The work known as Mass in B Minor was written by Johann Sebastian Bach over the course of a quartet of a century. In 1724, based in Leipzig, for Christmas Bach performed Sanctus, Kyrie and Gloria, together forming a short mass. In 1733 he dedicated this opus to Kurfürst Friedrich August von Sachsen II. In the 1740s Credo appeared, while in 1747–1749 Bach undertook a grandiose project: he composed a complete mass from previously written and new music. There is no historically true evidence as to whether the work was performed in its entirety during Bach’s lifetime or if that event occurred in the 19th century. The first public performance of the mass in full took place in 1859 in Leipzig under the baton of Karl Riedel.
The staggering diversity is combined in the mass with the no less staggering unity. The arias and ensembles of the five soloists, the choruses of four, five, six and eight voices, the violin, flute, oboe and bassoon solos as well as the “hunter’s flute” (corno da caccia) come together in a strict composition. Frequently the parts that seem to be independent are actually totally integral, such as, for example, the duet Domine Deus, Rex coelestis (“O Lord God, Heavenly King”) and the chorus Qui tollis (“who take away the sins of the world...). The “heart” of the mass is centred around the three choruses Et incarnatus, Crucifixus and Et resurrexit, which are dedicated to the embodiment, crucifixion and rebirth of Jesus Christ.