The Westminster Cathedral was the venue on Saturday of the UK premiere of the Mass in F major by the Polish composer, singer and diplomat Prince Józef Michał Ksawery Poniatowski.
Written in 1867, the work is scored for four solo voices, chorus and piano. It was performed by musicians from Poland, UK, Portugal, France and Italy.
Dedicated to the King of Portugal Don Louis I, it was discovered only several years ago by the Polish Heritage Society in the UK. It was premiered in Poland in 2011.
The concert was held under the patronage of Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Polish Ambassador Witold Sobków, and supported by the Polish Heritage Society.
Józef Michał Ksawery Poniatowski was the grandson of the oldest brother of the last King of Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski, and the nephew of fabled Napoleonic marshal Prince Józef Poniatowski.
Born out of wedlock in Rome in 1816, to an Italian mother, he spent most of his life in Paris. His output includes a dozen or so operas written for Italian and French theatres. He died and is buried in Chislehurst (now a district of London) in 1873, the same year and place as Napoleon III Bonaparte. Poniatowski was at his service and accompanied the former emperor in exile in England.