically to honor the Virgin Mary, and have been sung at the end of Compline, the final Office of the liturgical day, since the thirteenth century. There are four Marian antiphons, one for each season of the year. The Regina Coeli, Latin for "Rejoice Queen of Heaven," is sung from Easter Sunday through the Saturday before Pentecost.
Mozart composed three different settings to this text. All three settings were most likely written for use in the Salzburg cathedral. Mozart's first setting of the Regina Coeli in C major, K. 108, and his second, in B-flat major, K. 127, was written one year later.
In 1772 a new archbishop was installed in Salzburg, Count Hieronymus Colloredo, who immediately attempted to modernize the archdiocese. While the Count actively recruited prominant writers and scientists, the role of court musicians was significantly limited, a source of strong local resentment. During the early years of Colloredo's rule, Mozart wrote many sacred compositions. By 1775, however, he was concentrating on instrumental works and secular vocal pieces, which he often composed for private patrons rather than the court. This tendency, coupled with Leopold Mozart's oft-stated desire to leave Salzburg, contributed greatly to the Count's dissatisfaction with Mozart. In 1777, Mozart asked to be dismissed from the archbishop's service. He traveled to Mannheim and Paris in search of a new position, but none was forthcoming. He returned to Salzburg in Janary of 1779 and obtained the position of court organist. During this time, he composed the 'Coronation' Mass, K. 317, the Missa Solemnis, K. 337, two Vespers settings, K. 321 and K. 339, and this setting of the Regina Coeli, KV 276.
This setting is scored for four soloists, chorus, small orchestra, and organ. Each line is sung by either the chorus, the soloists, or some combination of the two, with a concluding Alleluia sung by the full chorus. The solo lines are remarkably integrated into the work as a whole; they do not have highly ornamental parts, and there is continuous alternation between the soloists and the chorus.
From notes by Robin Wildstein, Tennessee Community Chorus
Text and translations
Original text and translations may be found at Regina caeli.