3. J. S. Bach: St. Matthew Passion
Participants are asked to listen to any recording of St. Matthew
Passion and to read the text, which can be found in side-by-side original German/English translation here.
As a provincial church musician, J. S. Bach never composed
an opera, but his St. Matthew Passion is as close as you could come. This huge musical setting of the story of the crucifixion
of Christ is a brilliant riveting account, magnificently set by
Bach with much use of symbolism and numerology. Although
it was intended for use in a Good Friday church service, the
St. Matthew Passion is also highly dramatic. The Bach scholar Malcolm Boyd believed it was the most dramatic masterpiece composed before Wagner’s Ring Cycle 150 years later. Regardless of your religion, faith or creed – or knowledge of music – the St. Matthew Passion by Bach is a work that will impress, enlighten and move you, clearly illustrating the capability of the artistic mind when inspired.
During our week together we will work our way through the
entire St. Matthew Passion from recordings, discovering and
discussing Bach’s objectives, methods and results. No need
to read or write music.
Rick Phillips is the Host and Producer of SOUND ADVICE, CBC Radio’s weekly guide to classical music and recordings and author of The Essential Classical Recordings – 101 CDs. He has long loved St. Matthew Passion, from the perspective of a performer and musician, critic, writer, broadcaster, teacher and lover of Bach, firmly believing it one of the truly great works of all classical music.