There was no room for a stage, and no time for scene changes.) Wolff, Christoph. Little is known with certainty about the creation process of the St Matthew Passion. Only two survive today; the second of these, the St. Matthew Passion dates from 1729. Voices is a blog by Bruderhof members, covering topics important to us and to you. The LP comes with a two-page leaflet and original liner notes by Sir John in English and German. Indeed, it is clear that his devotion to Christ was deep and personal. One can only imagine what St. Augustine, who agonized over the seductive dangers of chant, would make of it. As Hans David Gardiner, John Eliot. The chorales, by the way, are not Bach’s own melodies, but familiar tunes that he borrowed and arranged. Listen to excerpt 2 – and note the evangelist, the turbae, and the strings accompanying the voice of Jesus. He began earning his own living at fifteen as a chorister and violinist in a court orchestra, and later became a church organist. Singing a chorale, on the other hand, presumes the participation of everyone in the choir (and in Bach’s day, the entire congregation as well), and allows each singer to voice – and thus admit – his complicit guilt in relation to Christ's death, and his longing for redemption. Chris and his wife, Bea, live at The Mount, a Bruderhof in Esopus, New York. Written in 1727, the St. Matthew Passion represents a large-scale intersection of composition and Lutheran theology. By great good fortune, two of his singers were Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn. Notizen zur Matthäus-Passion Unlike the opera, the best-known type of musical drama, the oratorio does not use costumes, makeup, or musicians who act while they sing. It’s a melody originally written by one Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612). These take two forms: there are eleven chorales which “step outside the action at significant spots and react to the story…They provide commentary and create a sense of a community response to the events just described by the soloists.” Then there are the four longer choruses that frame each half of the Passion, like bookends. (There’s a whole book devoted to this subject called Bach and the Physics of Music.) It is an audible symbol of human frailty, akin to Peter’s failure of courage.”. In 2020 the whole world seemed to be waiting for the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. Title Historia des Leidens und Sterbens unseres Herrn und Heiland Jesu Christi nach dem Evangelisten Matthäus St Matthew Passion Composer Schütz, Heinrich: Opus/Catalogue Number Op./Cat. Matthew Passion” on Good Friday, and that it shattered him. One setting of “O sacred head” is unrelievedly somber, as when Jesus has just been crucified. What followed two years later was an altogether grander, more magnificent setting. In St. Matthew Passion as in his other choral works, Bach devised specific “tone pictures” or “musical pictures” to help deliver his narrative. In the first instance, the text refers to Christ’s prediction of his sufferings. No. It is said to be the greatest peice of sacred classical music ever written. What sort of piece is Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, that it has such a wide reach and such tremendous staying power? Some of what they sing is reflective, as the piece that addresses the evil of Judas’ betrayal; other pieces consist of a soliloquy in which the singer pours out his or her heart, the best-known example being the aria, “Have mercy on me, O Lord.” In numbers like this one, Bach puts the spotlight on our own condition, and forces us to deal with the words on a personal level. Peter’s weeping, after his betrayal of Christ, is also vividly depicted by the vocal line Bach gives the soloist at that point in the story. We gladly renounce private property and share everything in common. Schweitzer, Albert. Bach completed his St. Matthew Passion in time for Good Friday, 1727 (he revised it later, at least once). German language It is this sort of device that makes the oratorio so heart-rending. Highlights to look out for are the alto aria ‘Buss Und Reu’ (‘Penance And Remorse’), one for soprano, ‘Blute Nur, Du Liebes Herz! Sign up for a weekly email from the Bruderhof, Follow us on Instagram for snapshots of Bruderhof life. The libretto of the St. Matthew Passion combines freely composed poetry and hymn verses with chapters 26 and 27 of The Gospel According to Matthew. “As Sir David points out… Bach might well have approved of making the “fullest use of the resources available to him”…The crowd choruses are vividly characterised, the chorales sung with unaffected naturalness.” – Gramophone. Willcocks’s comments still hold good and this superb recording justifies them on purely musical grounds, with noticeably brisk tempi, lending a welcome light and nimble touch to proceedings. English language John Eliot Gardiner has also written about the schematic symmetry in the larger structure of the oratorio too – that is, the way the sequence of choruses, arias, and chorales in Part I is mirrored in Part II. 1: No. I, II Specific actors – Pilate, the High Priest, Judas, the crowd – have roles too. Among other duties, his post required him to instruct the members of the Thomanerchor (the boys’ choir of St. Thomas) in singing and in Latin, and to provide weekly music at both of these churches. Geiringer, Karl. Warner Classics: 7777630585. It is said that silence is complicity. Then there’s the so-called Lord Supper sequence, where, as mentioned earlier, the phrase “Lord, is it I?” is repeated eleven times – once for each faithful disciple. Note Bach’s use of a most simple, childlike tune – an old French street song that recalls “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.” Listen to excerpt 1 – “Come ye daughters.”, St. Matthew Passion is an oratorio, which is a musical drama. Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven (2013) Bach wrote his Passion to use both these performance spaces. Listen to John Eliot Gardiner’s benchmark recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion right now. This week we’ll explore music inspired by Good Friday and Easter, both sacred and secular. Matthäus-Passion Alt ernative. In Hans’s reply (from Munich, where he is studying medicine), he says he didn’t go; he fears it wouldn’t have meant much to him. J.S. Bach’s first wife died in 1720, and he remarried the next year. It was performed only a few more times, “always under his own direction and with his apparently meager ensemble of church musicians.” (David Gordon). Unlike the opera, the best-known type of musical drama, the oratorio does not use costumes, makeup, or musicians who act while they sing. In 1707 he married a second cousin, Maria Barbara, and had seven children. David Gordon writes: The best example of this is the so-called “Lord’s Supper sequence.” Note the accompaniment (and the interplay of narrator and cast). The speeches of various characters – Commentator (soprano), Evangelist (tenor), Christ (bass), Peter (bass), Judas (bass) and so forth – are represented by various solo singers. Bach’s Passion is unique in this regard. SWV 479 I-Catalogue Number I-Cat. The St Matthew Passion is the second of two Passion settings by Bach that have survived in their entirety, the first being the St John Passion, first performed in 1724. And in the aria where the soprano sings about the scourging of Jesus, a harsh, rhythmic motif in the violin part represents Christ’s being lashed with a whip. Jens, Inge, ed. Bach: St. Matthew Passion The city, Leipzig in 1727: site of a fine university, a secondary commercial center, a satellite of Dresden. St Matthew Passion - Bach. St. Matthew Passion is an oratorio, which is a musical drama. In addition to the Bible story and Picander’s texts for the recitatives, arias and other sections, Bach interspersed the work with his own harmonisations of old chorale melodies and texts. Writing about the place of the Passion in Bach’s life, David Gordon, a musicologist, writes: With this performance Mendelssohn revived, almost single-handedly, interest in Bach. The St. Matthew's Passion (Matthäus-Passion), BWV 244 is a sacred oratorio by J.S. Versions and contemporaneous performances. Rather, the composer restricts himself to creating a drama whose full force comes to expression through the musical delivery. When all is said and done, the best testimony to the meaning and power of the St. Matthew Passion is the music itself, and the best way to approach it is simply to listen to it, whether by means of a recording or a live performance, and to let it work in you. This Easter-time Berlin presentation was a stunning success and was followed by others. Even the deepest aria – take, for instance, “Have mercy” – remains a solo, performed by one person; everyone else remains a listener. We’ll start in one of the most sublime and powerful corners of J.S. They are written for soloists (both instrumental and vocal) and a single or double chorus, and often involve dialogue, as in the first piece, where Choir I asks questions (“What?” “Come where?”), and Choir II answers them (“A spotless lamb.” “To Jesus’ bosom”). . Returning to the idea of a cast: there are also commentators. It’s not just a regional phenomenon. The St. John Passion. The Joy of Music (2nd Edition) Preview bach aria erbarme dich from the st matthew passion bwv 244 arr for violin solo viola solo and string quartet optional mezzo soprano replaces viola sol is available in 6 pages and compose for intermediate difficulty. Whereas Picander designates Choir I as “the Daughters of Zion” (Jesus’s contemporaries) he marks Choir II as “The Faithful” – us latter-day witnesses to his death. Bach's large choral composition was written to present the Passion, as told in the Gospel of Matthew, in a vespers service on Good Friday. Your email address will not be published. Seen from a distance, the two ensembles, each visually dominated by a large number of singers, do indeed look equal. No. No one but the individual concertgoer can answer that question, but in the interest of piquing the interest of those to whom Bach’s “Great Passion” is a foreign, inaccessible enigma, here are a few thoughts. It sets chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of Matthew (in Luther's German translation) to music, with chorales and arias. We try to love our neighbor and share everything, so that peace and justice become a reality. Bach did not act as his own librettist for the St Matthew Passion. In St. Matthew Passion we have the narrator, who is called the evangelist, because he recites, in “recitatives,” the story of the crucifixion as told in the gospel, or evangel (from the Latin evangelium). True, Bernstein's stylistic approach (the frequently languorous tempos, the italicized effect accorded certain significant moments in Bach's richly textured drama) and employment of large-scale choral and orchestral forces have long … Motown And Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream Speech, Hemispheres: Prog Rock From Around The World, Best Martin Luther King Songs: 10 Moving Tributes, ‘Happy Birthday’: Stevie Wonder Helps Create Martin Luther King Day, Best David Ruffin Songs: 20 Essential Soul Gems, New Radicals Reunite After 22 Years For Biden-Harris Inauguration Performance, Jon Pardi Wants ‘Tequila Little Time’ As New Single Hits Country Radio, I’m Virtually Going To Graceland: Elvis’ Mansion Launches Online Tours, Gentle Giant Share Early 1970s Denver College Radio Interview, Morgan Wallen’s ‘Dangerous’ Hits No.1 And Breaks Country Streaming Record. Until 1975, it was held that the first performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion was on Good Friday 1729. Every year for Good Friday Vespers, a Passion would be performed in one of Leipzig’s two principal (Lutheran) churches, St. Thomas and St. Nicholas. I compiled them simply in order to share an ongoing fascination with this unrivaled depiction of Christ’s final sufferings – unrivaled in its poetic and musical scope, its spiritual depth, and its uncanny ability to stir the soul. They all seem barren compared to Karl Richter’s intensity with Ernst Haefliger singing eevagelist, Your email address will not be published. We're an intentional Christian community with locations worldwide. We are an intentional Christian community of more than 3,000 people living in twenty-eight settlements on four continents. The St. Matthew Passion of Bach is a massive oratorio set for double chorus and orchestra, multiple soloists, and an Evangelist. The Passions, Biblical texts set as large-scale musical works, were performed on Good Friday and told the story of Christ's Crucifixion, according to the Gospels. It is even written in two Parts (or two ‘Acts’) with an interval (indeed, for the work’s first performance a sermon was preached between the two Parts) – and that is one reason why its first performance in Leipzig met with decidedly mixed reactions. Listen to excerpt 1 – “Come ye daughters.”, To hear both examples, listen to excerpt 8, Listen to excerpt 9 to hear the rippling motion, Not a Time to Take Sides – Except God’s Side. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his St. Matthew Passion for a single purpose — to present the Passion story in music at Good Friday vesper services. Bach sometimes wrote “symmetrically” too: if the melody would go up or down by a certain interval, the bass line would mirror it by doing the opposite. That’s the simple choral melody set above the swirling accompaniment. Some of his music can even be played, simultaneously, by two musicians on opposite sides of a table, one reading the music upside down, to form a second part. In short, you don’t need to understand it to be moved by it. Levang, Rex. Like operas, though, oratorios do have casts. A Study of The St Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach Music Assignment Grades 6-8 Name_____ Date_____ Listen to Leonard Bernstein’s musical analysis of the Bach St. Matthew Passion (16 minutes) and answer the following questions: 1. Who does the chorus represent? In the second, which follows the crowd’s shouts of “Let him be crucified!” the crucifixion has become a concrete reality. This tradition of borrowing music is still going strong; though whereas 300 years ago serious musicians were borrowing popular tunes, it’s now working the other way around: popular musicians are borrowing from classical tunes. Bach: Texts of Vocal Works in Translation, with Commentary Buy download online. Back to the composition of the music itself, Bach was also keenly aware that his talent was a gift. Typically, these are done with all performers in street clothes or neutral costumes, the orchestras on stage, the soloists singing without scores, and the words acted out in a solemn fashion, with only a minimal stage set. Sir John’s approach to the work is as celebrated as his first-class soloists, his great Monteverdi Choir and the splendid English Baroque Soloists. Bach's St. Matthew Passion: A Rudimentary Psychological Analysis, Part II by Vladimir J. Konecni University of California, San Diego Arousal-raising devices: Psychophysical and collative variables Paradoxical as it may seem, it is generally considered that Bach was able to achieve great variety through his ingenious counterpoint. He notes that in a 1519 treatise on the Crucifixion, Martin Luther had. Yet this remastered recording of Bach's St. Matthew Passion--like that of his Bach concertos with Glenn Gould and others--is a moving document of musical and emotional empathy. The music is seductive, even voluptuous. Isoyama, Tadashi. In the end, perhaps it is Bach’s insistence on reminding us of this “whole Gospel” that gives his Passion such depth. Without guilt, forgiveness is meaningless, and without death – without Good Friday – there could not be possibly be such a thing as resurrection and the joy of Easter. The St. Matthew Passion has been presented in staged performances. Stream songs including "St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: No.1 Chorus I/II: "Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen"", "St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: No.2 Evangelist, Jesus: "Da Jesus diese Rede vollendet hatte"" and more. (‘Passion’ is derived from the Latin verb ‘patior’ meaning ‘to suffer’ or ‘endure’, from which we also get ‘patience’ and ‘patient’.) Note that whereas Bach used the organ and other instruments to accompany most voices of the cast, he used strings alone as accompaniment whenever Jesus himself speaks, resulting in what Bernstein called a shimmering “halo” effect. Look at any big city newspaper around Easter, and you’re sure to find a performance advertised somewhere. He died of a stroke (after an unsuccessful eye operation) in 1750, at the age of 65, and was buried in an unmarked grave. Driving some friends to the train the other day – they were headed to Leipzig for a performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in the church where he composed it – it struck me that Bach is everywhere at this time of year, at least here in his home state of Thuringia. These would have been well-known to the congregation of St Thomas’s, the oldest dating back to the early 16th century. In a way, it’s hardly surprising. He was only twenty, and a recent convert to Christianity. Google “St. Endless critical appraisals, from the academic to the heartfelt, including an unlikely appreciation by a London Muslim who says that the work is so “devastating” in its power that even non-Christians can find meaning in it. . A local Lutheran preacher, Salomon Deyling, supervised the writing of the text, using the 26th and 27th chapters of St Matthew’s Gospel (in his manuscript, Bach underlined the words of the Scripture with red ink). Every year for Good Friday Vespers, a Passion would be performed in one of Leipzig’s two principal (Lutheran) churches, St. Thomas and St. Nicholas. Even so, the experience is vital. These led directly to a complete reassessment and revival of interest in all of Bach’s music for, baffling as it seems nowadays, Johann Sebastian Bach had fallen into near obscurity since his death nearly 80 years earlier. To me, the most vivid tonal depiction comes in the alto aria “Have mercy,” which Alex Ross calls “the most beloved passage in the St. Matthew Passion.” Evoking Peter’s bitter weeping after his denial of Christ, the “keening melody” is interwoven with a “sad, serene, gently dancing violin solo… The singer tries to emulate the violin’s endless melody but keeps falling short, because parts of it lie outside her range. A smaller piece than the 1727 St. Matthew, Bach’s St. John Passion was first performed in 1724. Many were written around Lutheran chorales, such as “Wake, awake” or “How brightly beams the morning star.”. The results are just full of wonder, and bittersweet joy--perfectly suited to the seasons f Easter and Passover, not to mention the Time of the Coronavirus disease plague in 2020. Explore our guide to Bach’s ‘St Matthew Passion’ widely regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of classical sacred music. Scholarly articles on its structure. As Tadashi Isoyama writes, “Put simply, the Passion is music that calls for mankind to reflect and to awaken. They seemed to say, ‘You, too, are responsible.’”. In the St. Matthew Passion, Bach indulges his gypsy soul. The crowd says, “Not upon this feast!” Then the evangelist sings of the anointing of Jesus in Bethany, and the crowd reacts, “To what purpose is this waste?” to which Jesus responds by singing of how the woman who anointed him will always be remembered. In the St Matthew Passion, the strings play a long high chord whenever Jesus sings, setting his singing apart from the other singing like a musical 'halo'. For until we are willing to open ourselves to the suffering that took place at Gethsemane and on Golgotha, it cannot work its redemptive powers in us. Sir David Willcocks’ 1978 recording for Decca is the only version currently available in English. 1666 First Perf ormance. The St Matthew Passion performed by the Netherlands Bach Society for All of Bach. Gordon, David. (For a peerless example of such chorale singing, listen to excerpts 5, 6, and 7.). After all, he had his own children to look out for, and was busy turning out, during his Leipzig years, more than two full cycles of cantatas (a cycle consisting of a complete cantata for each Sunday of the year). These performances would … Bach came from a family of prominent musicians. Stream songs including "St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, Pt. This was an unorthodox way of presenting religious history and not the kind of thing that the more devout members of the congregation / audience felt was appropriate for a church, the feeling being that the work was too ‘operatic’. Then there’s the dramatic point where the soloist sings Jesus’s words, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” On the word “weak,” the accompaniment crumbles. (This is because most religious music was performed in churches. Whether a singer in the choir, or as a listener, we are thus drawn into the story. Programme Notes - Musical Director (St Matthew Passion) Posted: 25th February 2019 For the concert on 9 March 2019: It is a privilege to welcome you to our performance of J.S. These performances would mark the high point of the church’s year. Matthew Passion” (1999) There was no room for a stage, and no time for scene changes.). To hear both examples, listen to excerpt 8. On the occasion of the centenary of the first performance of the St Matthew Passion in Aberdeen in 1912, Peter Parfitt, Musical Director of Aberdeen Bach Choir, has prepared a musical commentary on the work with the text (in German) and translation into English. We used to go to similar (free) concerts at St. Peter’s, a church on the Upper East Side, where the audience was invited to sing along with each chorale. Even the larger “double” choruses, divided in today’s editions simply as “Choir I” and “Choir II”, were originally conceived as having specific historic roles to play. The story here is as follows: Caiaphas consults with leaders to kill Jesus. This new version of the Bach Saint Matthew Passion has a fresh new interpretation of the Passion, as well as Bach's own structuring from the Gospel of Matthew. ⇒ 11 more: Ich bin's, ich sollte büßen • Erkenne mich, mein Hüter • Ich will hier bei dir stehen • Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh' all Zeit • Mir hat die Welt trüglich gericht't mit Lügen • Wer hat dich so geschlagen • Bin ich gleich von dir gewichen • Befiehl du deine Wege • Wie wunderbarlich ist doch diese Strafe! The available information derives from extant early manuscripts, contemporary publications of the libretto, … Why the odd title – St. Matthew Passion – when Bach, a staunch Lutheran, would never have referred to the apostle as a saint, and the “passion” is Christ’s, not Matthew’s? In another number, the oboe seems to represent Mary running first one way in the garden, and then the other, looking for Jesus. These events were so well attended that you had to come several hours early if you wanted a good seat. When the congregation weren't singing, Bach made sure the overarching mood of the story was represented in the music - and he had a remarkable number of tricks up his sleeve, using different instruments and key signatures to highlight the different characters and emotions. “What makes Gardiner’s St Matthew Passion stand out in the face of stiff competition is, more than anything, his vivid sense of theatre. Obviously, our anguish is vicarious, limited to the realm of Bach’s (and our) imagination. Is it really just the music drawing people? Finally, Bach employs a sort of Greek chorus to respond to the events. This music sheet has been read 4160 times and … Indeed, his is a musical interpretation of the gospel of St. Matthew, and it makes for one of the great Matthew Passion recordings. Ross, Alex. But... January 12, 2021 by Charles & Leslie Moore. I keep trying to like “purist” performances including Gardner but I can’t mare up to them. John Eliot Gardiner’s benchmark Archiv recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, which will be reissued on vinyl on 10 April 2020, was recorded back in 1989, a masterstroke that remains a milestone in the catalogue. Bach St Matthew Passion: Text, Translation and Musical Notes . In the case of the St. Matthew Passion, this devotion seems to have extended even to the care with which the text was shaped. In the Passion, as elsewhere, Bach uses his mastery of musical forms to create powerful contrasts of mood. Johann Sebastian Bach's St Matthew Passion was first performed on 11 April 1727 in St Thomas Church,Leipzig,Germany. . (“Soli Deo Gloria,” which means “to God alone be glory”), I.N.J. “Atonement: The St. Matthew Passion at the Armony,” The New Yorker, (Oct. 27, 2014) Jesus says that someone will betray him, and the chorus, representing the disciples, responds, “Lord, is it I?” The phrase is repeated eleven times, once for each faithful disciple. This is a reference to Psalm 39, which contains the line, “I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked stand before me.”. Has anything else lasted, culturally speaking, from 1727 to the present? There’s a certain irony here: the missing phrase, of course, belongs to Judas, and highlights him as the only disciple impudent enough to ask the question. Listen to excerpt 11 to hear this. “The St. Matthew Passion” – notes for Minnesota Public Radio, (2001) In 1725, two years after he took up his appointment of cantor at St. Thomas’s, he wrote the Passion According To St. John. 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