However, at his death in 1750, the St. Matthew Passion, along with most Bach compositions, was forgotten. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion was first performed at St. Thomas Church at the Good Friday vespers service on April 11, 1727. It is also, as Mendelssohn himself noted wryly, somewhat ironic that “it took an actor and the son of Jew to revive the greatest Christian music for the world!”. These performances would mark the high point of the church’s year. Most prominent of those is the chorus “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” (“O Sacred Head Now Wounded”), which stands as 54th of the 68 sections. A 1732 account of a performance of one of Bach’s Passions captures a Vockerodt-style indictment of Bach’s brand of Passion music. The second part presents the rest of the biblical story, including the Crucifixion, death, and burial of Christ. In the early 1820s, the director of the Berlin Singakademie, Carl Zelter, got hold of a copy of Bach’s St Matthew Passion and rehearsed some of the choral movements in private. “What makes Gardiner’s St Matthew Passion stand out in the face of stiff competition is, more than anything, his vivid sense of theatre. It's a journey through the St. Matthew Passion guided by acclaimed scholars, conductors and singers (including Ian Bostridge, Joshua Rifkin, Ton Koopman and Christoph Wolff), all … Saint Peter’s Church presents J.S. There was no room for a stage, and no time for scene changes.) 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. PRESENTED BY: Bach Musica NZ orchestra & chorus, soloists and guests from the Auckland Girls’ Choir. The St. Matthew Passion is divided into two parts, and its performance takes somewhat less than three hours. The St. Matthew Passion is impressive even by Bach’s standards. The speeches of various characters – Commentator (soprano), Evangelist (tenor), Christ (bass), Peter (bass), Judas (bass) and so forth – are represented by various solo singers. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Johann Sebastian Bach's St Matthew Passion was first heard on Good Friday, 1727. A smaller piece than the 1727 St. Matthew, Bach’s St. John Passion was first performed in 1724. 1, Chorus I/II: "Kommt, Ihr Töchter, Helft Mir Klagen"", "St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: No. Like operas, though, oratorios do have casts. It is a monumental piece with parts for … Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" | Markus Rathey and Martin Jean April 7, 2020 ISM Director Martin Jean and Professor Markus Rathey, author of Bach’s Major Vocal Works: Music, Drama Liturgy, discuss Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and more. Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 English Translation in Interlinear Format Saint Matthew Passion BWV 244: Event: Good Friday Text: Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander), based on Matthäus 26-27 Chorale Texts: Werde munter mein Gemüte | Meinen Jesum laß' ich nicht | Befiehl du deine Wege | O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden | Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit | O Welt, sieh hier dein Leben Bach with some bite: How 'The St Matthew Passion' went from zero to hero. Often the chorus is called upon to present Bach’s new settings of existing chorales. Thus, the score is laid out for Chorus 1 and Orchestra 1, Chorus 2 and Orchestra 2. J.S. In the openng and closing movements of Part One, the sound of the full orchestra and chorus is enhanced by a separate, haunting melody, often sung by children’s voices. Recorded before Sir Stephen Cleobury’s untimely passing in November 2019, King’s College presents a new accountof one of the greatest masterpieces in sacred music, Bach’sSt Matthew Passion. 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. Required fields are marked *. It calls for two separate orchestras and choirs, which all perform together and separately throughout. Bach’s Passion According to Saint Matthew, BWV 244, much as the great cantor would have performed it in liturgical setting. The alto air “Buss und Reu” (“Guilt and Pain”; section 6) opens with a gently flowing flute line, and, even after the alto joins in, the flute remains prominent. English language Saint Peter’s Choir and Bach Collegium Period Orchestra is led from the harpsichord by Dr. Bálint Karosi. The scoring of the two groups of singers and players is … The St. Matthew Passion was performed several times during the composer’s life, and a copy of its original manuscript exists in Bach’s own handwriting. Omissions? 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. 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'. John Eliot Gardiner’s benchmark recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion can be bought here. The LP comes with a two-page leaflet and original liner notes by Sir John in English and German. Though this news is disappointing, we look forward to bringing you this inspiring concert in a future season. Your email address will not be published. The soprano air “Ich will dir mein Herze schenken” (“I Will Thee My Heart Now Offer”; section 13) is distinct not only in that it matches the soprano with two oboes, rather than just one, but also in that it is the only genuinely cheerful section in the entire work. Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan made their first recording of the St Matthew Passion in March 1999. Listen to Bach: St. Matthew Passion by Gabrieli & Paul McCreesh on Apple Music. It is a theatrical concept, a drama. Bach: St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244 / Part Two - No. It is almost miraculous that the complete renaissance of Bach’s music which took place after 1829 was due to the performance of a work that had been quite forgotten yet is regarded today as one of his most complex and profound creations of Western music. St Matthew Passion - Bach. 77 Recitative. 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. In April 1829, despite strong opposition from some quarters, the twenty-year-old Mendelssohn, with the help of Zelter and his friend the actor Eduard Devrient, mounted the work’s first modern performance, albeit in an abbreviated form, given to mark what was then thought to be the centenary of its first performance. Two large ensembles play in dialogue, and the score presents a symmetrical structure. Bach: St Matthew Passion. The work is for a choir, solo voices and orchestra. What followed two years later was an altogether grander, more magnificent setting. Until 1975, it was held that the first performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion was on Good Friday 1729. Twenty years later, in April 2019, it was time once again, as the singers and players gathered in the Concert Hall of the Saitama Arts Theater in Japan. 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. Thus, the whole work is structured as a repeated pattern of Biblical narrative, comment, and prayer. I keep trying to like “purist” performances including Gardner but I can’t mare up to them. Bach revised the piece considerably several times, but the final performance during his lifetime, in 1749, was similar in form to the first version. Buy, stream or download this album. Johann Sebastian Bach St Matthew Passion . Find out more about the best versions, and listen and download your favourites. By great good fortune, two of his singers were Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn. The St. Matthew Passion is Bach’s grandest musical composition. 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. And not just one orchestra – but two. King’s College presents a new account of one of sacred music’s greatest masterpieces, the Bach St Matthew Passion, performed with the Academy of Ancient Music. ‘Piledriver’: When Status Quo Hit Their Album Stride, ‘The Second Album’: The Spencer Davis Group Keep On Running, 10cc And So Much More: Eric Stewart, Master Of Song And Studio, ‘Meet The Beatles’: American Beatlemaniacs Couldn’t Get Enough, Best Horace Silver Pieces: Essential Jazz For Curious Ears, Billie Eilish And Rosalía Set To Release ‘Lo Vas A Olvidar’ On Thursday, Olivia Rodrigo‘s ‘Drivers License’ Tops Billboard Hot 100, Global Charts, Eric Church, Jazmine Sullivan Tapped For National Anthem Performance At Super Bowl LV, Michigan Declares January 20th ‘What’s Going On’ Day, Celeste Announces Trio Of Shows at London’s Islington Union Chapel. Listen to J.S. Bach: St. Matthew Passion by Philharmonia Orchestra & Otto Klemperer on Apple Music. Info for Bach: St. Matthew Passion. The story for the work was taken mostly from the Gospel According to Matthew, but the actual verses that Bach set to music were provided by several contemporary poets. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Bach’s St Matthew Passion is almost always described as a double-choir composition for two choirs and two orchestras. German language It’s a melody originally written by one Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612). Witness Bach’s spine-tingling masterpiece presented by Bach Musica NZ, star soloists and guests from the Auckland Girls’ Choir. Almost three centuries later this musical masterpiece stands as one of the pillars of Western sacred music. Bach wrote his Passion to use both these performance spaces. (‘Bleed Now, Loving Heart!’); the sublime alto aria with violin obligato ‘Erbame, Dich’ (‘Have Mercy’), a second soprano aria ‘Aus Liebe Will Mein Heiland Sterben’ (‘Out Of Love My Saviour Is Willing To Die’); the blood-curdling moment when the mob calls for Barrabas to be freed and Christ to be crucified’; and the final number in the Passion, the double chorus ‘Wir Setzen Uns Mit Tränen Nieder’ (usually translated as ‘ In Tears Of Grief’). In 1725, two years after he took up his appointment of cantor at St. Thomas’s, he wrote the Passion According To St. John. It is the longest and most elaborate of all works by this Baroque master and represents the culmination of his sacred music and, indeed, of Baroque sacred music as a whole. Rita Paczian: Conductor Unlike the opera, the best-known type of musical drama, the oratorio does not use costumes, makeup, or musicians who act while they sing. The best known of these, often referred to as the Passion Chorale, is ‘O Haupt Voll Blut Und Wunden’, usually sung in English to the words ‘O Sacred Head Sore Wounded’. Now as he revisits the work, the approach and all … The opening of Part 1 of Johann Sebastian Bach's. West Australian Symphony Orchestra and St George’s Concert Series present a supremely dramatic masterpiece. Warner Classics: 7777630585. The St. Matthew Passion had its first performance three years later, on April 11, 1727 in Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church, where Bach was cantor. This monumental St Matthew Passion is hailed as the greatest setting of the Passion story in western music, but surprisingly it was not until almost 100 years after its premiere that Bach’s music got the recognition it deserved. 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). Stream songs including "St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: No. The story for the work was taken mostly from the Gospel According to Matthew , but the actual verses that Bach set to music were provided by several contemporary poets. (‘Passion’ is derived from the Latin verb ‘patior’ meaning ‘to suffer’ or ‘endure’, from which we also get ‘patience’ and ‘patient’.) 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. His principal contributor was Christian Friedrich Henrici, a poet who wrote under the name of Picander and also supplied the text for Bach’s secular Peasant Cantata (1742). Stream songs including "St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: No. Both the choir and the orchestra are divided into two sections: Chorus 1 and Chorus 2, Orchestra 1 and Orchestra 2. St. Matthew Passion is an oratorio, which is a musical drama. It is with heavy hearts that we announce, in accordance with the Governor’s ban, the cancellation of our performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Rocky River, Cleveland (Severance Hall), and Akron on April 1, 3, and 4 respectively. The soloist’s parts are less solos than duets—not with each other but rather with performers drawn from the orchestra. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. There had already been a long history of Passion music – that is musical settings telling the story of the final, short period in the life of Jesus. 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. In Bach’s time, St Thomas’s had two organ lofts – the larger of the two accommodating the musicians for Sunday services throughout the year, the smaller loft used for the additional numbers needed for the music at Christmas and Easter. The words tell the story of Jesus ’s death on the cross as told in chapters 26 and 27 of the Book of St Matthew in the Bible. The St. Matthew Passion is one of hundreds of sacred pieces Bach wrote during his long tenure as director of church music and cantor of the school at Thomaskirche. Listen to John Eliot Gardiner’s benchmark recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion right now. The new pressing from original sources is on 180gm vinyl and, to enhance audio quality, no side exceeds 30 minutes. 2, Evangelist, Jesus: "Da Jesus Diese Rede Vollendet Hatte"" and more. Rather, the composer restricts himself to creating a drama whose full force comes to expression through the musical delivery. Sir David Willcocks’ 1978 recording for Decca is the only version currently available in English. Nearly eight decades later the 20-year-old Felix Mendelssohn reintroduced the work when he conducted a 400-member chorus and a full orchestra in a 19th-century premiere at the Berlin Sing-Akadamie on March 11, 1829. Corrections? Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). https://www.britannica.com/topic/St-Matthew-Passion-BWV-244, The Kennedy Center - "St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244", AllMusic - "St. Matthew Passion (Matthäuspassion), for Soloists, Double Chorus and Double Orchestra, BWV 244 (BC D3b)". By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The St. John Passion. The St. Matthew Passion is one of hundreds of sacred pieces Bach wrote during his long tenure as director of church music and cantor of the school at Thomaskirche. In his notes for the original LP set, Sir David justified his deliberate departures from ‘the so-called authentic type of performance’, despite advances in Bach scholarship and a plethora of top-notch period performances. St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, byname of The Passion According to St. Matthew, German byname Matthäus-Passion or Matthäuspassion, Passion music by Johann Sebastian Bach. “The St Matthew Passion could, like so much of Bach’s music, have … Throughout the work, there is more music for the four soloists—soprano, alto, tenor, and bass—than for the chorus. (‘Passion’ is derived from the Latin verb ‘patior’ meaning ‘to suffer’ or ‘endure’, from which we also get ‘patience’ and ‘patient’.) Bach uses it no less than five times in the course of the St Matthew Passion, each time presenting it in a new way, with different words, keys and harmonisations (he also used it – twice – in the Christmas Oratorio and in several cantatas). 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