9 Different Ave Maria versions from Bach, Schubert … to Vavilov

Different Ave Maria versions

Ave Maria, This simple but incredibly moving melody is beloved by many people around the world. There are over 3000 compositions hailing Maria, Ave Maria, But what the story is behind Ave Maria? and who wrote it?

Ave Maria meaning

Ave Maria is an ancient and important Catholic prayer, recognized pretty much everywhere throughout the Christian world, as many composers have created musical settings for ave maria down through the centuries.

Ave Maria is very popular and used in many occasions. With regards to wedding melodies, the lovely Ave Maria is constantly a famous decision. Below is a handful of the most famous of the different Ave Maria versions (compositions) that are heard throughout the world.

Continue reading below to learn about 6 famous Ave Maria versions, by different composers from Bach, Schubert … to Vavilov.

Or, if you like to listen to a long playlist click here: 40 Ave Maria versions playlist

1. Ave Maria – Schubert 

Let’s start with an essential Ave Maria Version. Schubert’s “Ellens dritter Gesang” in English: “Ellen’s Third Song”, is one of the world’s favourite settings of ‘Ave Maria’.

The song contains the words ‘Ave Maria’, but only in reference to the traditional Roman Catholic prayer. Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828) wrote it in 1825, aged 28, as part of his Opus 52, a setting of seven songs from Walter Scott’s popular epic poem “The Lady of the Lake”, loosely translated into German.

It has become one of Schubert’s most popular works, is widely sung at Catholic masses and other Christian religious ceremonies. It recorded by a wide variety and large number of singers, under the title of Ave Maria, in arrangements with various lyrics which commonly differ from the original context of the poem. It was also arranged in three versions for piano by Franz Liszt.

Find out more about Ave Maria – Schubert here.



Schubert ‘s Ave Maria song Latin Lyrics:

Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus
Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus
Et benedictus fructus ventris
Ventris tuae, Jesus.
Ave Maria

Ave Maria
Mater Dei
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Ora pro nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Nunc et in hora mortis
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Ave Maria


Schubert ‘s Ave Maria song English Lyrics (translation):

Hail Mary, full of grace,
 Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Hail, Hail, the Lord.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed,
Blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Thy womb, Jesus.
Hail Mary!

Hail Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Pray, pray for us;
Pray, pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death,
The hour of our death / The hour of our death,
The hour of our death / Hail Mary.


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2. Ave Maria – Bach/Gounod

Any list of Ave Maria versions must include this piece. In 1853, a famous Bach keyboard prelude became a popular setting of the Ave Maria under the title “Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de Piano de J.S. Bach”.

The piece consists of a melody by the French Romantic composer Charles Gounod (1818-1893) especially designed to be superimposed over the Prelude no. 1 in C major, BWV 846, from Book I of J.S. Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier”, a book of piano music Bach wrote around 137 years earlier to sell to students interested in learning and perfecting their piano techniques.

Alongside Schubert’s Ave Maria, the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria has become a fixture at wedding masses, funerals. There are many different instrumental arrangements of Bach’s Ave Maria including for violin and guitar, string quartet, piano solo, cello, and even trombones.

Performers, such as Luciano Pavarotti, Anna Moffo, José Carreras, Bobby McFerrin as well as choirs have recorded it hundreds of times during the twentieth century. Jackie Evancho sang it on AGT Finals. It’s also in Hayley Westenra’s album, River of Dreams.

Related playlist: Pavarotti Duets

Luciano Pavarotti - Ave maria by Charles Gounod
Luciano Pavarotti - Ave maria by Charles Gounod

Luciano Pavarotti - Ave maria by Charles Gounod

3. Ave Maria – Caccini

Many argue that This piece was composed by Italian Gullio Caccini (kachini)(1551-1618) not by Vladimir Vavilov (1925-1973).

In fact, the setting didn’t come to light until the twentieth century. One plausible reason as to why this might be is that this Ave Maria arguably wasn’t composed until then.

Also its composition structure cannot belong to 16th century, so it was a relatively unknown Russian (Soviet) guitarist and composer Vladimir Vavilov who composed it, and recorded it as an anonymous work in 1970. He recorded it under the label Melodia in 1972.

Why it is attributed to Gullio Caccini?

Well, It was because of Vavilov’s great reverence for the Virgin Mary at the time when religious composition was criminal under communism, so he had to attribute the song to Julio Caccini as the composer. The Soviet leaders suppressed creators of works, which were not in line with the communist theory. In this atmosphere, Vavilov could not risk to come out, as the author of this beautiful music with such an “Anti-Soviet” name “Ave Maria”. 

Its presence on any classical crossover singer’s album is now almost guaranteed, popularized by Andrea Bocelli and especially by the Latvian soprano Inessa Galante who recorded it in 1995.

Ave Maria di Caccini (Vavilov) - Nina Solodovnikova
Ave Maria di Caccini (Vavilov) - Nina Solodovnikova

Ave Maria di Caccini (Vavilov) - Nina Solodovnikova

Caccini’s Ave Maria composition lyrics

Ave Maria, Ave Maria
Ave Maria, Ave Maria
Ave Maria, Ave Maria
Ave Maria, Ave Maria

Also discover: This beautiful hymn songs list will give you hope and peace!


4. Ave Maria – Elgar 

Edward Elgar‘s church music is rooted in his Roman Catholicism, and it is also inseparably associated with the great Anglican Cathedral of his native city of Worcester.

He composed “Ave Maria” in 1887 as a part of his Opus 2, while he was working as organist at St George’s Roman Catholic Church, Worcester. It was dedicated to Mrs Hubert Leicester, wife of his great friend and the choirmaster at St. George’s. Hubert wrote in grateful acknowledgement of this: “You cannot realise how pleased my wife was at your kind thought of her, & you know that I am more than pleased … The farther we travel from the old days & the old associations the dearer they become. There must be many pieces among your ‘archives’ that would, if published, be hailed with delight by the Catholics”.

Beside No2 “Ave Maria”, his Opus 2 also contains anthems written for St George’s Church include No1 “Ave Verum Corpus” and No 3 “Ave maris stella”.

Related playlist: Beautiful Hymns & Chants

Elgar - Ave Maria, Op. 2
Elgar - Ave Maria, Op. 2

Elgar - Ave Maria, Op. 2

5. Ave Maria – Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi Verdi (1813-1901) composed a piece with the title “Ave Maria” as an aria in the last act of his great opera “Otello” based on Shakespeare’s play Othello. 

It is sung by Desdemona, the heroine of Verdi’s opera, for all the people who suffer as much as she does. But her prayers didn’t stop the jealous husband Otello from murdering her in her bed.

It is an incredibly powerful argument for how goodness and love can survive in even the most nightmarish circumstances and testify to Desdemona goodness and her continuing love for her husband Otello, despite his despicable treatment of her.

Sonya Yoncheva - Verdi: Otello, Ave Maria, piena di grazia
Sonya Yoncheva - Verdi: Otello, Ave Maria, piena di grazia

Sonya Yoncheva - Verdi: Otello, Ave Maria, piena di grazia

Verdi’s Ave Maria prayer Latin lyrics:

Ave Maria, piena di grazia, eletta
Fra le spose e le vergini sei tu,
Sia benedetto il frutto, o benedetta,
Di tue materne viscere, Gesù.
Prega per chi adorando a te si prostra,
Prega nel peccator, per l’innocente,
E pel debole oppresso e pel possente,
Misero anch’esso, tua pietà dimostra.
Prega per chi sotto l’oltraggio piega
La fronte e sotto la malvagia sorte;
Per noi, per noi tu prega, prega
Sempre e nell’ora della morte nostra
Prega per noi, prega per noi, prega.
Ave Maria . . .
Nell’ora della morte.
Ave!. . .Amen!

Verdi’s Ave Maria prayer English lyrics (translation):

Hail Mary, full of grace, chosen
among wives and maidens art thou,
blessed be the fruit, o blessed one,
of thy womb, Jesus.
Pray for the one who kneels in prayer before you,
pray for the sinner, for the one who is innocent,
and for the weak and oppressed, and for the mighty,
also wretched, show thy mercy.
Pray for the one who bows his head
under injustice and under misfortune;
for us, pray thou for us, pray
ever and in the hour of our death,
pray for us, pray for us, pray.
Hail Mary . . .
in the hour of our death.
Hail! . . . Amen!


6. Ave Maria – Mascagni

This is the last work in our list of Ave Maria versions. Pietro Mascagni’s Ave Maria is a hymn set to music as an interlude (a piece of music performed between two scenes or acts in an opera) in his world-famous Opera “Cavalleria Rusticana” (1890). The opera tells a story about The love and jealousy in a Sicilian village, the drama ending in the death of Turiddu, the young Santuzza’s faithless lover, whom she betrays to a man whom he has deceived.

Joyce DiDonato - Mascagni - 'Ave, Maria'
Joyce DiDonato - Mascagni - 'Ave, Maria'

Joyce DiDonato - Mascagni - 'Ave, Maria'

Mascagni ‘s Ave Maria song Italian lyrics:

Ave Maria, madre Santa,
Sorreggi il piè del misero che t’implora,
In sul cammin del rio dolor
E fede, e speme gl’infondi in cor.

O pietosa, tu che soffristi tanto,
Vedi, ah! Vedi il mio penar.
Nelle crudeli ambasce d’un infinito pianto,
Deh! Non m’abbandonar.

Ave Maria! In preda al duol,
Non mi lasciar, o madre mia, pietà!
O madre mia, pietà! In preda al duol,
Non mi lasciar, non mi lasciar.


Mascagni’s Ave Maria song English lyrics (translation):

Hail Mary, holy Mother,
Guide the feet of this wretched one who implores thee
Along the path of bitter grief
And fill the heart with faith and hope.

O merciful Mother, thou who suffered so greatly,
See, ah! see my anguish.
Ah! Do not abandon me
To the cruel torment of endless weeping.

Hail, Mary! Oppressed by grief,
Do not leave me, O Mother, have mercy!
O Mother, have mercy! Oppressed by grief,
Do not leave me, do not leave me.

7. Ave Maria – Brahms 

If you love voices in harmony this is a piece that you will love.

J. Brahms (1833-1897) Composed Ave Maria piece in the autumn of 1858 for Women’s Chorus and orchestra with an organ part to be used in lieu of an orchestra, based on folksong-like models.

The Ave Maria and the contemporaneous Begräbnisgesang, Op. 13, represent the composer’s first attempts at combining vocal and orchestral forces.

Brahms ‐ Ave Maria Op 12 andante
Brahms ‐ Ave Maria Op 12 andante

Brahms ‐ Ave Maria Op 12 andante

8. Ave Maria – Cherubini 

Italian composer Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842) is often spoken of as ‘an Italian composer writing German opera for a French audience’.

His piece “Ave Maria” is originally scored for soprano, clarinet in C, two violins, viola, cello and bass accompaniment.

Vilnius university chamber orchestra - L .Cherubini 'Ave Maria'
Vilnius university chamber orchestra - L .Cherubini 'Ave Maria'

Vilnius university chamber orchestra - L .Cherubini 'Ave Maria'

9. Ave Maria – SKIPPER

Composer SKIPPER who started his career a t age 6, composed a song with Ave Maria title in 1998 which – like Charles Gounod – is based upon a meditation of the C Major Prelude of Johann Sebastian Bach.

AVE MARIA by N. SKIPPER - Italian Lyrics by M.L. Reitberger.wmv
AVE MARIA by N. SKIPPER - Italian Lyrics by M.L. Reitberger.wmv

AVE MARIA by N. SKIPPER - Italian Lyrics by M.L. Reitberger.wmv

I hope you enjoyed my list of Ave Maria versions. You can find many other versions and covers here: 40 Ave Maria versions playlist

Related playlist: Beautiful Hymns & Chants

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