In March 1896 Diepenbrock turned to the counterpart of the Stabat mater dolorosa text: the Stabat mater speciosa, which has also been attributed to Jacopone da Todi and was published in 1852 by the medieval scholar Antoine Frédéric Ozanam. The poem sketches Maria’s feelings of joy after the birth of her son. In many places Diepenbrock reused material from his earlier composition, thus creating a musical diptych with panels that, despite their thematic similarities, are very different in colour and character.
In April and July 1898 respectively, the two works were published in an unusual form, inspired by fifteenth-century part books, by De Algemeene Muziekhandel (see RC 34).
The premiere of the Stabat mater speciosa, conducted by Johan Schoonderbeek, took place in the Great Church in Naarden on 29 June 1902, at a concert that included a memorable performance of Diepenbrock’s Te Deum by a large ad hoc choir. The programme also featured his Stabat mater dolorosa and a chorus from Wagner’s Meistersinger (Mastersingers). The execution of the a cappella works left much to be desired:
“Especially the Dolorosa, which failed somewhat because it already went wrong right from the start, despite all the attempts I made to teach it to him.” (BD III:423)
While Anton Averkamp was an advocate for the more intimate Stabat mater dolorosa, the exuberant Stabat mater speciosa was a favourite of Sem Dresden. He gave many a performance of the work with his Madrigal Society and his Haarlemsche Motet- en Madrigaal-Vereeniging, the first of which was most likely on 12 May 1917. Matthijs Vermeulen wrote about it in the daily newspaper De Telegraaf:
A Stabat Mater speciosa, which Diepenbrock composed about twenty years ago as the counterpart of his Stabat Mater dolorosa, was one of the most important works on Sem Dresden’s programme. It presents the heart-rending and melancholically-coloured motives of the Stabat Mater dolorosa […] in a joyful and tender, jubilant tone; one of the works depicts the Mother at the Cross, the other the Mother by the Crib. For us all and also for the composer it was the first performance in the work’s long life, because what happened to Diepenbrock’s Mass, also happened to this Stabat: the author made a masterpiece nobody had asked for and in which nobody was interested, although it is warming to sing with its southerly, charming melodies, embellished with the most nuanced harmonic colours, like the paintings of the ancient primitives. Its illumination is brilliant, its piety antique, its longing and restless sensitivity modern. (BD IX:568)